Just finished reading Don Cherry’s Hockey Stories Part 2, which was a Christmas gift from my folks. Am I the only one who’s surprised that the king of Rock ‘em Sock ‘em has put pen to paper not once, but twice?
Mind you, the writing style here in very informal, one story flowing into the next. It’s almost as if someone sat down in a room with him for 12 hours, tape recorder in hand, and said “So, tell about that time in Chicago…”
Hockey Stories Part 2 touches on Cherry’s playing, coaching and broadcasting days, as well as his time running the show with the (then) Mississauga Ice Dogs. We also get stories from his upbringing in Kingston, along with tales of his heroes like Admiral Nelson. And to be sure, he takes the time to attack his critics and comment on how left-wing, liberal society is going to the dogs. One memorable line comes from a story about an old tavern in Kingston, where he used to go for a few pops. Back in the day, it was for men only until, and here I quote: “The women’s libbers said, ‘No. You cannot have something for men only. We have to be involved.’ You know how governments are. They have to be politically correct, so they stopped all the fun and abolished the men-only rooms. Maybe that’s when I started to dislike political correctness.”
Although it’s Don’s name and face on the cover, we also get to hear from his two adult children, Tim and Cindy, who each get their own chapter to share their hockey stories at the back of the book. It’s interesting to see the family’s perspective on growing up with Grapes, and let’s just say that often times, the apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree.
With its large type and short, snappy anecdotes, Hockey Stories Part 2 is a light, rapid read that an able-minded lector could devour quite quickly, at more than a page per minute. Then again, you’d hafta question how able-minded someone reading a book by Don Cherry might be… Did I mention it was a Christmas gift?
I take it there must be a CBC store in Ottawa or something, since my folks also gave me Canada and Other Matters of Opinion by Rex Murphy this holiday season. Although equally aligned on the political spectrum (in fact, Murphy’s opening essay describes why Don Cherry would make a good governor general!), the difference between Murphy and Cherry when it comes to vocabulary, literary style and diction is akin to comparing the Encyclopedia Britannica to this Wikipedia entry on English footballer Edward Adams.
Canada and Other Matters of Opinion is, in fact, a collection of columns written by Murphy over the past eight years or so and published in The Globe and Mail, during which time the man waxes on everything from Islamic fundamentalism to the new novel by Pamela Anderson (yes, she actually wrote a book, too!) Murphy’s style is droll yet highly educated, distributing literary references like pucks at practice while delivering a sly dose of highbrow humour. I particularly enjoyed him pointing out the banalities of celebrity culture, and also his reminiscences of his native Newfoundland, which is, incidentally, the lone Canadian province that I haven’t set foot in.
I’ll admit that I best knew Murphy from his election-night coverage and the pointy-headed caricature regularly portrayed by Colin Mochrie on This Hour Has 22 Minutes–of which no YouTube clips exist, sadly. But after reading Canada and Other Matters of Opinion, I gotta say, there’s a lotta brains in that slanted noggin!