August 24 , 2007

I Hate Hockey


“I hate hockey!” is the first and last sentence in this novel that offers a great take on our love-hate relationship with sports, be it hockey, football, soccer or baseball. Narrator Antoine Vachon blames the game for killing his marriage with his beautiful ex-wife (well, that and the power outage that brought her home unexpectedly to find him in bed with her intern). But hockey is a pretext for unlikely adventure in this sardonic roman noir that at times flirts with the outrageous. Antoine is a total loser living in a pitiful bachelor apartment after he has lost his wife and his job as a car salesman. When his son’s hockey coach is found dead, he is browbeaten into coaching the team for one night only. He makes it through the game (to great comic effect), but things take a turn for the worse when the team bus stops at a motel after the game. Who killed the former coach and why? Was Antoine’s son involved? Or his ex-wife? The late coach was close to his players, perhaps too close… And why is Antoine unable to communicate with his son? François Barcelo’s humour and brilliant story telling is finally available in English. I Hate Hockey reads quickly, but is meticulously stitched together. Though subtle signposts are present throughout, every development comes as a total surprise.
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