On a Personal Note

A look at boyhood, a guide to goodness, and sports-based parenting

Boy Wonders: A Memoir

Cathal Kelly

As a fluent and artfully plain-speaking sports columnist for the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail, Cathal Kelly has attracted readers who aren’t instinctively drawn to the swings and misses of his subject matter. He stands apart from the inbred culture of professionalized athleticism with an aloofness that feels intellectual, and his resistance to fanboyism is dependably idea-driven and contrarian.

The dailiness of sports coverage sometimes makes even the unique aspects of Kelly’s writing feel a bit predictable and pat, so it’s intriguing to see what he gets up to in this pleasing memoir of a reckless, wisdom-inducing Toronto boyhood that, no surprise, makes few concessions to sports nerds. He is no Batman, more a second-banana spectator of rough-and-ready working-class ordinariness who belatedly acquires the scribe’s heightened sense of ephemeral...