books 'n' other stuff

Updated November 25 2016

Keon And Me
A Wild Stab For It
Writing Gordon Lightfoot
Home And Away
Canada Reads
Dingers: Contemporary Baseball Writing (anthology)
Around the World in 57½ Gigs
For Those About to Write
The Five Hole Stories
The Best Game You Can Name
The Greatest Hockey Stories Ever Told
For Those About to Rock
Tropic of Hockey
I Am a Hockey Nomad
On a Cold Road

Other writings

Keon And Me (2013)
Trade paperback

Hockey is the lens through which we see our lives-how we measure right and wrong, how we understand our hopes and fears. So it was for Dave Bidini in 1974, the last year Dave Keon played in Toronto. In a new grade in a new school, Bidini found himself the victim of a bully-a depredation he could understand only by thinking about what the Leafs' dauntless captain went through game after game.

Throughout his twenty-two-year career, Keon was only in one hockey fight, in his last game as a Leaf on April 22, 1974. It was on this day that the eleven-year-old Bidini decided to fight back, an occasion that the writer looks back on with breathtaking courage and honesty.

Told in two narratives-one from the point of view of the young Bidini growing up in Toronto in the early '70s and one from the perspective of the man looking for his absent hero-Keon and Me tells not only the story of a hockey icon who has haunted Toronto for decades, but of a life lived in parallel to Keon's. It's the story of cultural change, an account of the tribulations of the NHL's most beloved (and most despised) franchise in the decades since Keon left under a cloud, and most of all it is a story of growing up, with all the wisdom and sadness that imparts.

Published by McClelland & Stewart, 312 pages. To buy a copy, click here.

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A Wild Stab For It: This is Game Eight From Russia (2011)
Trade hard cover

As summer turned to fall in 1972, Canada was redefining itself and its place in the world. Politically, a spirited election campaign asked probing questions about the nation's past, present, and future - the nationalist pride of recent centennial celebrations contrasted with the stressed relationship between English and French Canada post-FLQ crisis. In a very different arena, similar issues were raised by the trials and triumphs of the players of Canada's game.

On the 40th anniversary of what is arguably the single most important sporting event in Canadian history, Dave Bidini travels back through time to September 28, 1972. By asking Canadians of all stripes - athletes, artists, politicians, and pundits - to share their memories, whether they were there in Moscow's Luzhniki Ice Palace or watching a TV rolled into a classroom, Bidini explores how the legendary Canada-Russia Summit Series changed hockey history and helped shape a nation's identity.

Doing what John McPhee's Levels of the Game did for tennis and American culture, Bidini asks: did something about being Canadian influence the outcome of the series, or did the outcome of the series change what it means to be Canadian?

Published by ECW Press, 112 pages. To buy a copy, click here.

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Writing Gordon Lightfoot (2011)
Trade paperback

July, 1972. As musicians across Canada prepare for the nation's biggest folk festival, held on Toronto Island, a series of events unfold that will transform the country politically, psychologically--and musically. As Bidini explores the remarkable week leading up to Mariposa, he also explores the life and times of one of the most enigmatic figures in Canadian music: Gordon Lightfoot, the reigning king of folk at the height of his career. Through a series of letters, Bidini addresses Lightfoot directly, questioning him, imagining his life, and weaving together a fascinating, highly original look at a musician at the top of his game. By the end of the week, the country is on the verge of massive change and the '72 Mariposa folk fest--complete with surprise appearances by Bob Dylan, Neil Young, Joni Mitchell, and yes, Lightfoot--is on its way to becoming legendary.

Published by McClelland and Stewart, 288 pages. To buy a copy, click here.

