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The Antagonist

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eBook published by Vintage (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group)

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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.
 

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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.
 

Product Details
eBook (304 pages)
Published: January 22, 2013
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Imprint: Vintage
ISBN: 9780307961365
Other books byLynn Coady
  • Strange Heaven

    Strange Heaven
    She’s depressed, they say. Apathetic. Bridget Murphy, almost eighteen, has had it with her zany family. When she is transferred to the psych ward after giving birth and putting her baby up for adoption, it is a welcome relief-- even with the manic ranting of a teen stripper and come-ons of another delusional inmate. But this oasis of relative calm is short-lived. Christmas is coming, and Uncle Albert arrives to whisk her back to the bedlam of home and the booze-soaked social life that got her into trouble in the first place. Her grandmother raves from her bed, banging the wall with a bedpan through a litany of profanities. Her father curses while her mother tries to keep the lid on developmentally delayed Uncle Rollie. The baby’s father wants to sue her, and her friends don’t get that she’s changed.

    Saints of Big Harbour

    Saints of Big Harbour
    A Novel
    "A true grit coming-of-age novel" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer), Saints of Big Harbour is a funny, brutal, and vivid story about small-town life and the inescapable power of gossip. Lynn Coady gives us the unforgettable Guy Boucher, a fatherless teenager and recluse, who finds himself at the center of an ugly rumor. Several versions of truth emerge and collide through Guy's eyes and the stories of those who surround him -- his overbearing uncle, a girl idealized by her town, a quietly wise young woman wrestling with demons of her own, his draft-dodger English teacher, and a pair of golden boys trapped in emotional adolescence as well as Big Harbour itself.

    Mean Boy

    Mean Boy
    Earnest, small-town Lawrence Campbell is fascinated by his poetry professor, the charismatic and uncompromising Jim Arsenault. Larry is determined to escape a life of thrifty drudgery and intellectual poverty working for his parents' motel and mini-golf business on Prince Edward Island. Jim appears to the young poet as a beacon of authenticity - mercurial, endlessly creative, fearless in his confrontations with the forces of conformity. And he drinks a lot. Jim's magnetic personality soon draws Larry's entire poetry composition class into his orbit. Among the other literary acolytes are Sherrie Mitten, with her ringletted blonde hair and guileless blue eyes, the turtlenecked, urbane Claude who writes villanelles, and the champion of rhyming couplets about the heroic struggles of the Maritime proletariat, Todd. Casting a huge shadow over the group is the varsity football player and recreational drug user Chuck Slaughter - titanically strong, capriciously violent, hilariously indifferent to the charms of the poetic life - who has nearly given up terrifying Larry in order to pursue an awkward romantic interest in Sherrie. Drawn by ambition and fascination, the group assembles itself fawningly around Jim, tagging along to bars, showing up at readings, thrilled to be invited to Jim's home, a shambling farmhouse in the woods where he lives with Moira, his shrewish backwoods muse. Lost in adulation, Larry is so delighted to be singled out for Jim's attention that he does not pause to wonder what Jim expects from his increasingly close relationship with the young poet. Closely observed and deeply funny, Mean Boy tells the story of Larry's year-long battle against the indiscriminate use of quotation marks in advertising and his disillusionment as his narcissistic, hard-drinking idol spins out of control and threatens to take the young man's cherished notions about art and poetry down with him. Mean Boy is Lynn Coady's most polished and ambitious work to date.

    Play the Monster Blind

    Play the Monster Blind
    An exhilarating collection of short fiction, Play the Monster Blind showcases the remarkably original voice of Lynn Coady, the award-winning author of Strange Heaven. Funny, poignant and smart, full of unforgettable characters, these stories explore the violence of family, the constraints of small-town life and the elusive promise of escape. In "Ice Cream Man," an adolescent girl struggles to come to terms with her mother's death and her father's seeming indifference while conducting a secret affair with an older man from the local arena. Gerald, the young boy in "Big Dog Rage," goes to extreme and reckless measures to thwart the expectations of his parents, teachers, and the local priest, leaving his childhood friend to look longingly on. And in the title story, Bethany sees her gentle fiancé anew as she enters the raucous world of his hard-drinking family. Receiving a sharp shot to the mouth from her future sister-in-law Bethany finds her place in this clan secured. With her incisive, resonant prose, Lynn Coady elicits laughter, sadness, and compassion. Play the Monster Blind is a keenly observed, imaginative collection from one of the most distinctive talents to arrive on Canada's literary scene in years.

Favorite QuotesFROM THIS BOOK
  • 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.

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  • 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...

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  • And do you really think your guy's any better, Father? You think you guy isn't just Zeus with better PR?

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  • We men, he told me, we walk around with no idea how fragile our hearts might be.

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  • 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...

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  • Your friend, Gordon Rankin.

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