On the crawl up Burnaby Mountain this morning, I listened to this kid riff on and on and on about how to get recruited by the right accounting firm. He sure had his shit together—did his research, attended “CA Night,” got his face known by people. I wonder what it’s like to be 21 and have it all figured out? When you’re a budding Patrick Bateman like this kid was, it must feel wonderful.
I was a standee through all this, so I couldn’t pull out my book and try to ignore the young number cruncher. I’m reading another hockey book, a novel from the belter’s shelf. Salvage King, Ya! by Mark Anthony Jarman (Anvil Press—plug, plug) follows an aging hockey player as he bounces between the minors and the majors, from hicksville to the city, between his Intended and a certain Waitress X. It’s so beautifully written that I’ve debated whether I should continue reading it. It’s like listening to a virtuoso guitarist solo for three hours. Sooner or later I want to scream, “Hey, Yngwie, trying playing the damn song!” Jarman never lets up. It’s written in first person, and our narrator has to be the most urbane, erudite, literate hockey chump of all time. Compared to this guy, Ken Dryden has the mental capacity of a fruit fly. The narrator drops references to Keats, TS Eliot, stage directions from The Winter’s Tale; he listens to X, Tom Waits, makes tapes from ancient blues 78s. Everyone knows that hockey players only like Our Lady Peace and The Hip. So my sense of credibility is strained, and not just by lines like “Let the galled jade wince, our withers are unrung,” and “And new lambs from the hills, ravens, her navel like a dark bullet hole, a tongue remembered, a cough held and waiting like fleece in amber cathedrals of winter light.” Crikey. As my dad would say, “Just shoot the puck!”
The writing is damn impressive, though. The book is subtitled “A Herky-Jerky Picaresque,” so perhaps I’m not interpreting the narrator’s voice in the spirit the writer intended.
The book also namechecks Harold Snepsts, which made me smile. It was spelled “Snepts.” Jenni, tell Kaufman that Willingdon Black and I will proofread for beer.