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Home and Away: In Search of Dreams at the Homeless World Cup of Soccer (2010)
Trade paperback

An uplifting tale of travelling with Team Canada as they compete for the Homeless World Cup. In 2008 Dave Bidini accompanies Homeless Team Canada to the Homeless World Cup in Melbourne, Australia. As he watches team members play and shares their disappointments, frustrations, joys, and triumphs, he comes to care deeply about the players - 45-year-old Billy, who is a former addict; the quick-footed 24-year-old Moroccan immigrant Juventus, who refuses to talk about his past; and most of all, the endearing teenaged Krystal, who carries a photograph of her long-dead mother and dreams of a better life. Bidini gets to know the other teams at the World Cup and describes the games themselves, culminating in the final between Canada and Malawi and a chance for the talented Krystal to join a soccer team in Holland. Bidini also begins to understand what this tournament means to people. He sees firsthand the power of sport to transform the lives of those on the edge - how the decision to play this game can mean the difference between survival or heading down a road of addiction, poverty, or crime. Home and Away offers a powerful look at the poor and dispossessed, from the barrios of Mexico City and the shanties of West Africa to the streets of North America and Europe, and illuminates the renewed meaning that these homeless players find in the beautiful game.

Published by Greystone Books, 192 pages. To buy a copy, click here.

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The winnah and still champeen ...
db carried the day on behalf of his choice for CBC's Canada Reads. Paul Quarrington's hockey comedy is the first comic novel to triumph in Canada's virtual book club cum hockey fight.

Of course, music fans already know something about Quarrington, whether from reading Whale Music or seeing the eponymous movie -- but, if you don't, well, now you have two reasons to seek him out.

But there's lots more to see, read, listen to than the announcement of the victor. Quarrington himself responds to listener comments prompted by his victory. Paul and db tour the Hockey Hall of Fame and chat hockey, also available from the same page. And, db penned a tribute song to King Leary, too.

To review the Canada Reads knucklefest, visit the Canada Reads website by clicking here.

Inside db's friendship with Paul Quarrington
db joins Paul Quarrington and Randall Maggs in episode 4 of AOL's "Moving Stories" expounding on how to "write hockey," live hockey and love hockey. Well worth the visit to the site for anyone interested in Canada's national game.

db's catalogue for sale online
db's novels published by McClelland & Stewart are now available for purchase direct from the publisher online. Click here for db's author profile and links to specific books.

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dingersNEW Dingers: Contemporary Baseball Writing (2008)

db's article about Warren Cromartie is anthologized in this collection of baseball writing.

One in the series of Moosehead Anthologies, this edition is edited by David McGimpsey, who also happens to write the "Sandwich of the Month" column for Enroute magazine, Air Canada's in-flight freebie.

Published by DC books, 166 pages. To buy a copy from Amazon, click here.

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Around the World in 57½ gigs (2007)

db's latest recounts his adventures as a man with a guitar in search of the global state of rock'n'roll, and was released by McClelland & Stewart on October 30.

Around the World in 57½ Gigs chronicles Bidini's global journey after the decision of the Rheostatics, the much-loved Canadian rock outfit he co-founded, tohang it up. Feeling adrift from his moorings, Bidini decided to go on a very long road trip, playing solo and finding out about the state of rock 'n' roll around the world. He first set out for London, England and from there ventured to Finland, Russia, China, Sierra Leone, and Ghana, punctuated by trips to Newfoundland, Gananoque, Quebec and New York City. Bidini found that the rock 'n' roll machine has not yet flattened the globe; each place has taken what suits it from the West's dominant music and ignored the rest. Metal may have had its heyday in North America, but it still suits the quiet Finns as a soundtrack for suicidal musings. In China, db had to coach the quiet crowd, seated demurely in plastic chairs, how to clap rhythmically. In Russia, where live rock lurks in hard-to-find places, the obscure British band Smokie is far more popular than even the Rolling Stones, and the first Western band Mongolian audiences wanted to hear live was Boney M. In Africa, Bidini found out just how far rock has wandered from its roots and, in Newfoundland, just how true it has stayed.

