Cold-Cocked burns with hockey's passions
By Lorna Jackson. Biblioasis, 206 pp, $19.95, softcover
Pro hockey is like any good story. It has its heroes, villains, and clowns, and plot twists that play out from game to game and season to season.
Vancouver Islander Lorna Jackson knows this. And she understands that, as with fiction, the more attention, commitment, and resourcefulness you bring to the tale being told, the richer it gets. Her new book, Cold-Cocked: On Hockey, is proof of that.
Cold-Cocked: On Hockey
by Lorna Jackson
Out of two Vancouver Canuck seasons–the 2002–03 and 2003–04 campaigns–Jackson creates a hockey-themed fugue that reaches into the most intimate details of her own life. Childhood memories of watching Hockey Night in Canada with her father in the late 1960s lead to a kind of elegy for his years as a young pilot in the Second World War. The injuries she witnesses in the game mesh with reflections on the limits of her own middle-aged frame. Her devotion to Canucks captain Markus Naslund makes her feel "old and pathetic…for having a crush on a golden young man who wasn't even born on the coast of Sweden when I graduated from high school in Vancouver". All of this is steeped in sardonic humour and backed up by a grasp of the game itself that is surprisingly nuanced, seeing how Jackson only returned to being a hockey fan at the age of 48, after decades away.
Cold-Cocked is not a book for all hockey devotees. Those who like Ron MacLean's fireside reminiscences may be freaked out by the fantasies Jackson regularly has about a heartfelt, sex-charged relationship with Todd Bertuzzi or Trevor Linden. If that's the case for you, then it's quite literally your problem, as the book is nothing if not one intricately personal perspective.
More generally, though, it must be said that Jackson could have done with fewer shows of contempt for some of the fans she runs into at games. Is there really anything wrong with discussing stats or a goalie's performance with your seatmates? Jackson often seems to think so, silently calling one guy who does this "Mr. Narcissist", a risky charge to level after so many passages describing Naslund as her "pretend boyfriend".
Still, such a shortcoming is bound to appear in a book this bravely revealing. You're left to wonder what further insights into life's farces and frustrations Jackson might have had if she'd watched all of the Canucks' 37-year history with the same intensity.