22 July 2021

Dustiest Bookcase: Q is for Quarrington


Short pieces on books I've always meant to review (but haven't).

The Service
Paul Quarrington
Toronto: Coach House, 1978
182 pages

On October 15, 1996, I shared a late night dinner with Paul Quarrington and Dave Badini at Suiki Japanese Restaurant on West Broadway in Vancouver. Earlier in the evening, at the 8th annual Vancouver International Writers Festival, both had read from Original Six (Toronto: Reed Books Canada, 1996), a collection of short stories inspired by teams from the NHL's golden age. Quarrington served as anthologist. Badini provided a story about the Chicago Blackhawks. Other contributors included Wayne Johnson (Montreal Canadiens), Judith Fitzgerald (Detroit Red Wings), Trent Frayne (Toronto Maple Leafs), and Jeff Z. Klein (New York Rangers). Quarrington himself wrote the Bruins story.

I didn't say much during our dinner; Paul and Dave were pals and collaborators, and I was happy to listen in.

Over dessert, I asked Paul if he'd do me the honour of signing my copy of The Service, his debut novel. As I remember it, he was surprised when I pushed it across the table. This is his inscription:

At the time, Random House seemed in the process of reissuing every Quarrington novel there was, yet it never returned The Service to print. I wonder why.

Paul and Dave had good fun that night.

Paul had been doing double duty at the festival, promoting Original Six and Fishing with My Old Man (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 1996), an account of a trip with North American Casting Champion Gordon Deval. This signature never fails to raise a smile:

We ate a lot of sushi that night.

Douglas & McIntyre paid our bill.

Paul died eleven years ago at age 56, a victim of lung cancer.

Today would've been his sixty-eight birthday.

He is very much missed

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