Friday, November 09, 2007

The Sweeping Saga of Curling

Doug Clark is a talented writer – and very unassuming curler – from North Gower, Ontario, just outside of Ottawa. His work has appeared in The Globe and Mail and Maclean’s, amongst other places, and his 2002 book Dark Paths, Cold Trails was shortlisted for Canada’s Arthur Ellis Award for non-fiction.

Clark’s new book is all-curling, and in a big way. The Roaring Game: A Sweeping Saga of Curling has been published by Key Porter Books and is in bookstores now (also online here). It also gets a glowing five-star review from us, The Curling News.

Indeed, we need to acknowledge some bias here, as TCN Editor George Karrys has been following Clark’s stubborn and determined progress in getting this thing published – more on that in a moment – for years; in fact, he also wrote the forward.

An excerpt:

I still remember the day Doug dared to share his manuscript with me. After a voracious marathon read, I felt dizzy. The scope of Clark’s vision, the sheer size of the curling landscape he painted, was one of a kind. The book wasn’t about a famous athlete or a specific championship, nor a how-to guide, and not a purely historical tome. It was all that and so much more, delightfully bobbing and weaving among virtually every nuance of curling. This had never been done before.

Never before. True, Scott Russell (of CBC-TV fame) wrote a curling book of heartwarming grass roots stories. Doug Maxwell’s final two books were a) a fine summary piece and b) a long-awaited personal history. There have been countless how-to books for the hard-core curler, from Ken Watson to Paul Savage to Ed Lukowich, and now Colleen Jones. An ex-Toronto Sun sports writer named Jean Sonmor wrote a legendary tome about the men who competed at the highest levels (in the era of the 1970s and 80s). No less than nine – that’s right, nine – curling books were released last year. The Black Book’s attention to curling detail – including the statistical mathematics of the sport – are apt to cause dizzy spells (it’s coming, again, by the way). Even Warren Hansen has written an oversized “coffee table book” on the sport.

But nobody has ever thrown all that – and more – into a single piece of work. The ultimate, all-encompassing look at curling, spotlighting all that makes it resonate with the people. It’s all here: fun and fascination, humour, cleverness, Canada-USA-world, the stars, the unknown heroes, charity and celebrity, disabled and able-bodied, the glorious, historical past and the pop-culture present.

Regarding Clark’s stubborn zeal... here’s another excerpt from the forward, which also explains why this book deserves to sit on your shelf, and also that of friends and family.

Clark seems the epitome of a curler. He’s been trying to publish this book for years (curlers are a notoriously stubborn breed); he’s embraced and then broken up with two previous publishers (curlers are wont to change their team lineups as much as any freewheeling pro sport GM); and he tells simply wonderful stories (just park yourself at a table after a curling game and listen to the tales).

It must be said that the loving care this man has taken with our sport – in prose – means as much as the commitment shown by thousands of curling fans, players, administrators and volunteers on a daily basis.

Here’s the Key Porter page again, and the Chapters/Indigo page, too. Canadian readers are urged, as always, to choose Canadian retail sites – .ca as opposed to .com – to support your homegrown talent, and have your purchasing power count when the sales are tallied.

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