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Sports Lit

By barbaramcveigh
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Literary sports and adventure books Here are some out of print titles that could be included on this list. I've been able to buy some of them online: SHOELESS JOE by WP Kinsella INSIDE THE POSTAL BUS by Michael Barry LE METIER by Michael Barry BLACK TIGHTS: WOMEN, SPORT AND SEXUALITY by Laura Robinson CROSSING THE LINE: SEXUAL ASSAULT IN CANADA'S NATIONAL SPORT by Laura Robinson COLD OCEANS by Jon Turk FAIL BETTER by Mark Kingwell For more about my interest in Sports Lit copy & paste this link: http://49thshelf.com/Blog/2012/05/07/Because-it-s-good-for-you-Barbara-McVeigh-on-reading-SportsLit
The Best Game You Can Name

The Best Game You Can Name

edition:Paperback
tagged : hockey, sports

Bidini returns to the game he loves best

In 2004, Dave Bidini laced on his skates and slid onto the ice of Toronto’s McCormick Arena to play defence with the Morningstars in the E! Cup tourney. While thrashing around the ice, swiping at the puck and his opponents, Bidini got to thinking about how others see the game. Afterward, he set off to talk to former professional players about their experiences of hockey. The result is vintage Bidini — an exuberant, evocative, highly personal, and vivid …

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1
A FROZEN RIVER OF STOUT

If it’s true that the best time for sports is when you’re eleven, I’ve discovered that it’s also pretty good when you’re forty. My athletic renaissance came on the heels of turning thirty-­four, which is how old I was when I lit out to discover world hockey. Later, and older, I spent an entire summer dogging an Italian baseball team up and down the Boot. One evening while I was in Nettuno — my Italian baseballing town — I paced with some agitation behind the town’s seawall, holding my cellphone and listening to my friend Ozzie from his couch in Etobicoke, Ontario. He was shouting the names of undrafted nhlers: “Thomas Vokoun? Available, I think. Comrie? Gone. Brisebois? You really wanna pick Brisebois?”

Purple waves licked the beach not twenty feet from where I was standing under the bright Roman moon, pondering the kind of quibbler that must have perplexed Marcus Aurelius or Cicero or any number of Latin thinkers who’d paced this same long stretch of sand:

“Anson Carter gives us depth, sure, but if Brian Boucher’s around, you know we can never have too much goaltending.”

Ozzie paused while a Sputnik orbiting hundreds of miles overhead ensnared our transcontinental frequency in static, then volleyed a thought about the unpredictability of a young American goaltender. Would Boucher ever supplant Sean Burke as number one in Phoenix, he wondered, and, hey, what was Italy like anyway. I told him that Italy was fine, just fine, then pressed on with the matter at hand: to draft our fantasy league team with a handful of other hockey freaks.

Arguing eggheadedly over draft picks during the sweet soft hours of an Italian evening — to say nothing of spending what should have been prime holidaying time catching fungoes — is proof that sports means as much to me now as it ever did at age eleven. Which is saying a lot. As a boy growing up in suburban Toronto, my life was a hockey card collection, a gas station stamp book, a Team Canada poster, an Export ‘A’ Leafs calender, Gordie Howe’s name scribbled in blue ink on the back of a beer mat, Tiger Williams at Kingsway Motors, a pair of Marlie greys, a front tooth knocked out by Martin Dzako’s street hockey follow-­through. I was just as obsessed as the next scamp with the gladiators of ice, but my friend Murray Heywood went one step further. When Murray was eight, his brothers would invite their friends over to watch the kid put on a show. He’d leave the room while they put a hockey card on the kitchen table, obscured except for the players’ eyes. They’d call Murray back into the room. He’d guess right every time.

The players Ozzie and I drafted onto our fantasy team were the adult equivalents of a hockey card collection. We obsessed over them as we once obsessed over the flat, sugar-­dusted squares stacked stat-­to-­stat in shoeboxes and lunch tins. A fondness for the outdoor rinks and skating ponds and scraps of ice that collect in the ravines, creeks, and parking-­lot potholes of my kid-­dom returned after a long, post-­adolescent, soul-­clearing wander into the land of art, love, dope, movies, and the strains of Killing Joke. Hockey had been drummed out of my heart, head, and hands by demanding coaches, aggressive peers, and a natural tightening of life, to say nothing of the siren of rock and roll. It had led me away from sports, but it had taken me back there again. In rinks like Bill Bolton, Moss Park, DeLaSalle, St. Mike’s, Scadding Court, Dufferin Grove, McCormick, and Wallace Emerson — each pad seated near the heart of the city — I rediscovered the game.

