THE FIVE HOLE STORIES by Dave Bidini (Brindle & Glass), 111 pages, $19.95 cloth. Rating: NN Rating: NN
As a sports writer, I used to spend a lot of time freezing my feet off in rinky-dink hockey arenas, breathing in the stink of sweaty jerseys and jock straps in the locker rooms while asking pasty, naked players how they made the big play. The only things that ever steamed my glasses were the hot showers.
Obviously, Bidini's experience on and off the ice has been a little different. This collection of six short stories takes its title from the space between a goalie's legs and combines two of our favourite winter pastimes: hockey and sex.
Bidini - Rheostatics rhythm guitarist by day, rec league regular by night - certainly knows the game. He's made hockey documentaries and written two previous books on the subject (Tropic Of Hockey and The Best Game You Can Name) and excels at evoking the sweet, brutish nature of the sport.
Presumably, he also knows sex. He's got two kids, after all. But he sure as hell can't write about it. There's so much to admire in how he describes players - faces like uncracked alabaster and foreheads that suggest the cold flat face of a hammer - but once the gear comes off, the stories go laughably limp.
A player's manhood consists of an acorn-hanging-from-a-smoked-frank penis. A lustful lesbian goaltender is described as a female Patrick Roy with nipples like frosted cherries. Tongues are dragged across necks like a deer licking a tree.
Not that the puck bunnies and porn-obsessed players don't provide some entertainment. Like a bantam league matchup (and like sex, come to think of it), sometimes the fun is in the fumbling. Take, for example, Why I Love Wayne Bradley, about an Oiler's lust for the team's all-star forward, the Gifted One, in which the players' mutual passion cascades "across the fag-hating frozen tundra like fireworks out of Harold Ballard's asshole."
Definitely not for hockey purists.
Bidini launches The Five Hole Stories at the Gladstone Tuesday (December 5).