The Antagonist

The Antagonist

Book - 2011
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Winner of the 2012 Georges Bugnet Award for Fiction and shortlisted for the 2011 Scotiabank Giller Prize.

Against his will and his nature, the hulking Gordon Rankin ("Rank") is cast as an enforcer, a goon -- by his classmates, his hockey coaches, and especially his own "tiny, angry" father, Gordon Senior.

Rank gamely lives up to his role -- until tragedy strikes, using Rank as its blunt instrument. Escaping the only way he can, Rank disappears. But almost twenty years later he discovers that an old, trusted friend -- the only person to whom he has ever confessed his sins -- has published a novel mirroring Rank's life. The betrayal cuts to the deepest heart of him, and Rank will finally have to confront the tragic true story from which he's spent his whole life running away.

With the deep compassion, deft touch, and irreverent humour that have made her one of Canada's best-loved novelists, Lynn Coady delves deeply into the ways we sanction and stoke male violence, giving us a large-hearted, often hilarious portrait of a man tearing himself apart in order to put himself back together.

Publisher: Toronto : House of Anansi Press, c2011
ISBN: 9780887842962
Branch Call Number: FIC COA
Characteristics: 337 p. ; 21 cm


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Apr 01, 2015

This book contains a single characters collection of emails telling his life story to a college friend. You only ever get one point of view on the events that unfold from his childhood to where he is now as an adult.

I found this a very absorbing book. I was always curious about what would happen next and why our character was so angry about everything. The entire story has this feeling of leading up to a big moment that changed his life and I’m not sure that the suspense was rewarded in the end.

Mar 29, 2014

The voice of the protagonist rings so true I can almost feel his sweaty presence. The author handles him with wonderful sensitivity and care, growing him from cornered animal to graceful maturity. A beautiful, insightful read. Loved it!

jkeefe12 Jun 28, 2013

I picked this book on a whim and enjoyed the tale. The story and character evolve in an interesting way. A very good read.

Oct 11, 2012

Written by a female Canadian it's about a guy writing a letter to an old and ex friend trying to explain himself and why he was the kind of person he was. It's full of guy talk and male perspectives and teenage boys bullshitiing each other. She has really captured the male ego. I enjoyed the book and especially her take on the"growing up" of a male kid. I don't know how she captured the male perspective so accurately. Did she have a dozen brothers?

Aug 06, 2012

Hats off to Lynn Coady for expressing the male psyche so beautifully. A terrific book that lays bare how friendships form in one's teens and 20s, and evolve (or dissolve, as it were) as life moves on.

May 01, 2012

A really clever, really readable and really good novel about writing and men and male relationships and society's expectations of men, especially "big men". Is there any female writer better than Coady at expressing the inner workings of the male mind? This novel is completely deserving of the kudos it has received.

Apr 11, 2012

A sassy yet inspirational yarn about a knitting group working on a wool banner for a hockey championship. Using a Rashomon-perspective, Coady digs into the group, until finally uncovering the secret that threatens to tear the banner apart....I think

technojoy Oct 04, 2011

This may displace Strange Heaven as my favourite book by Lynn Coady. It's the kind of book that draws you into its world so that, on emerging, you're a bit disoriented, wanting to go back. Very well written, displaying the gift for characterization that is Coady's hallmark.

Cdnbookworm Sep 21, 2011

This book is told in a series of emails from one man to another. Gordon Rankin (Rank) is nearly 40 and is led to begin these emails by coming across a book written by a man who he considered his closest friend 20 years earlier. Rank feels the book betrays that friendship, exposing Rank's inner thoughts and yet still portraying him as a caricature.
Rank is a big man and beginning with his father has been cast in a role that he doesn't want. The role is enforcer, bouncer, goon. His father, his university hockey coach, his friends, all consider him as a man who is defined by his size and not what goes on inside his head.
He is haunted by a dual tragedy that occurred when he was a young man and has lived his life in fear of such a tragedy occurring again.
This is a book to shake you out of your assumptions, to open your eyes to how we see each other. Particularly in light of recent tragedies related to those hockey players defined as enforcers, this is a book for the times. The novel shows insight, character growth, and shows our society in a new light. A wonderful read that I could barely put down.

Sep 21, 2011

I started off really enjoying this book, but now, in the middle of it all, I'm getting a little bored by the endless ruminations of the main character and the dancing around the issues in his life which brought him to this place. Also, some of the characters seem a little one-sided and wooden to me. There seems to be zero redeeming value in the father and nothing to possibly criticize in the mother and that leads me to wonder why they got together in the first place? Did neither of them have other qualities which drew them to each other?

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