Books·Canadian

Searching for Terry Punchout

Searching for Terry Punchout is a novel by Tyler Hellard.

Tyler Hellard

Adam Macallister's sportswriting career is about to end before it begins, but he's got one last shot — a Sports Illustrated profile about hockey's most notorious goon, the reclusive Terry Punchout — who also happens to be Adam's estranged father. Adam returns to Pennington, Nova Scotia, where Terry now lives in the local rink and drives the Zamboni.

Going home means drinking with old friends, revisiting neglected relationships, and dealing with lingering feelings about his father and dead mother — and discovering that his friends and family are kinder and more complicated than he ever gave them credit for. Searching for Terry Punchout is a charming and funny tale of hockey, small-town Maritime life, and how, despite our best efforts, nothing can save us from becoming our parents. (From Invisible Publishing

Searching for Terry Punchout was a finalist for the 2019 Amazon Canada First Novel Award.

From the book

This bed is my reward after three long days of driving. My body is stiff and aches with exhaustion. When I collapsed here, I was sure the bed would swallow me and I'd sleep for days, but the groaning springs, the mattress that smells of stale rust, and my own creeping anxiety won't let me settle. If I'm being honest, it's probably just the anxiety.

The Goode Night Inn sits on the edge of Pennington in northeastern Nova Scotia. It's a motel for tourists: better people from better places who find musty mattresses quaint and charming. Every surface in the room is covered with lighthouses and mayflower patterns and decorative shells. There's a coffee table made from an old lobster trap. Being here makes my chest tight, East Coast kitsch fuelling my panic.


From Searching for Terry Punchout by Tyler Hellard ©2018. Published by Invisible Publishing.

Why Tyler Hellard wrote Searching for Terry Punchout

"There's not a lot that's more Canadian than hockey, especially if you grew up in a small town. If you play hockey in a small town, it does become part of your identity. It was something that I thought a lot of people could relate to. I personally ran away from my small town and I blamed this town for a lot of the things that I was unhappy with. I didn't think very highly of the town or the people in it, which was awful. It took me years to figure out that the problem was me. It wasn't growing up in that town that I didn't like. I didn't like being 14.

It took me years to figure out that the problem was me.- Tyler Hellard

"The character Adam has to go on a journey to understand who he is. He spent a lot of time running away from a town and blaming the town for his problems. And only when he's left with no options and has to go back to the town does he start to realize that the town's fine and the people in it are good people. He realizes the community they've built for themselves — and the community that he can re-enter — is something that he's missing in his life."

Read more in Tyler Hellard's interview with The Next Chapter.

Interviews with Tyler Hellard

Tyler Hellard on his debut novel Searching for Terry Punchout. 3:03
Calgary author Will Ferguson calls Calgary writer Tyler Hellard's debut novel 'funny, quirky, sad, and sweet'. Doug Dirks agrees with the assessment and chats with Hellard about his book. 7:22

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