The Antagonist

Coady, Lynn, 1970-

Book - 2013
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
The Antagonist
Random House, Inc.

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.

Baker & Taylor
Mistaken for a goon because of his large size and strength, gentle Gordon Rankin, Jr. struggles to live up to everyone's expectations until a cruel twist of fate forces him underground, where he learns that a former friend has written a satirical book based on his life. By the award-winning author of The Antagonist.

& Taylor

Mistaken for a goon because of his large size and strength, gentle Gordon Rankin, Jr., struggles to live up to everyone's expectations until a cruel twist of fate forces him underground, where he learns that a former friend has written a satirical book based on his life.

Publisher: New York : Alfred A. Knopf, 2013
Edition: 1st U.S. ed
ISBN: 9780307961358
Branch Call Number: FIC C
Characteristics: 285 p. ; 25 cm.


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Apr 01, 2015
  • Eosos rated this: 3 stars out of 5.

This book contains a single characters collection of emails telling his life story to a college friend. You only ever get one point of view on the events that unfold from his childhood to where he is now as an adult.

I found this a very absorbing book. I was always curious about what would happen next and why our character was so angry about everything. The entire story has this feeling of leading up to a big moment that changed his life and I’m not sure that the suspense was rewarded in the end.

Mar 29, 2014
  • LaRoyal rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

The voice of the protagonist rings so true I can almost feel his sweaty presence. The author handles him with wonderful sensitivity and care, growing him from cornered animal to graceful maturity. A beautiful, insightful read. Loved it!

Jun 28, 2013
  • jkeefe12 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I picked this book on a whim and enjoyed the tale. The story and character evolve in an interesting way. A very good read.

Oct 11, 2012

Written by a female Canadian it's about a guy writing a letter to an old and ex friend trying to explain himself and why he was the kind of person he was. It's full of guy talk and male perspectives and teenage boys bullshitiing each other. She has really captured the male ego. I enjoyed the book and especially her take on the"growing up" of a male kid. I don't know how she captured the male perspective so accurately. Did she have a dozen brothers?

Aug 06, 2012
  • halgeon rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Hats off to Lynn Coady for expressing the male psyche so beautifully. A terrific book that lays bare how friendships form in one's teens and 20s, and evolve (or dissolve, as it were) as life moves on.

May 01, 2012
  • Libarbarian rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A really clever, really readable and really good novel about writing and men and male relationships and society's expectations of men, especially "big men". Is there any female writer better than Coady at expressing the inner workings of the male mind? This novel is completely deserving of the kudos it has received.

Apr 11, 2012
  • Ktownmessiah rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

A sassy yet inspirational yarn about a knitting group working on a wool banner for a hockey championship. Using a Rashomon-perspective, Coady digs into the group, until finally uncovering the secret that threatens to tear the banner apart....I think

Oct 04, 2011

This may displace Strange Heaven as my favourite book by Lynn Coady. It's the kind of book that draws you into its world so that, on emerging, you're a bit disoriented, wanting to go back. Very well written, displaying the gift for characterization that is Coady's hallmark.

Sep 21, 2011
  • Cdnbookworm rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This book is told in a series of emails from one man to another. Gordon Rankin (Rank) is nearly 40 and is led to begin these emails by coming across a book written by a man who he considered his closest friend 20 years earlier. Rank feels the book betrays that friendship, exposing Rank's inner thoughts and yet still portraying him as a caricature.
Rank is a big man and beginning with his father has been cast in a role that he doesn't want. The role is enforcer, bouncer, goon. His father, his university hockey coach, his friends, all consider him as a man who is defined by his size and not what goes on inside his head.
He is haunted by a dual tragedy that occurred when he was a young man and has lived his life in fear of such a tragedy occurring again.
This is a book to shake you out of your assumptions, to open your eyes to how we see each other. Particularly in light of recent tragedies related to those hockey players defined as enforcers, this is a book for the times. The novel shows insight, character growth, and shows our society in a new light. A wonderful read that I could barely put down.

Sep 21, 2011
  • ownedbydoxies rated this: 2.5 stars out of 5.

I started off really enjoying this book, but now, in the middle of it all, I'm getting a little bored by the endless ruminations of the main character and the dancing around the issues in his life which brought him to this place. Also, some of the characters seem a little one-sided and wooden to me. There seems to be zero redeeming value in the father and nothing to possibly criticize in the mother and that leads me to wonder why they got together in the first place? Did neither of them have other qualities which drew them to each other?

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