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Our Life With The Rocket The Maurice Richard Story [Hardcover]

Roch Carrier
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Oct. 11 2001
Maurice Richard, the Rocket, was the greatest hockey player of his era and remains an enduring icon of hockey excellence and passion for the game. He was an electrifying player to watch: an aggressive, powerful but surprisingly agile skater who could put the puck in the net even with a lumbering defenseman dragging him down. His electric gaze chilled goaltenders, and his intensity sobered opponents and teammates alike. He was, without argument, one of hockey's most fascinating and talented players, and he continues to hold almost mythic stature in the sport.

But can the Rocket's athletic ability really explain the passion he inspired? Quebec fans revered him: They followed his accomplishments with tenacity; they taped pictures of Richard and his family to their kitchen walls, to their shop windows and to their store cash registers; and they memorized his statistics, his history and the names of his children. His season suspension in March 1955, after an on-ice brawl, ignited the infamous Richard Riots in Montreal, riots that some Canadian historians have suggested were a noisy precursor to Quebec's Quiet Revolution.

In this lyrical and beautifully wrought narrative, Carrier evokes the thrill of watching or listening to the Rocket and his teammates play, the joy and agony of the Canadiens' rivalry with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the struggle of daily life that formed the backdrop for Maurice Richard's spectacular accomplishments. Our Life with the Rocket also follows the history of a young boy, Roch himself, whose youthful worship of Richard was tempered by politics and personal life and evolved into an entirely different sort of appreciation for an extraordinary man.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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"Hockey is a violent jungle," writes Roch Carrier in his portrait of hockey legend Maurice "the Rocket" Richard. Indeed, few sports combine grace and brutality the way ice hockey does. And Rocket Richard was the ferocious king of that jungle during his illustrious career with the Montreal Canadiens (1942-60). He intimidated opponents with both extraordinary skills and never-say-die determination. But he was more than just a hockey star. During his long skate as the lynchpin of the Canadiens, this shy and somewhat inarticulate young Quebecois also became a focal point of a burgeoning French-Canadian nationalism, a symbol of their struggle. That was demonstrated beyond doubt in 1955, when the much-reviled President of the NHL, Clarence Campbell suspended the Rocket. The fury of his fans sparked a full-blown riot on Montreal streets. Hard to imagine that happening over a Wayne Gretzky or Vince Carter suspension, isn't it?

Carrier's highly detailed descriptions of the social and political milieu of the time give this work a depth and resonance beyond most sports books. Attempts to probe the psyche of the very private Richard, however, are rather more problematic. At one point, the author writes, "he keeps all his discontent behind his silence, which is closed as tightly as a safe," and his attempts to open that safe aren't always successful. Still, the writing makes up for such shortcomings. Carrier is something of a Canadian legend himself as author of the much-loved children's story The Hockey Sweater. His sentences are short and to the point, like a good hockey pass, with a fluid poetry that matches the grace of a Rocket end-to-end rush: "His eyes are two black bullets that are silently shot at his opponents." As a hockey-playing youngster, Carrier revered Maurice Richard. In Our Life with the Rocket, he does the man true justice. --Kerry Doole

About the Author

Roch Carrier is the author of such celebrated works of fiction as La Guerre, Yes Sir!, The Hockey Sweater, Heartbreaks Along the Road, The Man in the Closet, The End and Prayers of a Very Wise Child, which won the Stephen Leacock Award for Humour in 1991.

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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover
I actually bought this book in Canada in paperback form, and I am seriously impressed with Roch Carrier's storytelling ability. Having only read The Hockey Sweater, I expected a fantastic story in this book, and it does not disappoint. In Our Life with the Rocket, Carrier writes a biography of Maurice "The Rocket" Richard, one of the greatest hockey players of the last century, or some would say ever, by placing this French-Canadian hero in the context of the province's history. Carrier describes the poverty and hopelessness of the Great Depression in Quebec with vivid detail, telling how young Maurice would run errands for neighbors to earn cash when he wasn't playing street hockey. The hard work Richard put into developing as a hockey player and his career in the NHL, including the famous Richard Riots of the 1954 season, are told with great care. The connection between the Rocket and his legions of Quebecois fans, young and old, is evident. Carrier himself interjects memories of growing up in Quebec worshipping the Rocket, stopping short of completely retelling the autobiographical story related in The Hockey Sweater. He tells how Richard continued to mean a great deal to him as an adult. If the adult reader is a fan of the story of The Hockey Sweater, this book is a perfect companion to it, more fully explaining the significance of Maurice Richard to young French Canadian boys in a time when Quebec had little else to cheer about. I am seriously considering using this in a course I teach.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Dec 14 2011
Format:Paperback
Well, I got half way thru this book and I found myself somewhat disappointed. It started out well enough, and Carrier is a fine writer. But he seems to be following every season individually and chronologically ... and its all the same, and more of the same. Richard broods and attacks his opponents. Carrier throws in the odd factoid or anecdote to validate the section. Life is not fair for the Québécois. They are a little people, but live big through Richard. He must win! Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't. Damn the English hockey opponents (Toronto) and the factory bosses and team owners and Campbell. Repeat the same narrative season after season. And the few interesting sociological observations are framed thru the eyes of the young Carrier, so they don't really pack much of a punch anyways. Like I said, I was pretty disappointed, and put the book down. It would have made a great long "short story" or novella. What a shame ... (I grew up in Montréal with the Habs of the 1970s, the Stanley Cup was our inheritance.)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  2 reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Biography of the Rocket, social history of Quebec in one March 7 2003
By Catriona Anderson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I actually bought this book in Canada in paperback form, and I am seriously impressed with Roch Carrier's storytelling ability. Having only read The Hockey Sweater, I expected a fantastic story in this book, and it does not disappoint. In Our Life with the Rocket, Carrier writes a biography of Maurice "The Rocket" Richard, one of the greatest hockey players of the last century, or some would say ever, by placing this French-Canadian hero in the context of the province's history. Carrier describes the poverty and hopelessness of the Great Depression in Quebec with vivid detail, telling how young Maurice would run errands for neighbors to earn cash when he wasn't playing street hockey. The hard work Richard put into developing as a hockey player and his career in the NHL, including the famous Richard Riots of the 1954 season, are told with great care. The connection between the Rocket and his legions of Quebecois fans, young and old, is evident. Carrier himself interjects memories of growing up in Quebec worshipping the Rocket, stopping short of completely retelling the autobiographical story related in The Hockey Sweater. He tells how Richard continued to mean a great deal to him as an adult. If the adult reader is a fan of the story of The Hockey Sweater, this book is a perfect companion to it, more fully explaining the significance of Maurice Richard to young French Canadian boys in a time when Quebec had little else to cheer about. I am seriously considering using this in a course I teach.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing Feb. 1 2012
By John Mundie - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Well, I got half way thru this book and I found myself somewhat disappointed. It started out well enough, and Carrier is a fine writer. But he seems to be following every season individually and chronologically ... and its all the same, and more of the same. Richard broods and attacks his opponents. Carrier throws in the odd factoid or anecdote to validate the section. Life is not fair for the Québécois. They are a little people, but live big through Richard. He must win! Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn't. Damn the English hockey opponents (Toronto) and the factory bosses and team owners and Campbell. Repeat the same narrative season after season. And the few interesting sociological observations are framed thru the eyes of the young Carrier, so they don't really pack much of a punch anyways. Like I said, I was pretty disappointed, and put the book down. It would have made a great long "short story" or novella. What a shame ... (I grew up in Montréal with the Habs of the 1970s, the Stanley Cup was our inheritance.)
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