Saturday, January 05, 2008

Prose for Puck Heads

Lorna Jackson's Cold-cocked was reviewed in the Globe this morn. It's part of a much longer review of 4-5 hockey books, so I'll just cut and paste what Steve Galloway said of Cold-cocked. This is the 3rd piece on Lorna's book in 8 days.: each of 'em said it's a book you should damn well read. So, if I haven't convinced you yet, perhaps Mr. Galloway will.

The review...

I am currently getting my lunch handed to me in a writers' hockey pool. If all my players were to double their point production, I'd still be a long way from contention. It's humiliating. And, in the interests of full disclosure, one of those who is metaphorically pantsing me is Lorna Jackson. I will exact revenge. But not here. Jackson's memoir, Cold-cocked: On Hockey, is fantastic. The only book of the five in which the writing is more than a delivery mechanism, Cold-cocked is sardonic, heartfelt, angry and passionate about hockey, life, the points where they intersect and the points where they don't.

In one of my favourite passages, Jackson offers what some of the secondary characters in the book would do during a day with Todd Bertuzzi, vilified for a vicious on-ice attack on Steve Moore. From Carla Funk: "I'd take him to a watercolour lesson ... go to a poetry reading ... bake bread. But then I'd want to see some of that aggression, so I would get him to butcher some chickens, too."

From FUKT (the hockey pool code name of writer Bill Gaston): "I have a garage that really needs cleaning out, plus I'd want to see how many sandwiches he could eat. During his break, I'd get him to see if he could throw my old couch up on a neighbour I don't like's roof."

The notion of Bertuzzi painting a happy little green tree next to a frisky lake or eating a dozen ham sandwiches is both funny and sad. Could it be that these players are human beings, sort of? Though we all know this objectively to be true, we're generally more comfortable either deifying them or reducing them to racehorses. But in the same breath, let's face it, if you need to kick a little ass, it'd be nice to have a guy like Bertuzzi doing your bidding.

In other moments, Cold-cocked is deadly serious, pressing and urgent about a game that Jackson, unlike most authors of hockey books, pays her own money to watch. She's an outsider, like us, and her book should serve as a reminder that it is the fans, not the players or the media or the league itself, that own this game and will determine its fate.

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