Hockey Sur Glace: Stories

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Press: Breakaway Books (January 1, 1999)
Author Name:Lasalle, Peter


Literary short stories on the place of ice hockey in our lives and imaginations.

From Publishers Weekly

Ice hockey is the unifying element that ties together the seven stories and four poems in this poignantly written but thematically thin collection from LaSalle (Strange Sunlight; The Graves of Famous Writers). 
Most of the stories are set in New England, and hockey serves variously as metaphor, subject and narrative vehicle.
"Hockey Angels," for instance, is a coming-of-age tale filtered through pickup games and early schoolboy competition, while "Wellesley College for Women, 1969" offers a more romantic meditation from a Harvard undergrad narrator.
"Le Rocket Negre" deals with the rise and fall of a black star, a relative rarity in the sport, while "The Injury" takes an oblique stream-of-consciousness approach to hockey's unique dangers.
The best yarn in the collection is "Additional Considerations," which posits the existence of a "sleep shot" that represents the narrator's desire to interject those critical statements and observations that often go unsaid in important relationships.
It's refreshing to see a literary approach taken to a game that rarely receives much consideration in fiction.
If much of the prose is far too mannered and elegiac, that's a common enough flaw in writing that uses a particular sport as a prism through which to view the passage of time.
Readers familiar with baseball-inspired literature and its accompanying paeans to spring will be pleasantly jarred by the way LaSalle evokes winter as the trigger for intense memory and feeling.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

LaSalle (The Graves of Famous Writers, 1980), whose work has appeared in such respected collections as Best American Short Stories, groups this compendium of short stories and poems around an unlikely theme: ice hockey. 
In the poignant "Hockey Angels," a teenager learns about faith thanks to a hockey-playing priest and a newspaper clipping about a young skater who survived a plunge through the ice of a local pond.
"Le Rocket Negre" tells of a black hockey player who is rumored to be the second coming of the legendary Maurice "Rocket" Richard, a passionate, lightning-fast skater who played for the Montreal Canadiens.
The three remaining tales are uniformly excellent, although the poems are not as successful and seem a bit out of place here.
All in all, this will make a fine addition to fiction as well as sports collections.?Mark Annichiarico, "Library Journal"Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Kirkus Reviews

Hockey fiction? LaSalle ventures onto relatively virgin ice with this second collection (The Graves of Famous Writers, 1980, not reviewed). 
The seven stories and four poems here are united by their concern--sometimes rather oblique--with the sport of ice hockey, not previously associated with great literature.
Most of the pieces are about young men striving to escape from the working-class New England of their fathers, the New England of dying milltowns and fading Catholic boys' schools.
A Providence-based educational institution serves as a common background in several of the tales, recalled by three generations of hockey-loving kids.
The best of them--``Le Rocket NŠgre,'' about a black hockey phenom whose career is cut short by a combination of racism and bad timing; ``Hockey Angels,'' a fragile concoction uniting a dimly remembered newspaper clipping and an adolescent epiphany; and ``Hockey,'' a tale of middle-aged craziness--manage to convey the pangs of outgrowing one's dreams and of surrendering to the loss of physical powers.
Indeed, dreams figure prominently throughout the collection, both the sleeping and waking variety, and LaSalle is never more eloquent than when wrapping his elegantly poetic prose around them.
(At the same time, the four poems included suggest that his poetic effects work best in his prose.) Several of the stories, particularly ``Additional Consideration,'' a rumination on the difficulties of expressing deep feeling, couched too coyly in the form of an academic paper on hockey, and ``The Injury,'' a breathless stream-of-consciousness monologue, read like creative-writing class assignments.
LaSalle has found a subject and setting worth further exploration, and he clearly has the potential to do something substantial with it in the future.
-- Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP.
All rights reserved.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Peter LaSalle's Hockey Sur Glace: Stories brims with affection for hockey--more accurately, for skating and winter. 
It's full of fond memories of searching for good ice as you tramp through the woods with your friends after school, or taking a breakaway and tucking the puck into a homemade goal on a frozen lake while young women watch, of skating defense while your wife watches.
-- The New York Times Book Review, Ron Carlson

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.


Sports & Outdoors,Hockey,Winter Sports,Literature & Fiction,Genre Fiction,Sports

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Comment List (Total:7)

  •     The intertwining of hockey and life is well done in this book. Great for anyone who loves and lives the game.
  •     A book by and for north people, who grew up in cold winters, whose toes froze on the walk back from pond to home, and who built the small fires of kindling and scrap wood to stay warm as afternoon faded and the hockey game went on. I hadn't thought for years about the way we carried skates, even those of us who didn't play much, by their laces slung over the blade of the hockey stick, but Peter LaSalle gets that detail and so much else about the game and the era, late fifties to early seventies mostly, exactly right. The problem is the stories themselves are lightweight and entirely too similar in tone and substance. The first two -- Hockey Angels and Le Rocket Negre -- are the best of the book, closely followed by three poems, particularly A Pond-Hockey Pledge. So, overall, a slight read, but still, for those of us who come from this place and this era, there's a sweet feel of things gone by here, and it's nice to see hockey written about, and this book can be good consolation in late spring when your team has been unceremoniously booted from the Stanley Cup playoffs.
  •     It is really great to read about hockey and life and how hockey is intertwined with the lives of those of us who love the game.
  •     I struggled to finish this book. The stories are boring.
  •     anyone who is a diehard hockey fan, likes to read about the history of hockey and loves your not so commonshort stories should read thisbook.
  •     Ice hockey, perhaps the greatest and most demanding of sports (do you sense a bias?), rarely has been the subject of fiction. For this reason, if no other, Peter LaSalle's collection of stories, "Hockey Sur Glace", is remarkable in itself. But the seeming anomaly of the book's mere existence only draws the light more brightly on these deeply affectionate, elegantly written, warm and human stories about the way hockey indelibly marks the lives of those who play it, those who watch it, those who live their lives at the rink or on the icy ponds of long northern winters. "Hockey Sur Glace" is, to be sure, an uneven collection of stories (with a few short poems interspersed). The best of the lot are the first two, "Hockey Angels" and "Le Rocket Negre". But while the other stories are somewhat less than remarkable, all of them bear the mark of strong feeling for a sport which, perhaps more than any other, suffuses the lives of those who play it. If you play hockey, or have children who play hockey, or if you just like the sport, reading this slim collection of stories will be time well spent.
  •     This collection of stories is an excellent read for anyone who enjoys a little history, a little drama, and most of all, a little hockey. I'm praying that the publisher reprints the hard cover edition, as I lost mine when I moved out of my old apartment.

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