“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