The Antagonist has been a bit of a tedious read in my quest to read the CBCs 100 Novels that Make You Proud to be Canadian. The story is written as a series of emails – thankfully they are long emails so that the reader can get enveloped in the story within the text of the email. It is a coming of age story which deals with Gordie, aka “Rank” coming to terms with his younger self when he had the persona as a thug or an enforcer during his days working at his dad’s Icy Dream store and his days playing hockey.
Rank’s college friend had published a book which set him into this rage of emails, feeling that his secrets were being shared. The novel included snippets of their lives together in university and discussed the fact that Rank had lost his mother. The story was told in ways that seemed exaggerated, untrue at times and Rank felt that this definitely was not his story to tell. In an effort to dispute the story, these emails told their own version of a story of a high school thug who was dealing with the impact of a tragic mistake which led to a series of struggles and a difficult relationship with his father.
In the end, the reader understands the difficult trajectory of Rank’s life impacted by the relationship with Gord Senior. When his dad injures himself, he is called home by the same kind social worker that he had seen during his adolescence and who ends up supporting a reconciliation with his father years. I have to admit that I am not a fan of reading a book full of emails and that I struggled to get through this book. I appreciated the overall story but was not keen on the pace. Perhaps some of my struggle was dealing with Rank’s inability to help himself in his younger years.