Understanding Ken was released in the Fall of `98 (Douglas & McIntyre, Canada).

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Circa 1973. The parents of a ten-year-old hockey mad boy have recently divorced, and all around him is turmoil. In that same post-divorce year, Ken Dryden, goaltending star of the kid's beloved Montreal Canadiens, quits hockey after three heroic years in the NHL (two Stanley Cups and the legendary Russian Series)—to article as a lawyer, of all things. A lawyer!

The kid, unable to deal with the realities of his family situation, projects all of his anger and frustration onto Ken (who deserves it), for selfishly and cruelly abandoning the only things that truly matter: the Montreal Canadiens (and Yvan "The Roadrunner" Cournoyer), hockey, and playing in the NHL.




Shelby was first published in the United States (1994), by Permanent Press, Sag Harbor New York. Its Canadian rights were bought out by Douglas & McIntyre, who published it there in 1995.

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Shelby is nine months in the life of a young university student by the name of Shelby Lewis. Suffering an existential crisis of undetermined origin on his 20th birthday (although related to an attraction to a very large woman by the name of Minnie T.), Shelby is bed-ridden for three weeks until his best friend, who happens to be his ninety-three-year-old grandmother, wills him up through the flip of a coin. By then, alas, it is too late.

Far behind in his studies, and still depressed, Shelby's university career passively ends. At the same time, his small town parents, believing he is about to finish his degree and enter medical school, continue to send both answering machine encouragement and support payments.

Cut from all he knows, the virgin Shelby drifts into the fringes of mainstream society—a world away from his quintessentially nerd-like existence—yearning to change the world but riddled with guilt about his general lack of integrity and focus, an inability to curb masturbatory excesses and frozen by a desperate lack of money alleviated only by his parents' offerings under false pretense.

Espousing 19th century poetry and a charmed if tragic naivete, Shelby seeks something— anything—to believe in.


copyright 2006 Pete McCormack