"The most fascinating things about life are the banalities we so rarely discuss amongst ourselves but that we devote most of our energies to navigating. How did that day you've forgotten look? What did it feel like? Were you lonely? Did you have the sense you were progressing anywhere? Probably not. Yet string a few thousand of them together and that's a life." —From Boy Wonders
Cathal Kelly grew up in the seventies and eighties, decades when dressing like Michael Jackson seemed like a good idea and The Beachcombers—"an adventure show about logging"—seemed to make sense. But apart from fashion missteps and baffling TV plotlines, Kelly's youth was a time of wonder, obsession and discovery. Navigating an often fraught family life, Kelly sought refuge in books, music, movies, games and at least one backyard hole. However, looking back he sees that his passion for George Orwell, Star Wars or The Smiths was never just about the book, movie or band. Rather, it was about the promise each new experience offered him in making sense of the world, and how he might find a home within it.
By turns funny, elegiac and insightful, Boy Wonders is an unvarnished celebration of growing up and stumbling toward identity. It's about the good and the bad of those brief years when we find purpose without end, obsession without limit and joy in the strangest of places.
Cathal Kelly is a national sports columnist at The Globe and Mail.
Shortlisted for the 2019 Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour
"Cathal Kelly's reporting (for this newspaper) about sports is so entertaining that even if (like this reader) you don't much care about sports, you may regularly read him anyway. His debut memoir, Boy Wonders, about growing up in the 1970s and 80s, promises to be emotional, funny and packed full with nerdy obsessions and ill-advised fashion choices. Also sports." —The Globe and Mail
"The best writers keep a steely grip on their childhood memories and Cathal Kelly is no exception. . . . He is one of Canada's finest sports writers (first at the Star, now at The Globe). He is also a natural storyteller with a deep streak of self-deprecating humour." —Toronto Star
"The quirky, must-read Globe and Mail columnist introduces us to both the boy and the wonder of a memoir that truly is a gem—multi-faceted, colourful, polished, brilliant. . . . Boy Wonders is terrific, a book you should buy, read once for the pleasure, read again for the craft and then . . . give it to a 12-year-old." —Winnipeg Free Press
"What a wondrous treat this book is. Looking back at his childhood, Cathal Kelly takes things that we all recognize—subway trains, Michael Jackson's jacket, bickering families—and spins them into a fascinating and heart-rending web of life and memory. I've always wondered about boys; this book provides many answers, and much pleasure.?" —Elizabeth Renzetti, author of Shrewed
"Cathal Kelly has the gift only first-rate writers have: he knows which obsessions matter most, however much the rest of the world pretends they don't. The result, in Boy Wonders, is a breathtaking portrait of a boy's inner life: lonely, clueless, hilarious and full to the brim with every variety of passion. You will be glad you read it, whoever you are." —Ian Brown, author of Sixty
"This is the book you should be reading if you want to know how complicated boys become grown men. It's not riddled with rules, just gem-like stories, each a beautifully crafted revelation. Whether he's writing about first kisses, pop-culture fandom, broken families or the ambiguities of faith, Kelly masterfully balances the hilarious with the heartbreaking, sometimes in a single sentence. A coming-of-age classic." —Lisa Gabriele, author of The Winters