DATELINE: Sordid Sports Fiction
After twenty years and a long time out of print, the best novel on the sport of hockey has returned for readers, new and old. Rink Rats is a shocker still. It’s now an e-book and will be available in paperback soon.
Based on life during one college season during the 1990s, Mike Tortorella’s story continues to be controversial and revealing. Mobie Monaco, the erstwhile captain of a rag-tag bunch that follows his lead into depths of depravity, narrates his life-story.
With hockey players enjoying a long-established reputation as the wild men of sports, you can certainly expect an adult tale of moral turpitude. Tortorella’s tale is a spiritual journey above all else, whether it is a quest for a championship, or a test of one’s moral character.
The story is built around the effort to commit every deadly sin they can encounter and break every Commandment that is set in stone. All the time there is an interesting parallel to Melville’s voyages. Far more metaphoric, the characters are like rats leaving a sinking ship, but are more familiar as the young players who hang around hockey rinks and become enamored of the lifestyle. This is NOT a young-adult novel.
The original story keeps its freshness and provides insights into the daily life, practice, and play on and off ice that can only come from someone who was there.
You may think the novel will only appeal to a certain fan of a political stripe, but self-knowledge is indeed a dangerous avenue to pursue. We aren’t sure how much of the tale is completely true—and how much of it is so unbelievable as to be utterly true.
These rough-and-tumble players are not figure skaters guilty of icing, but you will experience their notorious escapades. In the final analysis, as Tortorella’s book states, “The great shroud of the ice age rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.” The human condition is indeed timeless as seen in one breathtaking season at a New England college.