If the idea doesn’t thrill you, don’t let it put you off the book entirely. The rest of that page and the next is about the Russian troika “racing through the snowy wastes”.
Because it is, as the author observes, quite an irony that winter can strangely accelerate movement (whereas for those of us in the city, not travelling on blades or sleds, it seems to retard it substantially instead).
And that movment can take place in a variety of ways. There is, for instance, a lot to be said about ice-skating outside of the sport of hockey. (For instance, I did not recall that there is a long segment of Wordsworth’s Prelude which is rooted in his recollection of skating as a boy, and it is quoted and discussed.)
But the author does take his opportunity to talk at length about hockey. I’m not inherently interested, but his presentation is solid. From talk of the growth in popularity of team sports to a discussion of game theory, from memories about growing up in Montreal to the debate surrounding the violence in the sport as played professionally today: I wasn’t once tempted to slide into the next chapter instead.
And, admittedly, there is something to the way in which Adam Gopnik approaches ice hockey that almost makes me think I should give it another try.
“Hockey is the one game in which, as a hockey-playing savant of my acquaintance says, a good mind can turn a game upside-down.”
Still, my idea of recreational winter is sitting indoors and looking out. Or, at the height of activity, walking in the snow and marvelling at the stillness, before returning home to sit indoors and look out.
But I don’t mind peering through Adam Gopnik’s fourth window (and I realize that, for many, this might be one of the more interesting views that the book provides).
I’m looking forward to the final chapter, whose subtitle is “The Season in Silence”. Doubt there will be any hocket-chat in there.
The Massey Lectures are still available as podcasts via CBC, and they are also available to purchase through iTunes. You can also buy the CD here. And, best of all, you can buy the Book via House of Anansi.