The Black Bonspiel of Willie MacCrimmon by W.O. Mitchell

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At last, a book about curling, the noble sport that every winter turns otherwise sane Canadian men and women into broom-waving fanatics. Given the chance, any one of them would actively consider selling their soul to the devil for a chance to win the national championship known as “the Brier.”

That’s the offer made to Willie MacCrimmon in this hilarious story by W.O. Mitchell. The time is the not-too-distant past, and the place is Shelby, Alberta, a small town in the foothills. Willie, a widower, is the town’s shoe-maker, but like a good Scot he lives to curl; curling in fact is “his only active religion.” He and his rink are so expert that he attracts the attention of the Devil himself, who comes to Shelby and makes him an offer hard to resist. The Devil (a keen curler–and how they keep good ice in hell is fully explained) promises Willie that he’ll win the Brier–if on his death Willie will undertake to come and curl in hell for him in the Celestial Brier.

Willie makes the Faustian deal – but with the proviso that he will save his soul if he and his Shelby rink can beat the Devil’s rink in a challenge match. And so Willie and his friends – with the help of the Reverend Pringle – take on the Devil’s crew of Judas, Macbeth and Guy Fawkes in the most crucial curling match of all time, a matter of after-life and death.

It's a fine, old-fashioned funny story, as you’d expect from W.O. Mitchell. You might even call it a sweeping saga.

About W.O. Mitchell

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W.O. Mitchell, the only Canadian author recognizable by initials alone, was born in Weyburn, Saskatchewan in 1914. Educated at the University of Manitoba, he lived most of his life in Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Alberta, where for many years he was the most renowned resident in High River. He and his wife, Merna, subsequently moved to Calgary. During a very varied career Bill Mitchell travelled widely and was everything from a Depression hobo to the fiction editor of Maclean’s. A gifted teacher, he was visiting professor at the University of Windsor for several years, and a creative writing instructor at the Banff Centre for many summers.His best-loved book is Who Has Seen the Wind. Since its publication in 1947 it has sold over half a million copies in Canada alone, and is hailed as the greatest Canadian book on boyhood. The classic edition, illustrated by William Kurelek, became a bestseller in 1991. Complementing that book is his 1981 best-seller How I Spent My Summer Holidays, hailed by some critics as his finest novel, although Since Daisy Creek (1984) and Ladybug, Ladybug…(1988), Roses Are Difficult Here (1990), For Art's Sake (1992) and The Black Bonspiel of Willie MacCrimmon (1993), illustrated by Wesley W. Bates, were also well-received best-sellers. Besides The Kite (1962) and The Vanishing Point (1973), he was also noted for his two collections of short stories, Jake and the Kid (1962) and According to Jake and the Kid (1989). Based on the legendary CBC radio Series, both classic story collections won the Stephen Leacock Medal for Humour.His last book, An Evening with W.O. Mitchell, contains his most popular performance pieces, and concludes with “The Poetry of Life”, the lecture that he delivered from a wheelchair to The Writers’ Union Conference in Winnipeg in 1996.A noted performer of his own work, W.O. Mitchell recorded cassette versions of both Who Has Seen the Wind and According to Jake and the Kid, while a selection of pieces from An Evening with W.O. Mitchell, performed by W.O., is also available on cassette.Our novelist and script-writer was also a successful playwright whose five plays are included in the collection entitled Dramatic W.O. Mitchell. He was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 1973, and was an honorary member of the Privy Council. He was the subject of a National Film Board documentary, and in 1994 he was awarded the Writers Guild of Alberta Golden Pen Award for Lifetime Achievement. In 1996 the City of Calgary named its book prize in his honour. He was, in Pierre Berton’s words, “an original.”W.O. Mitchell died in February 1998 at his home in Calgary.
Published October 23, 1993 by McClelland & Stewart. 96 pages
Genres: Young Adult, Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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