“This man was made for touring. Dave Bidini's willingness to see the unusual, to listen out for the noteworthy, even after months of dragging himself and his instrument of choice into far places previously untouched by Canadian rock and roll, makes this book a real treat. Bidini's enthusiasm, his love of the music and the world, hop off the page. I loved this book.”
—Roddy Doyle

The Travels pages of db's website includes pictures not in the book, and Music boasts recordings made on his African wanderings.

Click here for a review in the April 2008 edition of the Literary Review of Canada.

Click here for the article and an interview with Open Book: Toronto, celebrating Canadian publishing.

Click here for a review in Chart Attack, here for a review on the Torontoist blog site.

Published by McClelland and Stewart, 328 pages. To buy a copy from the publisher online, click here.

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For Those About to Write (2007)
Trade paperback

db's companion volume to For Those About to Rock (2004) brings similar insights in his inimitable style to young writers and writers-to-be. Includes anecdotes about becoming a writer, beginning with his first book, On a Cold Road.

Published by Tundra Books, 136 pages. To buy a copy from the publisher online, click here.

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The Five Hole Stories (2006)
Trade paperback

This collection of six short stories blends Canada's twin obsessions -- hockey and sex -- in unexpected and startling ways. CBC radio's Talking Books named Five Hole one of Canada's top 25 books for 2006.

Click here to read a sample chapter. Published by Brindle and Glass. The Five Hole Stories features art by Matt James. is hosting a terrific little video of Dave's T.O. book launch for The Five Hole Stories from the Gladstone Hotel. Click here to watch.

To buy a copy online, click here.

The book also inspired Five Hole: Tales of Hockey Erotica, the headline show at One Yellow Rabbit's 2007 High Performance Rodeo. Visit db's Travels page for photos, news and video.

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The Best Game You Can Name (2006)
Available in hardcover and trade paperback

The Best Game You Can Name, the title of which is stolen from idol Stompin' Tom Connors' "The Hockey Song," was released nation-wide in September 2006. The book is now in its third hardcover printing.

In 2004, db laced up his skates to play defence with the Morningstars in the E! Cup tourney. While thrashing around the ice, he got to thinking about how others see the game.

db talked to former professional players about their hockey experiences and the result is vintage Bidini — an exuberant, evocative, highly personal, and vividly coloured account of his and his team’s exploits, interwoven with the voices of such hockey heroes as Frank Mahovlich, Yvan Cournoyer, John Brophy, Steve Larmer, and Ryan Walter.

db has provided an unedited sample chapter, called "Hoser's Promenade," downloadable here in .pdf format. Dave calls it the "music-ish" chapter of the new book, which makes it suitable for posting to this site. Who'da thunk Frank Mahovlich was so fond of painting?

Published by McClelland and Stewart, 312 pages. To buy a copy, click here.

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Baseballissimo (2005)
Available in hardcover and paperback

In the spring of 2002, db followed and played with the Nettuno Peones in Italy's Serie B baseball league to write Baseballissimo. Nettuno was his destination because this town, south of Rome, has been the baseball capital of Italy since 1944, when the game was introduced by the American GIs who liberated the region.

Baseballissimo was named a Notable Book of 2005 by USA Today and excerpted in the inaugural collection of Best Baseball Writing of the year.

Click here to read a sample chapter.

Published by McClelland & Stewart, 360 pages. To buy a copy, click here.

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The Greatest Hockey Stories Ever Told (2004)
Bryant Urstadt, ed.
Available in hardcover and paperback

Tales from db's Tropic of Hockey were selected to be included in The Greatest Hockey Stories Ever Told, an anthology prepared for true fans of the game. If hockey gets your pulse pounding, check this out.

Published by The Lyons Press, 288 pages.

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For Those About to Rock (2004)

db's primer for young'uns thinking about a career in music, For Those About to Rock also offers insights into the early experiences of Rheostatics as they became a truly 'road-worthy' rock band.

Though intended for teens, there is material here to appeal to jaded adults, too.


