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The Way it Looks From Here
Book Review by Lorna Jackson

By Stephen Brunt. Knopf Canada, 416 pp. $37.95, hardcover.

Globe and Mail columnist and author Stephen Brunt calls The Way it Looks From Here: Contemporary Canadian Writing on Sports "a very subjectively assembled cross-section of some of the best Canadian writing on sport". Page one and already he's defensive.

The sports beat may be known as the playpen, but Brunt shouldn't fret about including low-lustre deadline writing, "rapidly becoming a lost art" by "the last of a dying breed". (PU, Steve. Stinks like a slotback's cup at half-time.) The dozen clock watchers he chose beautifully, breathlessly report big news like the 1988 Mike Tyson Michael Spinks one-rounder (Milt Dunnell) and Mike Weir's Masters win (Cam Cole).

Brunt should strut, too, over his Kreskin moves: a 1994 Dunnell piece, written mid baseball strike, on the pride of Maple Ridge, Larry Walker (near-hero in this year's World Series); a 1992 feature by Gare Joyce on a nasty Montreal neighbourhood that bred the NFL's Tommy Kane (the former Seattle Seahawks wide receiver who just got 18 years for killing his wife). Brunt's good choices—most—sew past to present to future with magical stitches.

This reviewer asked a teenager—edits school newspaper, Serena Williams like backhand, loves Ed Jovanovski and Joe Cocker—how many articles about or by women a book claiming to be "essential reading for every serious sports fan" should include. Like Annika Sorenstam scoping a dogleg, she gazed far, far away. "Two-thirds." And two-thirds of 45 equals?

Nice try. Quickies by Rosie DiManno and Christie Blatchford on the Olympic hockey teams; figure skating's Beverley Smith meat; a 1992 report—timely, given how swimmers were browbeaten post-Athens—on the still-sad Elaine Tanner. C'est tout. (We'll ignore the one about wrestler Owen Hart's litigious widow.)

Anthologies invite griping over left out faves: Dave Bidini, Roy MacGregor, Gary Mason in Russia, Toro. But whaddabout the dames? Saturday Night's Lorie Kane story? Not. No Sandra Schmirler, Perdita Felicien, Silken Laumann, or under-19 socceristas. No Allison Griffiths describing Bobby Hull's balls? No naughty Mary Ormsby, who dared kick sand at touchy-feely hockey scribes by calling Dany Heatley a punk with lousy values? Very subjective, oh yeah.

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