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Ice Time: A Tale of Fathers, Sons, and Hometown Heroes Paperback – September 24, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Until now, The Game, by Hall of Fame goaltender and president of the Toronto Maple Leafs Ken Dryden, pretty much stood alone in the annals of great hockey writing. Finally, stiff competition comes from New England author Atkinson, whose year-long study of the high school hockey squad from his alma mater is a bona-fide masterstroke. Cynics might cringe at the Rockwellian town Atkinson describes; certainly it does seem odd in this day and age to follow the antics of some 20 teenagers without one mention of pregnancy, drug abuse or violence. Yet that is precisely the lush and heartwarming portrait Atkinson paints of his hometown of Methuen, Mass., a blue-collar Catholic town split between French Canadians and Italians, where hockey is the common language and obsession. The focal point of Atkinson's book is the game itself, which the author sees as a force of empowerment, family values and community, and most importantly, joy. He strives to share this joy with his five-year old son, Liam, whose pure glee at playing the game and worship of the teenaged players of Methuen High is palpable. Atkinson vividly illustrates the mental and emotional impact the sport has on its players and offers lucid descriptions of game action. The themes of the book may seem quaint hard work, dedication, fairness, faith, camaraderie but that does not in any way lessen its impact.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Library Journal
Widely published three-time Pushcart Prize nominee Atkinson tells the story of the Methuen High Rangers and their quest for the Massachusetts state championship in the 2001-2000 season. Although now a professor of English at Salem State College, Atkinson decided to return to his home community and become the assistant coach of the high school hockey team on which he had played 25 years earlier. This is an observant, evocative book for all readers who remember the days of playing shinny on a frozen pond from sunup to sundown and, if the moon was full, into the night or at least until your mom called you for dinner. Following a young team's single season, it is an emotionally charged, heart-warming tale of personal triumphs, both on and off the ice, of friendship, loyalty, perseverance, and dedicated parents. Many a small town in North America can share the same memories. Recommended. Larry R. Little, Penticton P.L., BC
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Top Customer Reviews
His description of the shifting climes of Methuen since his HS
days are particularly insightful. Just when you are enjoying the
book, though, Atkinson tends to interject some borderline
self-promotional prattle about his own hockey stats or die-hard toughness. The stats are irrelevant, and the toughness, if relevant, should be self-evident.
Overall on a scale of 1-10, a hat trick shy of perfect.
Suddenly, things began to change, as I was now embedded in the author's autobiography of his past hockey and athletic exploits! He makes a very clear statement in the beginning that he doesn't want to be back in his high school years, but simply remember them. Oh, he does remember everthing and anything, and certainly lets the reader know of his dauntless exploits. Who really cares how many goals he scored on a frozen pond playing against a bunch of kids, or popping in nine goals in a pickup game with a senior group pretty much out of shape, or being one of the three stars in the annual JV intersquad scrimmage! Give me a break.
Atkinson managed to work his way into his old high school with the pretense of collecting background for his book. What he did was to live vicariously through this new Ranger team and maybe better his own team record of 5-15-1. He committed the inexcusable error of a writer; allowing your own life to intermingle and become part of what you were trying to write about.
As for the team, too bad Atkinson created an almost Neanderthal mentality and impression of these boys. The naive reader might think this is what hockey is all about, but what a terrible injustice to a group of athletes. As for the coaches, between the locker room expletives, bench outbursts during games, and the pre-game talks about "mating sperm whales" with your female goalie standing in the doorway, I feel this is a reasonable estimate of inappropiate juvenile behavior and thinking with some of the Methuen coaching staff.
At the end, as I struggled to finish his "memoirs," I had to laugh at his mention that he didn't feel quite the same and welcomed going back to Methuen High School after his year. They were probably happy he was finally gone. Typical of "volunteer" coaches or staff, their impression of what they are doing and accomplishing is usually far from reality. The author may have felt he was imparting "words of wisdom," and valuable pieces of experience to members of the team, but Mr. Bobb you really missed the target here. A sixteen, seventeen year-old boy barely hears the words of his parents, much less his teachers, and certainly nothing from a 42 year-old "want-to-be."
If you know anything about high school sports, and/or hockey, save yourself from this self-indulging book. Oh, by the way, why can I be so critical? I have just finished my 34th season coaching high school hockey, ninety-percent of it as a head varsity coach. Along with this, twenty-five years as a head varsity coach in two female sports, and thirty-six years as a high school classroom teacher have all allowed me to see just about everything. In my career, the players and teams of the past are in the books. Next season, all the pages start to be written again.
Mr. Atkinson follows the trials and tribulations of a high school hockey team in a Massachusetts town. I coach high school age boys and Mr. Atkinson has got it right. From the stale smell of a high school locker room to the angst of young love.
I appreciated his attention to detail. In one chapter he describes small town life while on a run through town. This was perfect.
There have been many fine books written about high school sports ("Friday Night Lights", "Fall River Dreams", "In These Girls the Heart is A Muscle") "Ice Time" has joined the club.
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