Sunday, October 16, 2011

THE ANTAGONIST by Lynn Coady (2011) House of Anansi Press, 337 pages

"There will be time to murder and create." ~T.S. Eliot

Any writer who has the balls to begin their narrative with a T.S. Eliot reference has my attention. Unsurprisingly, Lynn Coady's protagonist Gordon "Rank" Rankin is a scrapper by nature and avocation when he's on the ice, a hockey enforcer, a beloved goon. Just like his old man, Gordon Senior, he's quick to flare. Until tragedy swipes by, that is, and makes a meal of Rank. It changes everything as Rank tries to disappear from university life and the hope of his east coast town.

Twenty years later Rank discovers that Adam, one of his closest university friends, has used the details of Rank's life to write a novel and THE ANTAGONIST forms Rank's impassioned response to that book in a series of emails in which he deconstructs their shared past as well as comes to terms with the sadness in his own.

Rank's voice is confident, clear and convincingly male. And, by the time you've made his journey with him, peering pruriently over his shoulder, you'll understand his apparently paradoxical apology/accusation at the end:

"And thank you for not putting it in your book.
And fuck you for not putting it in your book.
Your friend,
Gordon Rankin

Lynn Coady is a real talent, one whose words I'll be watching for eagerly.

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