Hellgoing, Lynn Coady


“It reminded Kim of her final few years with Malcolm, the monosyllables, the sleep-stink of the bedroom because the bed was never changed, because the bed never didn’t have anyone in it, every day a sort of funeral – we are gathered here to say goodbye to our beloved childhood companion Fun; today we bury Careless Youth, taken from us too soon. It reminded her of the vow she’d made: Never this again.”

Here’s the thing about Lynn Coady.  When she nails it, she really nails it.

I read The Antagonist for Bookstravaganza last year and it was probably my favourite read out of all of the books I read.  It helps that I feel a special sort of Edmonton pride for her, though I’ve unfortunately never gotten the chance to meet her (yet).  I haven’t read the other nominees for this year’s Giller, but this seems like a worthy choice of the win.

Lynn Coady knows exactly what it’s like to be a person in our modern world, and conveys that perfectly in each of the short stories.  For example, the first story’s main character stipulates that “to care a great deal about something, no matter how implicitly interesting it may be, is to come across as a kind of freak.”  Nailed it. I find, especially in my age group, that loving something a great deal and making that your “thing” can lend you a nerdy label.  I’ve been to enough comic expos to know exactly the reactions I get from other people when I tell them I’m going – “isn’t that a thing for really big geeks? You freakin nerd.”  She flawlessly integrates texting into a story in a way I haven’t seen done before.  And her characters grapple with the many facets of sexuality – trying to understand what it is that makes you a successful sexual being in a modern world where the pursuit of pleasure is all or nothing.

Every main character in each of the stories is well-rounded and developed, which can be difficult to achieve in a book of short stories; where there seems to be an overarching theme that life inside your own head is hell, all of the characters hold their own against each other. Nailed it.

I could go into a great deal more about how great this book is, but sleeping is a thing.  So I will conclude with this simple fact.  EVERYONE: you all owe it to yourselves to read this year’s Giller winner.  Seriously.

Books read: 5


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