The book was also translated into Bahasa Indonesia (the proper nomenclature for 'Indonesian') for release in Indonesia -- the world's fourth most populous country -- in 2007. The release of this edition positions db for complete domination of Malay archipelago Indonesey-rock.

Click here to read a sample chapter.

Published by Tundra Books, 144 pages. To buy a copy, click here

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Tropic of Hockey (2001)
Trade paperback

Disillusioned by the commercialization of the game he loved, db set out to find the heart of hockey in unlikely places. Tropic of Hockey documents the search that took him to Romania, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates. The book was also the basis for db's Gemini Award-winning hockey documentary, Hockey Nomad.

Click here to read a sample chapter.

Published by McClelland & Stewart, 312 pages. To buy a copy, click here.

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I Am a Hockey Nomad

Dave Bidini's Gemini Award-winning sports documentary, I Am a Hockey Nomad, is now available for purchase from Canada's favourite online service, Maple Music. The film rates four stars on MSN Movies.

The documentary is based on Dave's best-selling book, Tropic of Hockey, for which Dave travelled the globe in search of hockey magic. Dave's quest takes him far from the corporate branded arenas and millionaire players of professional hockey to lesser-known rinks in Dubai, Transylvania and Mongolia.

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On a Cold Road (1998)
Trade paperback

db's first book, On a Cold Road intersperses tales of the Rheos on tour with interviews of Canadian rock'n'roll stalwarts who trekked the live music frontiers of this frozen country from the '70s through the mid-80s.

Click here to read a sample chapter.

Published by McClelland & Stewart, 288 pages. To buy a copy, click here.

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Other writing

Dave's regular columns
db's got a weekly column, "Games People Play," appearing every Saturday in the National Post.

He's got a monthly column, "Desert Island Poem," in SoundProof, an online music magazine offering locally written music related journalism and photographs from around the world. His first features The Jam! as a lens for suburban New Wave narcissism, his second uses Graham Parker and the Rumour to reflect on the arbirtrary transience of music stardom.

db's got a new column in This Magazine, Canada's "leading alternative magazine of politics, pop culture, and the arts," called "The People's Republic of Dave." The column appears every other week. Click here to read it.

db and his buddy "Pete" have launched Heaven and Hell in the NHL on blogspot. Click here to catch hockey musings.

db wrote a series of music reviews for metro Toronto's Post City magazines.

db penned one of the Rheos' most incendiary songs, "Fan Letter to Michael Jackson," for Introducing Happiness. He had thoughts to share about the controversial superstar on his passing, published in the National Post.

"Maybe it's just as well. Lots of pain suffered. Lots of pain inflicted. With the late King of Pop, that shopworn cliche about finding peace in death is probably one that applies."

To read more, click here. To hear a live version of "Fan Letter" from Darren Cappe's virtual box set, or to see the song performed on Much Music, click here.

The October 2006 issue of Toro magazine featured an article in which db wrote about his recent travels to China. Visit the Travels page for pics and the full-length, unedited piece.

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F. G. Bressani Literary award
db was named the 2006 recipient of the biennial F. G. Bressani Literary Prize by the Vancouver-based Italian Cultural Centre for his contributions to Italo-Canadian letters. Past recipients have included Nino Ricci and Michael Ondaatje.

USA Today "Notable Book"
USA Today named Baseballissimo a Notable Book in 2005. Sports Weekly also teamed with USA Today to publish the first ever collection of Best Baseball Writing 2005, and editor Paul White excerpted Baseballissimo for the inaugural edition. From the Publisher's Weekly review: "Dave Bidini, a 'Canadian rocker,' delights with his account of his time spent following a third-tier Italian baseball team, whose players drink espresso in the dugout, snack on panini spread with grape jelly ('the Italian athlete's equivalent of an energy bar') and play not for money or fame but 'for the joy of play.'"

Gemini Award
I Am a Hockey Nomad, the documentary inspired by Tropic of Hockey, won a Gemini Award for best sports documentary in 2005.

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