Charns straps on a pair of beaten-up ice skates to take on the NHL–and the American Way.
The author is many things to many people: a left-wing lawyer working for the good of the people of North Carolina; husband to his saintly wife Tucker; father to a gaggle of small children; and a vehement critic of the current White House. Most of all, he’s a dedicated hockey fan, a condition that he readily admits makes him half-crazy. His well-meaning but meandering book is either a string of very short essays or one very long one. It ties together all of the author’s myriad passions by relating them back to his first love, hockey. In 2004, the quirky, irrational Charns was finally pushed over the edge by the double whammy of Dubya’s re-election and the NHL lockout that canceled the season. To find peace, he looks for solace in unusual places. He mulls over a half-serious, conspiracy-minded lawsuit that accuses the White House of ordering the lockout to punish Canada for refusing to fight in the Iraq War. He also investigates the process of becoming a Canadian citizen, defends clients under serious threat and forms an amateur hockey league with his kids. While conservative readers surely won’t appreciate the political slant, the author’s commitment to his beloved sport is endearing. The best bits occur when this overweight, middle-aged, distinctly American guy decides to get on the ice and finally learn to play for himself. His confessions are disarmingly candid, revealing the effect that hockey has on everything from his sex life to his grief over his father’s death. They’re also quite amusing, especially the author’s discovery that he might legally be able to nominate the Charns Puck Chuckers (his wife, children, dog and fish) to compete in the cancelled Stanley Cup Final. While it’s certainly self-absorbed, the author’s subversive wit and genuine belief in the game’s magic are oddly persuasive.
An amiable meditation to warm even the iciest hearts.