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Ghost Stories: A Review
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Article by Scott Tingley, February 16, 2008

Let's get this out of the road right now. If your little one is a big hockey fan and you are looking for a hockey comic to get the aforementioned little one reading this is not the book you are looking for.

There now on to the serious stuff.

One of my favourite books ever is a mix of essay on hockey in Canada and memories of the author, David Adams Richards' boyhood and the role hockey played in it. The memoir portion of Hockey Dreams: Memories of a Man Who Couldn't Play takes place on the Miramichi river in the sixties, and in these few chapters we realize why the author did not grow up to write sunny books full of happy people. It's not that he is all doom and gloom, but the characters he writes about make decisions based on guilt, low self esteem, loneliness, and family pressures. You can see the negative consequences coming a mile away, but the decisions are still made. Sometimes his characters are given a chance for redemption (my favourite For Those Who Hunt the Wounded Down ), sometimes nothing goes well at all ( Mercy Among the Children which was too depressing for me to finish - oh, the bad choices). Hockey Dreams is a little different than his other books. It is a powerful work full of National pride and poor decisions that gives you insights on the author's writing style.

But this is not a review of Hockey Dreams. Although, I suspect that David Adams Richards may be moonlighting as a graphic novel creator.

Well, not really, but I think that any fan of Richards' would really enjoy Volume 2 in the Essex County trilogy, Ghost Stories . Writer/Artist Jeff Lemire is creating serious Canadian literature that should be getting noticed by all the right critics. I'm not sure if it is or not, but I will be telling people about it.

Is there another type of real estate that has as much potential for heartbreak and sadness as a farm? Ghost Stories tells the story of the farmer/hockey playing Lebeuf brothers; the poor choices made, and the consequences that haunt them. The whole thing is told through the delusional flashbacks of the elderly Lou Lebeuf, now a deaf and profoundly lonely man. Like in a Richards book, Lou has lived his live making decisions based on poor judgment and guilt. Lemire masterfully uses the unique storytelling technique, a new-to-me twist on flashbacks, to tell this lonely story of farms and hockey.

This is a fine piece of Canadian lit that I think is more suitable to the high school classroom than volume one. There are some connections between the two books, but they are subtle and not necessary to your understanding of the story. Vol. 1 has a lot of swearing, but #2 does not have nearly as much. Ghost does have a sex scene, but it is not at all graphic (pg 91). Be sure to read this yourself before bringing it into your classroom, but I think it would be fine to recommend it to your own high school aged child. A Seinfeld rerun is more graphic.

I can't say enough about this book. I want to see it nominated for the important awards. Top Shelf, please get in the applications. I'll give you a head start:



 

 


 

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