Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Antagonist

It seemed fitting, in the context of the NHL lockout to talk about The Antagonist. Firstly, there doesn't seem to be anything more antagonistic than the relationship been the players and league right now and secondly because the main character in the novel is a hockey player.

The Antagonist was a finalist in last year's Giller awards. My love of the Gillers over the years has been pretty well documented on this blog. The have turned me from completely indifferent to CanLit to a huge fan (to the point where I read mostly Canadian writers now).

Anyway...The Antagonist. The story seemed interesting enough. “Rank” a reluctant hockey “enforcer” discovers a trusted college friend has written a novel that is eerily similar to Rank’s deepest darkest confessions to said friend. Rank proceeds to harass his friend through email. Through the correspondence Rank reveals his painful story, alternating between past and present.

I'm always wary of first person narrative. Trying to use correspondence as the vehicle for that narrative is challenging and in my experience rarely done well (We Need to Talk About Kevin being an exception). 

There are a number of themes at play here: the father/son relationship, religion, violence, friendships among boys to name a few. I think that's part of the problem.  Yes, life has all of these things being thrown around all over the place.  However, it's hard to capture the true essence of all of those things in the short span of a novel.  I think the novel would have been much better served to focus on one or two more consistently.

I'm way behind on my Gillers for this year.  Completely missed it.  Don't know what happened but that's what Christmas is for!  Getting caught up on reading.  In front of a fire. With coffee.  Or wine if the time of day is appropriate