Four star review, originally posted here on October 4, 2019.
Okay, look, this little book isn’t going to go winning any Pulitzers. Not exactly a monument of literary achievement. But for what it is, it is absolutely fantastic. For those who don’t know, Steve Dangle (real name Steve Glynn) is a hockey commentator, best know for the hilariously exuberant ranting YouTube videos that he shoots in his basement after every single Toronto Maple Leafs game. At a mere 30 years of age and only a few years in the (arguably narrow) spotlight, one might think Dangle/Glynn is too young and early in his career and life to go publishing a memoir. I saw another reviewer say this, and I kind of assumed I would feel the same way, but my spouse (a huge Dangle fan who never misses a Dangle podcast or video and went to a ) assured me I would love it despite only having a passing knowledge of Dangle/Glynn’s work. He was correct.
It’s not that Dangle’s story thus far is particularly compelling. He’s a dude who wanted to go into sport media, so he got a media degree, did sports media internships, did his own just-for-fun sports media side projects, and in the meantime had a seemingly unrelated summer job (where he had to speak in front of a crowd all day, so turns out its tangentially related after all). The whole process until he becomes famous and successful is probably like 5 or 6 years. From a distance, and in the grand scheme of things, no big whoop.
But the truth is that, for many, many, many people, those early years of trying to figure out what to do with your life and struggling to find your way, of hitting roadblocks and doubts and making no money and seeing other people succeed and wondering why they have all the luck and WTF is wrong with me it has been YEARS and I just can’t seem to catch a break and by the way bills and living expenses don’t wait for you to find your footing in a solid career before weighing you down, etc…
I got lost in there. Point is, that time in our lives is SCARY. And its OVERWHELMING. And every day that you don’t have a job feels like an eternity. Every slammed door feels like a gigantic failure. And it is really, really, really easy to get frustrated. Dangle/Glynn is in a unique position where he both struggled to take off, but also skyrocketed to fame at a relatively young age. It means he can take us deep into this time that’s often glossed over, while still offering hope and a light at the end of the tunnel. He ends his book by encouraging people to follow their dreams and take on new challenges, etc, which is a message we may hear a lot, but somehow, from this guy, it rings sincere (this sincerity is key in Dangle/Glynn’s popularity).
This book hit a nerve with me because I am going through a very similar situation in my life right now. And because I know plenty of people going through these same frustrations, I think it will resonate well with many, many readers. Which is great. Dangle/Glynn is a fantastic role model, but because he’s some sort of untouchable superstar who we, the common man, could never emulate, but because he’s a regular dude, just like us, who makes mistakes, struggles with depression, and learns plenty of life lessons. A regular dude who’s gotten to do a lot of amazing things. Along the way you’ll hear plenty of crazy fun stories, told in an approachable, conversational manner, like listening to your buddy over a beer.
I would caution that at time this book may be less engaging to non-hockey fans because he drops a LOT of hockey names (players, coaches, and broadcasters), talks about game details from his childhood memories, and refers to Canadian hockey media. For the most part he does a good job either providing enough context or explanation that the lay reader can piece things together, but towards the end when we start referring back to an entire book’s worth of people and places, things get a little bogged down with references I didn’t understand. I’m a hockey fan, but mostly just follow my home team (GO CAPS!!!!), so I was pretty into most of the hockey content except for the name dropping.
But still, even if you totally glaze over at all the hockey stuff, there’s plenty of other content here to engage. Dangle/Glenn’s recurring affection and respect for his sister, mom, and wife was particularly refreshing in the male-dominated world of hockey media. And in the end, that’s the very greatest thing about Dangle/Glynn, and why my spouse is such a super fan- even though he’s really just some dude who loves to sit around his basement yelling about hockey scores into his webcam, he also encourages his fans to be better people. Which is pretty damn cool.