This rebirth of sporting love is common among youngish Canadians who, on the other side of twenty-­five, suddenly see hockey as being more than just the domain of guys in mullets weaned on White Snake and Extra Old Stock. A collection of these enlightened folk can be found every Easter weekend at the Exclaim! Cup hockey tournament, a yearly play-­down sponsored by Exclaim!, a national music magazine that is to The Hockey News what Thurston Moore is to Michael Hedges. The tourney takes place over four days and features twenty-­four musician teams whose players, like me, fell out of, then back in, love with the game. Members of the Fruit, Dufferin Groove, Wheatfield Souldiers, Victoria Humiliation, Vancouver Flying Vees, Edmonton Green Pepper All-­Stars, and all the other teams know that while the dividing line between art and sport is thick, the E! Cup proves that the geek and the goon can co-­exist, even flourish in a single body.

During the tourney, rinkside rock bands serenade the crowd with everything from “More Than a Feeling” played in twenty-­second kerrangs to the occasional hippie drum-­jam extended for as long as it takes the referee to collect players for a faceoff. It’s the Vans Warped Tour meets the Allan Cup Finals. At the evening socials (coined the “Hockey Hootenany” by the organizer, Morningstar Tom Goodwin), the teams become bands again, executing the kind of cultural switcheroo that never would have happened back in my high-­school days, not when left wingers were beating the snot out of safety-­pinners on local football fields. For their performance at the ’04 Hootenany, the Montreal entry, organized by Ninja Tune records, debuted a work by British electronic music king Amon Tobin: a remix of the Hockey Night in Canada theme. The tune — transformed by Tobin’s thunderous beats and growling industrial textures — became a celebration of hockey without the macho cruelty, art without the arrogance.

The E! Cup began as a challenge match between the Sonic Unyon Pond Hockey Squad (Sonic Unyon is a Hamilton label that’s put out records by Frank Black, Sianspheric, and Mayor McCA, who also happens to be Ric Seiling’s nephew) and my team, the Morningstars, which has suffered three straight Cup losses after winning the first three.

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Tropic Of Hockey

Tropic Of Hockey

My Search for the Game in Unlikely Places
edition:Paperback
tagged : adventure, hockey

One hot afternoon in 1998, Dave Bidini – who loves hockey, watches it, plays it, and breathes it – found the Stanley Cup final so tedious to watch that at one point he clicked channels to Martha Stewart – and never switched back. This made him wonder where in the world the game might exist free of the complications of professional sport. He set out to find the tropic of hockey.

His quest took him to a rink on the seventh storey of a mall in Hong Kong – a rink encircled by a dragon-headed …

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Baseball

Baseball

A Poem in the Magic Number 9
edition:Paperback
tagged : canadian

From its remarkable design to its effervescent language, George Bowering's ode to the beautiful game is as original as it is funny, as bittersweet as it is playful. A long-out-of-print Coach House classic, originally published in 1967, Baseball weaves together mythology, autobiography, literary history and pop culture into an inimitable book-length poem that explores all the nuances of the sport. Here are all the greats: Mantle, DiMaggio, Maris,Williams and Manuel Louie, shortstop for the Wenatc …

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Baseball Love

Baseball Love

edition:Paperback
tagged : literary

Having written books in practically every genre, George Bowering is often introduced as someone who adores baseball, yet ironically he did not begin this book about the game until he was appointed Canada’s first Poet Laureate for 2002–04. This picaresque memoir of a road trip with his fiancée through the storied ballparks of a poet’s youthful dreams is built on the bargain of fiction?that the narration of someone else’s life requires the listener or reader to fill in the blanks of what …

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Home Game

Home Game

Hockey and Life in Canada
edition:Paperback
tagged :

Home Game delves into hockey in all its incarnations, from life in a small hockey community and the dreams of amateurs determined to reach the NHL to the reminiscences of players involved in the 1972 Canada-Soviet series. By exploring hockey’s significance to our nation, Dryden and MacGregor help to define what it means to be Canadian.

