Bidini, Books & Beers

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Author and musician Dave Bidini has a long tradition of hockey in his work. His latest book, Keon and Me, is no different.

Join Bidini for “Bidini, Books and Beer,” at Avening Hall on Sunday, October 6 at 2 pm. To get us in the sporting mood, Mark Ruzylo, a founding member of the Creemore Men’s Book Club, which is hosting the event, asked Bidini these questions:

Ruzylo: Rate the following Toronto Maple Leafs captains in order of greatness: 13 (Sundin), 27 (Sittler), 17 (Clarke) and 14 (Keon).

Bidini: 14, 17, 27,13.

Ruzylo: Dave Keon has been called a “gentleman hockey player.” What other skills did he have, which set him apart from other players of the time?

Bidini: If you were behind by a goal, you’d put him on the ice. If you were ahead by a goal, you’d put him on the ice. If you needed to score or defend, you’d play him. He was equally adept with both aspects of the goal.

Ruzylo: Does fighting have a place in hockey?

Bidini: Fighting is part of hockey as it exists. But if it were removed from the game, I don’t think people would miss it.

Ruzylo: Is there a Keon curse? Does a banner with #14 need to be hung up in the rafters of the Air Canada Centre before the Toronto Maple Leafs win another cup?

Bidini: I think it would help. I think the karma is a little bent.

Ruzylo: Imagine if Dave Keon were playing game 7 of the Stanley Cup final tomorrow night. What tunes would you download for him to listen to as he was getting ready for the game?

Bidini: Keon liked Stompin’ Tom Connors.

Ruzylo: Is being an unequivocal, diehard Toronto Maple Leaf fan a liability when promoting your book across the country?

Bidini: I think people are attracted by the drama and I think they are curious about it. I guess I’ll find out.

Ruzylo: To what degree is Keon and Me payback or retribution to the bully in your life?

Bidini: It started out as a bit of revenge, but by the end of the book it doesn’t feel like that. It’s more of an attempt to understand myself at that age and to understand who he was. Revenge is a great motivating factor for art. It’s a good way to get even!

Ruzylo: You have a tendency to construct imaginary conversations with the people you write about. Is this something you do often?

Bidini: No, it just started in the last two books. I never thought I would do that. It’s kind of fun. It’s a way that people who write non-fiction can incorporate elements of fiction in their work.

Ruzylo: Both Keon and Me and Writing Gordon Lightfoot are more autobiographical than biographical. What do you think it is about Dave Bidini – his perspective, his journey – that appeals to readers?

Bidini: The writing is pretty naked and unfiltered. I think that has something to do with it. It’s all a bid on exorcism. I think we’re drawn to art and artists who express what we are thinking but cannot say.

Ruzylo: Dave Keon and Gordon Lightfoot are both iconic Canadians who, once off the stage, are private people. Why is it important for you as a writer to tell us their stories, even when they are reluctant to do so themselves?

Bidini: I think the people who are private are more interesting. I think they’re the stories that need to be told. And unless someone takes it upon themselves to tell these stories, they might never be heard. It’s always more interesting to tell about the person you know less about than the one that you do.

Ruzylo: Rock star, hockey great or Nobel Prize for Literature winner – which would you rather be?

Bidini: I had a taste of what it’s like to be a popular musician. And I’ve played a lot of hockey all around the world, so I guess it leaves the Nobel.

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