Thoughts on “Thunder and Lightning”

When I was a kid, there were a couple of books in some library near me about hockey. I remember clearly that one of them was “Goaltender” by Gerry Cheevers, and I remember reading another one that I think was about the Philadelphia Flyers. I really enjoyed them as a kid, and recently started thinking that getting those books or books like them would be good. I had managed to get one by James Duthie that was interesting, and read “The Game” by Ken Dryden, but neither of those were quite the same, and when I browsed in bookstores I couldn’t really find anything that seemed interesting. But then I decided to browse on Amazon and despite my noted issues with browsing on Amazon managed to find a couple that seemed interesting. This is the first of those, a retrospective by Phil Esposito called “Thunder and Lightning”.

The thing about this book for me is that I recall the previous books talked more and in more detail about the games, especially the big ones, which was a lot of fun, along with a lot of details over what happened in-between the games, including the jokes and pranks and various things that go on there. The mix of the games and the out-of-game moments really worked for me, because I liked the descriptions of the games and the ebb-and-flow, and that left room for the out-of-game stories which were usually interesting but since they were about people and events that I wasn’t that familiar with would probably seem boring if the entire book was nothing but them. “Thunder and Lightning” has these things, but is much less detailed that I recall the other books being, especially about how the games went. And even the stories seem less detailed, more reminisces that happened to come to him than something worked out in detail.

This makes the book a little disjoint and disorganized. Yes, it is roughly in chronological order, but it doesn’t come across as a book where he moves easily from year-to-year and talks about what happened, even though he, again, roughly does that. As noted above, it comes across as him talking about what he happened to think of when thinking about those times, with maybe a prompting at times to talk about the really, really big things. So it does come across more like someone reminiscing about their past than as an organized biography.

Which makes sense, because the big impression I got from the book is that this is less Esposito telling his own story and more him trying to set the record straight, telling people things that he thinks they need to know or that they always get wrong about him and his career. This comes across most clearly when he talks about his time as the GM in Tampa Bay where he tries to correct the impression that he was some kind of mad trader, and also where he talks about how he was, at least to him, kinda screwed over by Tampa Bay and by the ownership. Those sorts of events, even back to his hockey days, are the ones given the most detail and usually the most time. Overall in the book, they are the minority, but they do seem to get the most “love”.

But that’s okay, because they’re interesting. The book is subtitled “A No B.S. Hockey Memoir” and Esposito is pretty honest about his career and his own failings, including in his personal life and with his two divorces, and even when setting the record straight he easily admits his own mistakes in that regard. So while it doesn’t quite have the detail that I was looking for in a hockey memoir, it is an entertaining read because of that. I will likely read this book again.

One Response to “Thoughts on “Thunder and Lightning””

  1. Thoughts on “Orr: My Story” | The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] pages at Amazon and were available — for me to pick up Bobby Orr’s biography after after Phil Esposito’s. Obviously, the two of them were on the same team for quite a while and shared some memorable runs. […]

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