The Guardian (Charlottetown)

When Ken Dryden writes, I buy it

- RICK MACLEAN newsroom@theguardia­ @PEIGuardia­n Rick MacLean is an instructor in the journalism program at Holland College in Charlottet­own.

It’s summer, a time we usually devote to catching our breath, and reading that book we always meant to get at. This year is a strange one, but vanishing into a story is still a great way to reset the overworked brain.

Here are a couple of suggestion­s for summer reading from my own recent wanderings into other people’s stories.

• Scotty: A hockey life like no other by Ken Dryden.

Hockey fell out of my life around the time Guy LaFleur retired and everyone playing in the NHL started wearing helmets and looking the same.

Then Dryden decided to write another hockey book.

Dryden - the six-foot, four-inch tall goaltender of the Montreal Canadians during their last series of glory years – was the hero of every kid playing road hockey in the early 1970s.

“Car!” was the warning cry of a generation of kids who would, grudgingly, make way for cars that interrupte­d the replay of the Stanley Cup finals fought over every day after school for months on streets across the country.

So when Dryden released a new book about his old coach, Scotty Bowman, my credit card leaped.

Scotty was a book he “needed” to write, Dryden said in a note at the start of this delightful piece of work.

“Scotty and I shared a time together – the most important of my hockey life, and one that surely matters to him too. But more than that, Scotty has lived a truly unique life. He has experience­d everything in hockey, up close, for the best part of a century,” Dryden said.

“So on March 26, 2015, at 10:44 a.m., I wrote Scotty an email that said simply, ‘There is something I’d like to talk to you about.’ Six minutes later, at 10:50 a.m. he replied: ‘For sure.’”

The result is magic. But it wasn’t easy.

What do you do when you want to write a book about man who shaped some of the most famous years of your life, and he can’t talk about it? It’s not that he won’t talk about it. It just that looking back isn’t something he’s good at.

Well, if you’re Dryden, you find a way around the problem.

His solution?

He mixed the story of Bowman’s life with a challenge for Scotty: Turn your coach’s eye onto the best teams ever in the NHL, based on their best year, match them up in pretend series of playoffs, and select the team that would come out on top.

Bowman loved it. So will you. And nope, I won’t tell you which team won.

• The Psychopath Whisperer: The science of those without a conscience by Kent Kiehl.

The author wanted to learn about this strange subset of humans, so he enrolled at the University of British Columbia to study under the world’s top expert, Robert Hare.

Then he went to prison. To interview psychopath­s. Fun fact, the most commonly quoted statistic about how many psychopath­s there are suggests about one per cent of the population – one in a hundred – meet the definition. That number zooms up to 15-25 per cent in prison, which is why Kiehl went there. Lots of them to talk to. And they’re easy to find, with lots of time on their hands.

Chances are you know 100 people. So chances are your life has been affected directly by a psychopath. (We’ll skip the indirect influence of people like Donald Trump, who is likely a more complex case than a simple psychopath.)

Kiehl, a jovial fellow in his book – likely a good way to compensate for the dark nature of his work – now uses a brain scanner to watch the minds of psychopath­s at work. Yup, they’re not like you.

Well, unless you’re that one in a hundred.

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