Tough Calls: NHL Referees and Linesmen Tell Their Story, McClelland & Stewart, 1997, $29.99, by Dick Irvin, BCom'53.
By his own count, Dick Irvin has attended more than 2,000 National Hockey League games. It's no wonder the Hall of Fame radio and television broad-caster would look for a new perspective from which to approach the game he knows so well.
He found it by tapping into the memories and experiences of 25 referees and linesmen for Tough Calls.
Irvin did what he does best; he turned on his tape recorder and encouraged the men in the striped shirts to tell their stories and explain some of their toughest moments on the ice.
There are both pros and cons to this style. A plus is that it gives these highly visible but mostly silent men their distinct personalities. Many of these referees and linesmen are funny and insightful; all are passionate about their profession, in marked contrast to the stoicism they maintain on the ice. On the other hand, absent is an outside analysis of their work, an objective assessment of the tough calls they've been forced to make. Irvin is as astute a hockey observer as there is, and a little more of him would have added considerable weight to this new look at the national sport.
A representative selection of officials from the 1940s to the present are interviewed for Irvin's book. Not surpris-ingly, Red Storey, a banquet circuit fixture, is the most engaging raconteur. Most of the officials who tell there stories are refreshingly outspoken about their relationships with players and coaches.
Though the war stories get a tad repetitive by the end, all in all, Tough Calls is an entertaining read for the devoted hockey fan looking for a fresh angle on the game.
Tod Hoffman, BA'85, MA'88
Jacob's Ladder, Porcupine's Quill, 1997, $16.95, by Joel Yanofsky, BA'77, MA'81.
Joel Yanofsky is best known as a book critic for The Gazette, and he's come out with a comedic novel of subtle charm. Jacob's Ladder is the tale of Jacob Glassman, suburban newsrag hack and ghostwriter. The novel follows Glassman as he contends with both his best friend's desperately ovulating spouse, Angie, and the unrequited love of his life, Hope, as they pull at him from all directions. Meanwhile he is being stalked by his oddball neighbour, a rabbinical student who harbours a deep rage against him for past wrongs.
Written as a series of journal entries and playing off that form throughout with illicitly read diaries, newspaper columns, and the ghostwritten analyses Jacob pens for an illiterate "licensed therapist," the novel records Jacob's near-hopeless life as he bumbles his way through two torturously platonic relationships from his dead parents' suburban home. Along the way he fends off a pertinacious real estate agent, a distracted and newly transsexual editor, and a Chinese restaurant owner who rigs the fortune cookies of every woman Jacob brings in for dinner. All is filtered through Jacob's journal, and the result is an often hilarious look into the troubled soul of an ordinary Joe desperate for action.
The only complaint is against the claims that the book stakes out new fictional territory by bringing us suburban Montreal (the novel is a comedy of psychological interiors), and that it is set again-st the back-drop of the 1995 re-ferendum (Jacques Parizeau's infamous ethnic gaffe is glossed over but there is nothing political about the book).
A genuinely touching story, Jacob's Ladder is not a novel you might expect from a critic (even an astute one). A pleasant surprise.
Gabrielle Roy: Une vie, Boréal, 1997, $34.95, François Ricard.
François Ricard, du département de lettres françaises à McGill, a consacré une grande partie de ses travaux à la biographie de Gabrielle Roy. Dans Gabrielle Roy: Une vie, Ricard piste cette auteur, qui était aussi son amie, jusque dans son enfance manitobaine que le choix d'une exi-stence vouée à l'écri-ture avait poussé à laisser derrière elle.
À la lecture, on survol-era bien entendu quel-ques facettes juteuses de la vie de l'auteur: com-ment elle a pu exiger de ses proches, souvent en usant de séduction, un support moral et matériel afin de se consacrer uniquement à la littérature; son rapport compliqué à la sexualité; la culpabilité traînée toute sa vie comme un poids à l'idée d'avoir abandonné les siens, mais qui le plus souvent se transforme en moteur de l'écriture; sa soif profonde de voir son oeuvre lui survivre. Ais la pertinence de la biographie de Ricard est ailleurs que dans ce projet plutôt horizontal de plusieurs biographes que tentent d'expliquer l'oeuvre d'un auteur en retrouvant dans son passé les épreuves qu'il a subies ou le nombre de ses maitresses. Ricard lui-même, d'ailleurs, dit craindre que le phénomène biographique «détourne l'attention [du texte]». De cela, Ricard ne se cache pas, mais il croit en même temps que certaines oeuvres appellent la biographie, que la vie de certains auteurs éclairent le parcours de l'écriture, que le projet de certains écrivains est intime-ment relié à leur vie quotidienne, et qu'ainsi les motifs même de l'écriture puissent être colorés par l'appel du travail; sa nécessite. Dans ce cas précis, je n'hésite pas à lui donner raison. Quelques rares monuments, quelques personnalités extrêmement fortes, sont d'ores et déjà, à côté de leur oeuvre, des exemples, des modèles de déssaisissement, des sources d'espoir qui errent dans quelque panthéon.
Gabrielle Roy, on la voudrait en ces lieux, et parfois assise, un rien paisible.
Jean Pierre Girard
Ice in Dark Water, Véhicule Press, 1997, $14.95, by David Manicom, MA'85, PhD'89. This is Manicom's first collection of short stories and it won the 1997 Prix Parizeau. These stories are of loss, yearning and multi-generational family ties which reflect the author's roots in rural Ontario. The title story is the tale of the last surviving nun in a Montreal convent.
Cyberlaw: What You Need to Know About Doing Business Online, Stoddart, 1997, $22.95, by David Johnston, Sunny Handa, BCom'89, LLM'95, and Charles Morgan, BCL'97, LLB'97. This book is for the general business reader interested in how the law is responding to business concerns in the digital community. Questions such as what security is needed to do business on the net, what technological and legal safeguards currently exist, who owns intellectual property and many others are discussed.
The French Shore: Newfoundland's Port-au-Port Peninsula, Waterous & Co., 1997, $65, by Louise Abbott, BA'72, foreword by E. Annie Proulx. This is a photographic tribute to a little-known Canadian cultural minority who continue to speak the language of their forefathers and pursue a lifestyle in rhythm with the land, the sea, and the seasons.
Sinews of Survival: The Living Legacy of Inuit Clothing, UBC Press, 1997, $49.95, by Betty Kobayashi Issenman, BA'40, DipSW'42. Issenman brings together information that has been scattered in reports, articles, journals and other books. She examines the materials, tools and technology of Inuit clothing, the spiritual, artistic and social traditions, and the importance of preserving the heritage of Inuit peoples. Includes 13 maps, 21 figures and numerous black-and-white photographs.
Not Deaf Enough: Raising a Child Who Is Hard of Hearing with Hugs, Humor and Imagination, A.G. Bell Association, 1997, $24.95, by Patricia Ann Morgan Candlish, BA'71, MLS'73. The first book of its kind for parents and teachers of children with mild hearing losses. Candlish's guide covers everything from hearing tests to teaching aids, and illustrates how parents can help their children become full members of the family, classroom, and society.