cover image I Hate Hockey

I Hate Hockey

Fran%C3%A7ois Barcelo, trans. from the French by Peter McCambridge. Baraka (IPG, dist.), $14.95 trade paper (104p) ISBN 978-1-926824-13-0

Though this novella was originally published in French in 2011, McCambridge's excellent translation retains the prolific Quebecois author's tight narrative and biting voice in his tragicomic English-language debut. The last thing divorced dad Antoine Vachon wants to do is fill in as a one-night-only substitute coach for his son's hockey team. After all, Vachon hates hockey. But after the original coach is found dead under mysterious circumstances, the president of Quebec's Saint-Z%C3%A9phyrin Sports Association talks him into taking the temporary position. Thus begins a warped 24-hour odyssey during which Vachon barely survives the game, discovers a sinister secret about the dead coach, suspects his son of murder, and briefly reunites with his former wife. A self-acknowledged bigot who slept with his ex's intern (ending his marriage) and contemplates the pros and cons of receiving oral sex from a teenage boy at a motel after the game, Vachon doesn't endear himself to readers, but his constant over-thinking renders him a sympathetic character. Though the gruesome ending isn't as surprising as it was perhaps intended to be, Barcelo's brief and provocative novel is no-doubt powerful. (Feb.)