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The Antagonist by Lynn Coady
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The Antagonist (2013)

by Lynn Coady

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1401385,666 (4.02)16
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» See also 16 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
3.5 stars only because this book lost steam in the last 80 pages and sort of petered out instead of ending with a bang consistent with the rest of the novel. The concept for this book was super original and Coady's writing ability takes you from moments of hilarity to moments of profundity oftentimes within the same paragraph. Brilliant concept, great language. Really liked it and definitely worth the read (even with the ending being a little meh). ( )
  Maureen_McCombs | Aug 19, 2016 |
Lynn Coady is the voice inside my head, but far more eloquent. She's those glimpses of truth in life's little situations that disappear just before you see them. She's a phenomenal writer and this is a stellar book. She has a marvelous gift for stringing together the bursts of insight that neatly tie up what you were previously trying to say in no less than 35 minutes of earnest conversation.

"It turned out that if you spent a lot of time inducing the emotion of drunkenness, the emotion of boredom would station itself just around the corner, just on the other side of sobriety, and wait - not to pounce, exactly, boredom wasn't an emotion that pounced - but to sort of collapse against you and hang on, like a girl at a party late at night."

So that's going to be stuck in my head pretty much forever. Gushing aside, this is a great book and you should probably just go read it. ( )
  liso | Sep 18, 2015 |
I really enjoyed this book. I loved the writing style. I think the story moved along more quickly than some of the other reviewers. I had the sense that Rank felt trapped by his size - that it was a liability because of the expectations and prejudices that come with being big. It seems he struggled against his size.

I liked the religious theme that ran through the book - the "randomness" of the gods.

Overall, I thought this was a great read. ( )
  Mimiyoyo | Feb 23, 2015 |
i found this to be an enjoyable read. intense at moments, and quite evocative. i finished reading it also night, so feel i need to think on this some more. the ending didn't come together as strongly for me as i had hoped, so i haven't finished processing how that has affected the whole read for me. i found the people and times relatable -- i was in university at the same time as is portrayed with rank. it was a small university in a tight-knit community. i knew these guys. i knew this bar - though the one i attended was run by hell's angels and called 'the g'. they (the angels) were good enough to tolerate lame-ass university kids thinking they were being tough by going to the biker bar. we were good, after all, for bringing a lot of money into the bar. though we never saw, or even truly knew, the full extent of all the other things going on in an around the g.

anyway.... rambling. i am still pondering this one so will try to remember to come back and get a bit more written up on this one. ( )
  Booktrovert | Jan 6, 2015 |
I don't think I have read any other books by Lynn Coady but if this is an example of her writing I will have to find more. She manages to convincingly write as if she was male. There have been a few books written by men about women that I thought were very well done, such as Clara Callan by Richard Wright, but none of them were written in the first person as far as I recall. This book, which is a series of emails, captures the boneheadedness of young males at university and also the mature indignation of a forty-something man.

Rank has always been big. His father, owner of an ice cream shop, encouraged Rank to use his size to intimidate customers who were causing trouble. Something bad happened although we are not sure what until later in the book. We do know that Rank confessed this to his university friend, Adam, during one drunken debauch because Rank starts writing to Adam to complain that Adam has used the confession in a novel. Over the course of the summer of 2009 Rank continues to email Adam recalling their university days and the event that he divulged. Rank is interrupted for a while because he is called home to care for his father who has fallen and broken his leg. Rank and his father are not what you could call close but the father is enormously proud of Rank. When he learns Rank is writing a book (the excuse Rank gives for spending so many hours in his room on the computer) he keeps suggesting things to be added. Rank is often exasperated by his father but his father seems oblivious. That's a family dynamic that I can relate to.

Rank is really a decent guy but he could have so easily turned out badly. Two people stand out for turning his life around. One was his high school hockey coach and the other was an evangelist who approached him in a bar. Without those interventions his story could have been quite different. And, possibly, Adam should be added to that list because his novel has caused Rank to re-examine his life and come to terms with it. ( )
  gypsysmom | Jul 24, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
This epistolary novel for the Internet Age by Canadian Lynn Coady is emotionally honest and adept at busting open stereotypes while still making good use of them—as all writers must—for a sort of shorthand.
 
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Epigraph
There will be time to murder and create.
—T.S. Eliot
Dedication
First words
There you are in the picture looking chubby and pompous, and it makes me remember how you told me that time you were afraid of fat people.
Quotations
I remember thinking, the gang from Mount Olympus made a lot more sense than the guy I'd been hearing about most of my life up until that point. Who are you going to believe runs the show if you're a citizen of Planet Earth with any kind of awareness was to what's going on around you? are you going to buy into the story about this great guy, who is actually somehow three guys, one-third human, and he loves everybody equally, and all he wants is for everyone to behave themselves? (But, oh yeah, sometimes tsunamis at Christmastime. Sometimes bombs on civilian populations. Sometimes mothers dying horribly.) Or do you believe in this self-absorbed pack of loons who couldn't give a shit what happens on earth but just for fun decide to come down every once in a while to screw with us?
And do you really think your guy's any better, Father? You think you guy isn't just Zeus with better PR?
We men, he told me, we walk around with no idea how fragile our hearts might be.
There he was, the character I knew to be myself, lumbering in and out of scenes, and I'd be outraged when he was like me, because that was stealing, and outraged when he wasn't, because that was lying.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0887842968, Hardcover)

A piercing epistolary novel, The Antagonist explores, with wit and compassion, how the impressions of others shape, pervert, and flummox both our perceptions of ourselves and our very nature.

Gordon Rankin Jr., aka “Rank,” thinks of himself as “King Midas in reverse”—and indeed misfortune seems to follow him at every turn. Against his will and his nature, he has long been considered—given his enormous size and strength—a goon and enforcer by his classmates, by his hockey coaches, and, not least, by his “tiny, angry” father. He gamely lives up to their expectations, until a vicious twist of fate forces him to flee underground. Now pushing forty, he discovers that an old, trusted friend from his college days has published a novel that borrows freely from the traumatic events of Rank’s own life. Outraged by this betrayal and feeling cruelly misrepresented, he bashes out his own version of his story in a barrage of e-mails to the novelist that range from funny to furious to heartbreaking.

With The Antagonist, Lynn Coady demonstrates all of the gifts that have made her one of Canada’s most respected young writers. Here she gives us an astonishing story of sons and fathers and mothers, of the rewards and betrayals of male friendship, and a large-spirited, hilarious, and exhilarating portrait of a man tearing his life apart in order to put himself back together.
 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:36 -0400)

A man of enormous size and strength, Gordon Rankin, Jr., has been plagued with misfortune his entire life, which culminates in an old, trusted college friend publishing a novel that borrows freely from the traumatic events of Rank's own life.

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