Great hockey reads: King Leary by Paul Quarrington

"I thought the canal was a beautiful thing. I spent so much time beside the water that it seemed to the young me that the canal had moods. Sometimes it would be whitecapped and rough, and I wouldn't think that the wind was up and blowing over a storm, I'd think the water was angry. Or sometimes it would be gentle, with little pieces of sunlight bouncing on it, and I knew that the canal was happy and that if I went swimming the water would play on my body.

But I loved her best when she froze.

A few nights of the right weather, and I'm talking thirty below, teethaching and nose-falling-off-type weather, and the canal would grow about a foot of ice. Hard as marble, and just as smooth. Strong and true. It gives me the goose bumps just thinking about it. Lookee there, see how goosebumped I am right now."

Paul Quarrington, King Leary

The story of Percival Leary transcends the label "hockey book." Paul Quarrington's 1988 classic tells the often touching, often hilarious story of a once-great hockey hero. Now largely forgotten and sharing a room in a nursing home with an alcoholic reporter, Leary looks back on the highs and lows of his professional and personal life as he sets out on one final quest to reclaim his title of "King of the Ice." It went from out-of-print to must-read in 2008, when it won Canada Reads -- be sure to listen to those debates here.

Paul Quarrington and Dave Bidini -- the panelist who chose King Leary for Canada Reads -- spoke about the book's victory on Q in 2008:

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