“the literary equivalent of a sudden death shootout”, The Hockey Writers.
“I hate hockey!” is the first and last sentence in this novel that offers a great take on our love-hate relationship with hockey. 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.
Now available in Canada
Available in the United States: February 2012
“A brisk and often disturbing piece of fiction (…) I Hate Hockey…. is the literary equivalent of a sudden-death shootout – tense, unpredictable, and over before you know it. (….) Readers are kept guessing until the end, but Barcelo plays fair and none will feel cheated when the final secrets are revealed…. only the most puritan of readers won’t crack a smile at some of the Vachon’s more outrageous observations. The book is genuinely funny. (…) I Hate Hockey remains a fast-paced and entertaining read that delivers a satisfying conclusion that will keep readers thinking even after the final page is turned.” Brent Lemon, The Hockey Writers, www.thehockeywriters.com
“A sad and bleak book, riddled with humour both broad and pointed. I found it to be a true satire (vicious at times, as satire must be) of life in contemporary Québec. The picture is that of a profoundly dislocated society that implicitly offers little more than hockey, sexual molestation, social and political desolation, and suicide to its young people. A bitter and courageous book.” Fred A. Reed, writer, international journalist, and award-winning literary translator
“I couldn’t put it down… This was good writing and a riveting story.” Marie White, Quebec Chronicle-Telegraph
“An interesting read… I Hate Hockey twists and turns in all sorts of different directions.” Hockey Blog in Canada
“An excellent short thriller set in sombre surroundings, that also gets you laughing… darkly.” Jessica Émond-Ferrat
“It is about the dark side of teenagers, and how hard it is for a father to find his place in his son’s world. The style is tragic yet comical and you don’t know how it will finish until the very end.” Laetitia Le Cloch.
François Barcelo is author of more than forty novels for adults and younger readers. A past winner of the Governor General’s Award, he was the first Quebecer published in Gallimard’s prestigious Série Noire collection. His novel Cadavres was made into a movie in 2008. I Hate Hockey is his first novel in English.
Peter McCambridge is a professional translator and a serious hockey fan based in Quebec City. He has an MA in Modern Languages from Cambridge University. His MA thesis is on the Montreal Canadiens and popular culture in Quebec.
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