I read Lynn Coady’s “The Antagonist” in a span of two days and it isn’t hard to tell why it’s generating so much buzz. It’s currently nominated for the upcoming Giller Prize, a prize which will be awarded on Tuesday November 8th.
The second I started reading this book, I was intrigued. Gordon “Rank” Rankin is shocked and hurt to find out that his college roommate, Adam, has used the life hurdles Rank has had to overcome to create a novel. After discovering that the friend he confided in has violated his past, he decides to write him a series of emails explaining his disappointment and anger, but more importantly to set the record straight and explain to Adam that he got the story all wrong. These emails to Adam are the basis of the novel. We travel back with Rank to a time when his world was turned upside down after his Mother had passed and he was left with his crazy Father, Gord.
Rank is a big man and his statue immediately intimidates others and ultimately it’s what continued to get him into trouble with the law. We’re first introduced to Rank at the age of 40 and for the past 20 years he has been attempting to escape the mistakes he once created. Now that Adam has exposed his misgivings, Rank is automatically thrown right back into the past he’s trying to escape.
The whole idea of this little project, you’ll recall, was to ferret out the truth. To take your bullshit version of me, flush it like the steaming turd of half-truths and oversights it was, and replace it with the glorious, terrible, complex, astonishing truth of Reality.
As Rank states, the emails become a project and it’s a journey for both Rank and the reader. Like Lynn Coady’s past entrancing novels, you’ll be whisked into a story that leaves you feeling every ounce of pain Rank’s ever experienced and you’ll want to point the finger at Adam for ever stealing a life story that was never his to tell.
My thanks to Trish from House of Anansi for hooking me up with this fabulous novel.