by Michael Barnholden
IF T14EY EVER get around to reading Paul Quarrington`s latest, hockey players will soon be joining other minorities in clamouring for publishing opportunities to correct negative images presented in white mainstream literature. We all know that hockey players can`t, won`t, or don`t read,
so it is unlikely they`ll be joining the natives and feminists on the barricades. Still, the possibility is infinitely funnier than anything in this book. Quarrington`s chief virtue seems to be that he stereotypes everyone equally. Women, natives, television announcers, French Canadians, scientists, Swedes, Chinese, born-again Christians, children, hockey players, they`re all here in one dimension. They`re almost all drunks. You would think that in a comic story at least the drunks would fare better. But no, even the drunks in Logan in Overtime are tired old stereotypes, right down to the projectile vomiting. The inspiration for this book seems to have been rushed over from central casting. This is Kinsella on a bender, Kinsella without an editor.
At least it`s a tried and true formula: you take an event, albeit a highly implausible one, and take it to its illogical conclusion. Kinsella has been hitting this note for years, giving the Canadian reading public exactly what it wants -- fantasy. Pure unadulterated fantasy. Fortunately Kinsella has the good sense to keep his short, which is exactly where this project goes terribly wrong. I have yet to refer to this as a novel, picaresque or otherwise, because I believe it is in the running for the title as the world`s longest short story. How Quarrington gets the page count up over 200 is the most amazing thing about this book. Amazing but simple, really. He just takes everything from just about everywhere, including, believe it or not, the kitchen sink -- and throws it in. He gives us science fiction, native tales of power, Chinese philosophy, a special guest appearance by Stephen Hawking in schoolboy drag, some dialect of the "trow de cow over de fence some hay" school and two (count `em, two) characters playing the big guy (God, not Gretzky).
Some of these are funny in isolation, but taken together it simply doesn`t work. It reminds me of the worst of Wayne and Shuster`s attempts to present Canada to bored American audiences. Logan in Overtime is not funny. I didn`t laugh once, and I think that hockey is hilarious. The thing that is really funny about hockey is anybody over 19 taking the game seriously. That`s why people like Howie Meeker
are such a scream.
So Quarrington had this gerru of an idea -- the longest overtime game in the history of hockey. What went wrong? Quarrington must he able to "rite (you don`t put Out Six books in the last few years because You`re washed LIP) so the problem must lie elsewhere. I couldn`t figure it Out SO I asked my own Private Howie Meeker for some colour analysis.
"Well, Mike, YOU got a couple problems right here, first you gotta show your characters some respect. Golly gee, if you`re gonna go -around Stereotyping everybody like that, you should at least show that you like some of them, some of the time anyhow. It`s just not right Putting them on the ice or in the stands and treatin` `em with that kinda contempt. Even Harold Ballard Wouldn`t stoop so low. And since you car* fire all o` the players let`s get rid o` the coach -- I mean the editor, if in fact this here crew even has one. We can`t tell one way or the other `COS Most Publishers don`t list them in the publishin` data an(-] jumpin` Jehoshaphat they Sure as shootin` should. Quarrington`s gonna need somebody to blame this disaster on."
The only good thing I can say about this too-long short story is that the print is large enough for hockey players to read. But if any of them do get their hands on Logan in Overtime, Quarrington better keep his head up when lie sees his next blueline