On publication, Home Game shot to the top of the bestseller lists, establishing itself as a must-read for every hockey fan. The lavish book, with nearly 100 full …

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The fans count down the final seconds. On the bench of the Edmonton Oilers, the players, all standing, hug and laugh and pump their arms in the air. The Stanley Cup is won.

It is the fourth time in five years. But after living through a season of doubts, when to others and sometimes even to themselves they seemed no longer the best, this 1988 Stanley Cup may be for them the sweetest. It is as plain on their dead-white faces as in their incandescent eyes. They have gone through much to get here, and now they feel all the world’s relief, release, and pleasure at having made it. And so do their fans. As the clock melts away, they sing down louder and louder each joyous number.

Wayne Gretzky, their leader, accepts the Stanley Cup, and with a child’s enormous grin he raises it above his head. The fans roar once more. His teammates join round and together they begin their many laps or honour. Like prehistoric men back from the hunt, they display their shimmering prize, passing it from outstretched arms to outstretched arms, sharing it happily, generously, with each other and with their fans.

It is the pinnacle moment for any team. When they came together eight months ago they had one goal — to win a Stanley Cup. They placed themselves in the powerful, yet vulnerable hands of each other. They worked hard and played hard. Sometimes they were weak and selfish. Many times, they forgot the team and went out in search of their own rewards. But only one thing was going to leave them happy. And eight months later, they got it.

They are probably too young to know how rare it is to set out after something and achieve it. Still, in the way the contort their bodies, acting out the feeling that is too big to keep inside, they know they are part of something special.

It is the only moment in a season when there is more than enough for everyone to share, when there is no temptation to pull on the blanket to take more for yourself. Gretzky hands over the prize to Mark Messier, and Messier to Kevin Lowe, and on and on, each new person greeting the Cup with a whoop and a holler to the true delight of the rest. Everyon gives, everyone shares. It is the best of moments.

Oilers’ owner Peter Pocklington works down closer to the ice. From this series he will earn many hundreds of thousands of dollars. Gretzky himself will earn thousands more from NHL and team bonuses. Oilers’ fans have paid higher ticket prices to watch these playoff games, but in return they have seen their remarkable team win. Everyone has given as good as he’s got. There is no resentment, no bitterness, no other agenda. At this one moment, the business of sport does not exist. Anything other than the game has evaporated.

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You Could Believe in Nothing

You Could Believe in Nothing

edition:Paperback
also available: eBook
tagged : literary

Jamie Fitzpatrick's debut novel tells of a muddled adulthood in St. John's, Newfoundland. Derek is forty-one years old. His girlfriend has just left him for a job in Ottawa, his father, a DJ at the local classic rock station, is about to go to court, and his rec hockey team is up in arms about a TV reporter's attempts to glorify their weekly games. When Derek's half-brother, Curtis, comes home, the visit stirs up nagging questions about their parents' early days, and Derek examines again what it …

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Playing With Fire

Playing With Fire

The Highest Highs And Lowest Lows Of Theo Fleu
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover
tagged : hockey, sports
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Why it's on the list ...
See Globe & Mail interview with co-author Kirstie McLellan Day: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/arts/books/kirstie-mclellan-day-hockeys-leading-muse/article2433427/
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Midnight Hockey

Midnight Hockey

All About Beer, the Boys, and the Real Canadian Game
edition:Paperback
tagged : hockey

From Giller-nominated author Bill Gaston, proof not only that hockey players can read, but that some of them can even write.

Midnight Hockey tells the story of Gaston’s final season, as he contemplates hanging up his skates, and looks back on the sport that has meant so much to him.

Sometimes lewd and hilarious, sometimes (though not as often) reflective, Midnight Hockey is a portrait of Canada’s fastest-growing athletic phenomenon: beer-league and oldtimers’ hockey. Gaston spills the beans …

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Excerpt

A Few Words about This Book

One of my favourite writers is Annie Dillard, despite what she once said about writers who write books designed for specific audiences or markets, which is: “It amounts to a wasted and sad life.”

Well, I wasn’t sad, or even all that wasted, while writing this book. Though writing a book for hockey players does sound a little iffy. I mean, the suspicion is not only that hockey players don’t read, it’s that they probably can’t. But my equally strong suspicion is that this won’t deter them. So if this applies to you – that is, if you can’t read but have gotten this far – I salute you for helping me prove Annie Dillard wrong.

