It isn’t every day that a single novel can make you laugh, cry, scream, sigh and berate the characters, but Lynn Coady has a gift. Her most recent novel – The Antagonist – is a perfect example of a story that will force you to stop, think and throw your own life under the microscope.
Coady’s newest novel was the first I picked off a teetering stack when I started my new position at THIN AIR. It was initially the title that drew me in. The Antagonist. That can’t be good. I turned to the back cover and read what the novel was actually about, and here’s what it says:
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.
Who wouldn’t be interested by that? Deciding I simply had to read Coady’s novel first, I turned on a light, flipped to the first page and was immersed in Rank’s world by the end of the first chapter. There is something in The Antagonist that I believe everyone can relate to, and Coady’s writing style is both quirky and engaging.
In case you don’t know much about her, Coady’s literary success with The Antagonist is no surprise. She has previously written four novels and numerous anthologies. Her first novel – Strange Heaven – was published when she was 28 years old and went on to be nominated for the Governor General’s Award.
Even if she’s not busy working on a new novel, Coady is always writing. She writes for The Globe and Mail’s Group Therapy column, where she delivers the final word on relationships problems. Coady also maintains her own personal blog, which is both energetically written and hilarious.
If you’re interested in checking out her column, click here.
If you’re interested in Coady’s blog, click here.
Look for The Antagonist in bookstores in the fall – published by House of Anansi – and be sure to visit Coady at THIN AIR 2011!