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The Five-Hole Stories

by Dave Bidini

When hockey wordsmith and Rheostatics guitarist Dave Bidini enters a rink, he doesn’t see sticks, pucks, nets, or ice; he sees metaphors.

This can be fun, for a while.

In this quickie read, Bidini offers up a half-dozen erotic stories and vignettes that all touch on hockey, but mostly touch on body parts. Bidini goes all the way with it, from “the pug of [a fictional Toronto Maple Leaf player’s] shaft” to the exchange of tongues between two male teammates to the five-hole itself, the hockey name for the spot between a goalie’s legs, but also the singular destination of all those who wish to score – especially off the ice.

The voices of the characters in this puck-based literary six-pack range wildly, from 1940s noir to pop-and-hockey-culture-citing potheads, which is fine, except that it makes it difficult to figure out which audience the book is aimed at.

Bidini is a keen observer – an Eyes Wide Shut-style orgy scene is described as “a scaffold of legs, arms, torsos, sacks and tits” – but he also seems to inhabit a world where every cabbie is a philosopher and every journeyman minor-leaguer is a poet. Perhaps disillusioned by the money-grubbing, lockout-inducing players and owners of today’s NHL, Bidini has imagined a sepia-toned hockey world that consists of players with nicknames like “Skeezer,” “The Chizzler,” “The Scotsman,” “Ulcers MacCool,” “Squid,” and “The Chief.” Nostalgia is OK, but here it seems a little forced.

There’s no doubt Bidini loves hockey – the Rheos are local shinny legends in Toronto – but unless you’re a hardcore fan, this compact cross-section of ice-bound carnality is offside.