978-0-7710-2337-8 / 0771023375

When Hell Freezes Over: Should I Bring My Skates?

by Cranston, Toller

Publisher:McClelland & Stewart



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About the book:

Outrageous on the ice, outrageous off the ice, Olympic bronze medallist Toller Cranston is, not surprisingly, outrageous in his second volume of memoirs, When Hell Freezes Over. His signature flair for skirting the thin ice of life--though not always to his own benefit--makes this a deliciously entertaining read. Cranston tells funny stories, gossipy stories, and insightful stories drawn from the myriad roles he's played on the public stage. He uses his middle-age awareness to look back with perspective on his competitive skating career and his more recent struggles as an artist; to explore the often absurd arena of ice shows; and to ruminate on the toll taken by fame, drugs, casual sex, and living on the edge. In one Cranstonesque encounter, he reports on his lunch with Liberace following a skating exhibition at Rockefeller Center. "As though playing a perverse parlour game," he writes, "I tried to find one patch of Liberace's body that was not unnatural. He wore the most horrifying toupee.... His extensive facial plastic surgery had turned him into a gargoyle with a permanent grimace." He rolls out a marvellous litany of detail, until he screeches to a halt with the realization that Liberace was dying of AIDS, and what he was actually witness to was "heroic, one of (Liberace's) greatest efforts to pull himself together." In the end, it's an anecdote that gracefully skates from funny to sensitive to smart to wistful and wise. So much of the rest of the book does, too. --Jeff Silverman

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