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Book Reviews

Broken Harts: The Life and Death of Owen Hart

by Martha Hart and Eric Francis

By writing this book, Martha Hart, capably assisted by Calgary sportswriter Eric Francis, has not made a major contribution to literary non-fiction. The prose itself is journalistic, bereft of rhetorical showmanship, but given the subject matter – the life and tragic death of her husband, wrestler Owen Hart – this approach seems most appropriate.

Broken Harts is a memoir of personal details – simply stated in all their tenderness, anger, and grief. Any flagrant sensationalism would betray the memory of the man being written about: not just a famous wrestler, but also a loving husband and father, and a thoughtful man at odds with his gruelling, often treacherous career.

Owen was born into the first family of wrestling – son of the legendary Stu Hart and brother to Bret the Hitman, a prominent world champion – and like many young men from prominent families, he found himself consigned to the family business when he really wanted to become a schoolteacher and spend more time with his family. It’s a terrible irony that he was killed, some say as a result of his employer’s negligence, while performing the skills that made his family famous but for which he himself felt no great devotion.

Broken Harts is more than just another wrestling book, and it’s a shame that it will likely find few readers outside the realm of wrestling fans. The wrestling world here is merely a backdrop – albeit an often freakish and lurid one – the unfortunate setting for a tale of longing, familial love, unforeseen disaster, and the grievous tribulations of sudden widowhood.