The Next Chapter

How Star Wars movies turned Cathal Kelly into a storyteller

The sports columnist and author spoke with Shelagh Rogers about his memoir Boy Wonder, which won the 2019 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour.
Cathal Kelly is a sports columnist and the author of the memoir Boy Wonders. (CBC)

This interview originally aired on Oct. 1, 2018.

Cathal Kelly is a national sports columnist at the Globe and Mail. He's also the author of Boy Wonders, a memoir that reveals his life growing up in the 1970s and 1980s in Toronto's west end.

Kelly spoke with Shelagh Rogers of The Next Chapter about Boy Wonders, which won the 2019 Stephen Leacock Memorial Medal for Humour.

A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away....

"I came from what I call a 'quite normal' broken home. I knew lots of people who shared my single parent situation in working class in the west end of Toronto. My father was gone and was not the greatest person. My family was hardscrabble. It's not like we were in the street with a tin cup, but the idea of complete security as a family escaped us. There were times when it was a little tenuous.

"Star Wars and that idea of creating your own family — going off on adventures and meeting people who stick together — was the type of family I wanted and thought someday I might build.

"I saw that movie when I was a child only once, so I had to reconstruct it in my mind. The story tends to grow on you and become your own. At a certain point you can't remember exactly how things went. That's what Lucas did for a generation of children: he turned us all into storytellers."

Reading life

"Outside of humans, my relationship with books is the most important relationship in my life. Reading has given me more pleasure than anything else, besides relationships with people I care about. Reading to me is a separate life. It stands beyond my current life.

"What you understand from your experience — that is 'one' you. And then there's the 'reading' you — the reading you has been places and seen things and thought about ideas that the real you may never do.

"I know I will never travel in time. I know there are certain places in the world I will never get to but having read something about them by a great author you understand something of it."

Cathal Kelly's comments have been edited for length and clarity.