Finnie Walsh

Steven Galloway, Author Raincoast Books $13.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-55192-372-7
Two fundamentals must be mastered in any successful sports novel: one is a penetrating knowledge of the sport in question; the other is skillful characterization. Galloway exhibits the former in spades, but the latter is less evident in his promising but uneven first effort. Paul Woodward, son of a mill worker in a small northern Canadian town, grows up playing and practicing his position as defenseman with his best friend and goalie, Finnie Walsh, son of the mill's owner. Their unusual friendship transcends class boundaries and develops through a series of accidents and near-supernatural coincidences that unfold over 14 years. Both eventually make it into the minor leagues, playing on the same team for a while, but when they meet up later on opposing sides of the ice, a foolish but loyal act leaves one of the two permanently sidelined. Some of the supporting characters--including Paul's younger sister, who is always wearing a lifejacket and receives premonitions from her bedside lamp, and a one-armed janitor who keeps losing his prosthesis--are quirkily engaging, but while this bittersweet first novel is workmanlike, it never quite captures the imagination or the heart. Intrusive editorial comments about the state of professional hockey and some rather clumsy attempts at armchair psychoanalysis hobble the narrative, which slips and slides aimlessly in the second half--although in the concluding pages it recovers some of the momentum promised in the opening section. (Feb. 15)
Reviewed on: 02/01/2001
Release date: 02/01/2001
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 176 pages - 978-0-307-39865-9
Hardcover - 165 pages - 978-1-55192-835-7
Ebook - 112 pages - 978-0-307-39866-6
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