Saturday, March 23, 2013

What You're Not Reading, Day 2

Gianna: How are you?
Liz: Okay, but I'm on my Friday conference call.
Gianna: Any chance you can meet for lunch?
Liz: Can't. Visiting stores. Everything okay?
Gianna: Yeah, I'm working on blog ideas. Will send you an email a little later.

And then the next thing I know, Gianna is saying that we're going to be posting something every day for, like, 100 days in a row. She doesn't understand that it's March Madness and I need to watch obscene amounts of basketball (Zorro the cat is currently winning my bracket pool, by the way). She doesn't seem to remember that baseball season starts in a week. Also, she has forgotten that she was the one complaining about a 30 day book challenge.



In the spirit of Gianna's decision to co-opt my life for a third of the year (at least), I'm picking The Antagonist by Lynn Coady as today's book that you aren't reading but definitely should.

Here's the premise: Gordon Rankin Jr, or "Rank" as he's known, is 40, grumpy, and wondering what's happened to his life. And then he discovers that a college friend has published a novel. Then he reads the novel and discovers that the based on Rank's life. He's pissed off; his life has been stolen from him (sound familiar, Gianna?), and he's not afraid to write the author, his former friend, to tell him exactly what he thinks. Thus begins Lynn Coady's big, funny, smart, compassionate book. The book is written as a series of Rank's email messages--many fueled by alcohol--expressing his hurt and outrage, and also Rank's version of his life.

Dear Lynn Coady,
I think we could be pals.
I love your book.
Do you like cats?
Rank was adopted, and so while his father, a royal pain in the ass and general failure, is a tiny, banty rooster of a guy, Gordon Rankin Jr. is a boy giant. While Gordon Sr. is the guy who throws kids out of the parking lot of his food stand, Rank is becoming an ace hockey player and Gordon Sr. apologist. It's a complex relationship, and Rank believes his life is "King Midas in reverse;" everything he touches turns to shit. Things happen (I don't want to spoil everything). Thus, it's not completely a surprise when he discovers that one of his best friends in college decides to steal his life for a novel, and it's not really a surprise that he's angry.

Discovering new books is one of the best parts of working in Book Land. The best emails and phone calls I receive start with things like "Have you read ________ yet?" or "You have to read _________." The Antagonist is one of those books. It's a book that my fellow book nerds couldn't shut up about. It's really that good. And in case you think we're wrong (and we're never wrong), The Antagonist was nominated for the Giller Prize (Canada's Pulitzer) and genius book critic Ron Charles of the Washington Post wrote this delightful, perfect review of the book.

Oh yeah, and Lynn Coady is a Canadian. I love my Canadians.

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