Saturday, 13 February 2021

TBC: Beauties

With life on the prairies being as frigid and frozen as it is right now, I began another dive into a book that I've been wanting to read for some time. I'm a big fan of James Duthie's work on TSN and I am still eternally grateful for the interview he gave The Hockey Show back in 2015. His books have been funny, informative, and great reads in the past, so Teebz's Book Club is proud to review the next book in author James Duthie's works in Beauties: Hockey's Greatest Untold Stories, written by James Duthie and published by HarperCollins Publishers Ltd. Seeing how many players contributed stories for James Duthie's new book had me wanting to read these tomes, and his ability to frame these stories with relevant information and knowledge proved my decision to hibernate with a good book to be a smart one.

You already know James Duthie from his hockey work on TSN, but there's a lot more to James Duthie than just his TV work. As the bio on the dust jacket reads, "James Duthie covers hockey as well as the Grey Cup, Super Bowl, and Masters Tournament on TSN. His entertaining and sharp=witted style make him a fan favourite across Canada and one of the most-followed media personalities on Twitter. Duthie's natural charisma and extensive history in sports broadcasting allow him exclusive interviews with some of the biggest stars in sports and entertainment. His work has earned him multiple awards, including eight Canadian Screen Awards and the Sports Media Canada Award for Outstanding Sports Broadcasting." I have been lucky enough to review The Guy on the Left here on HBIC, but James has also penned The Day I (Almost) Killed Two Gretzkys and was a co-author of The Call Me Killer. James and his family live in Aurora, Ontario.

Beauties is one of those hockey books where readers will have no problem crushing it over a weekend or on a plane while travelling. There are so many good stories from players and people in hockey that James Duthie has collected that make the read is easy, entertaining, and interesting. If you're doing the count, there are 57 official stories (and one additional one by Roberto Luongo in the foreward) in the book, and I can't say any of them are snoozers in any way.

There are a handful of stories in Beauties that will tug at the heart strings a little, though, and I want to point these out because not all stories from hockey are funny or goofy. In three separate stories, one will read about Laila Anderson who inspired the St. Louis Blues to be more, Jonathan Pitre whose story inspired a number of hockey people to reflect on their own lives, and Chris Beaudry whose life was torn open by the Humboldt Broncos tragedy. It's hard not to be emotional reading how these people overcame challenges in their lives with hockey playing a major role in those stories. Good writing will grab you in stories like this, and James Duthie does a good job in capturing the emotions of the stories.

While I won't repeat any of the stories James includes in the book here - buy a copy of Beauties! - I will post a short clip of Roberto Luongo's foreword that should entice you to pick up Beauties from your local library or bookstore. Luongo writes,
"A few nights later, we are having our season-ending party at a place on Kits Beach in Vancouver. It's right on the corner of a street. And I am sitting at the corner table with a bunch of the guys, having a few beers. A fire truck drives by, and one of the firefighters yells, "Hey, Luongo!" and throws a roll of toilet paper on my table.
That paragraph doesn't tell you much about Luongo's night or what happened in the story he told, but you can probably imagine that there's a heckuva tale behind the toilet-paper-from-a-firefighter teaser that I posted. How will you find out? Get your hands on a copy of Beauties today!

Overall, Beauties is an outstanding read about tales that one likely wouldn't hear outside the arena in which these players and people work. Some will make you laugh, others will evoke emotional responses, and more will have you shaking your head, but Beauties does an excellent job in pulling back the curtain on your favorite hockey pros and revealing some of the more memorable moments of their careers. Because of this fun and emotional look at the game that James Duthie presents on the book's 301 pages, Beauties is absolutely deserving of the Teebz's Book Club Seal of Approval!

There are a few moments of language used that wouldn't be suitable for kids, but the vast majority of the stories told are fairly tame. Because of this PG-rating that Beauties would hold, this book is recommended for teens and older, especially since a lot of the player names would be recognizable to younger readers. Look for Beauties at your local bookstore or library today!

Until next time, keep your sticks on the ice!

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