That rumour’s all nonsense, that hockey players are dumb. I know of several hockey players who read really well. And Eric Nesterenko, while playing with the Chicago Blackhawks, actually published a book of poems. (To my knowledge he was never beaten up for it – at least not by his own team.) During Hockey Night in Canada interviews, Ken Dryden’s lawyerlike mouth almost single-handedly succeeded in putting an end to that dumb-rumour, but it only half took hold. What I’m getting to in my roundabout way is that oldtimer hockey players only act dumb for a few hours a week, and they actually lead other lives. I’ve played oldtimers with truckers, doctors, mail carriers, chicken farmers, Buddhists, retirees, dirt hippies, preachers, dot-com millionaires, policemen, wood cutters, drug dealers, sea captains, witches, and eighteenth-century explorers. I’ve never played against an all-gay team – that I know of – but that’s probably coming. So, while as hockey players we may in fact not know how to read, in our other life we probably do.

This Season So Far
September

In life, nothing is so delicious as anticipating that next hockey game.

Well, okay, let’s not exaggerate, there’s that anticipation when, well, remember when you were nineteen and half the buttons were undone and your hands, hers too, were shaking and moving faster? That and, sure, I guess there’s also the anticipation of food, when you’re starving and the waiter slides that steaming plate of grilled garlic prawns under your face and you make an involuntary noise, and people from other tables look.

So sex, food, and maybe also shelter during a storm. But a hockey game is right up there.

Sitting in a schoolroom in Winnipeg, every Monday morning I would begin daydreaming about Saturday’s game and I would not stop. That next game was basically all I looked forward to in life. (No sex yet, and I doubt there were prawns in Winnipeg in those days.) In the meantime I would read my Hardy Boys books, and go to Cubs, and watch black-and-white TV, and hang around doing stuff, but all I was really doing was biding time. Physically inert but mentally on fire, I was scoring goal after goal in my imagination.

Same when I started playing oldtimers, I would go to work, stay interested enough to not get fired, and feel a constant pull in my gut about the game that night. Home from work, I’d bounce a kid on my knee, and he’d ask me what I was staring at, and I’d say, “Nothing, Connor,” and he’d say, “I’m not Connor, I’m Lise.” My gear would be bagged and waiting by the door an hour early. I remember once I had a game and my wife, the tardy FeeFee, was late coming home. I recall pacing, and shooting fierce glances at the clock every ten seconds. She didn’t show up with the car, didn’t show up with the car, didn’t show up with the car. She’d forgotten about my game completely and eventually it was too late for me to make the game at all. When she did finally get home, she said I looked as if someone had died.

So, after a whole summer off, anticipation of the first game of the year, well, that’s usually a pretty fine bit of excitement too.

But not this year. I’m not sure why.

I got the call from Lyle yesterday. I was at the kitchen phone, standing in the open door to the deck. Outside, the warm September sun shone and the evening birds chirped in that melody we assume has something to do with human happiness. It seemed far too early in the year for this particular phone call, but apparently we have a practice next week, then our first game the week following.

I picture the practice. It’s always the same. This single practice, which we humorously refer to as our training camp, will begin with a few three-on-twos. That’s to make it seem like a practice, which is where you do drills to “make you a better team.” Everyone will look horrible. Hardly any passes will connect, even from ten feet away. After five minutes of this ragged fiasco, Lyle will interrupt things and we’ll split in two and have a scrimmage. We won’t look any better, and passes still won’t connect, but a scrimmage is more fun. Which of course is the whole point.

So another season begins, but not for me – not yet, if at all. Which likely explains my dramatic lack of enthusiasm.

I’ll be missing this year’s training camp, and the first games. My back just doesn’t seem to be healing. I own a two-man kayak, a hog of a boat so big and stable you could probably stand up in it, throw your head all the way back and chug a beer. That information alone should explain the state of my back, but I’ll supply a bit more detail. Camping the past summer with my family, I was on the beach and the tide was coming in, and in order to keep my kayak from being swept away I had to haul it up one hundred yards of sand single-handedly. Picture a guy digging in his heels, reefing on a twenty-foot craft that is sticking to the sand like Velcro. The guy is greying and paunchy and has no discernible muscles, but he’s acting like he thinks he does.

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