The Georgia Straight on The Man Game

Thanks to Kevin Chong for the article in The Georgia Straight.

The Man Game puts past in play for Lee Henderson

At Stanley Park, the Hollow Tree is braced by two beams and could be mistaken for a giant, primordial tripod. In Lee Henderson’s mind, the long-standing but ailing park attraction appears too small.
Henderson, whose first novel, The Man Game (Penguin, $32), is set in an earlier period of Vancouver’s history, when the park was occupied by squatters, a Native settlement, and a herd of free-range cattle, describes archival photos he’s seen in which people pose with cars and elephants inside the tree. In his novel, he’s set a pivotal scene, in which one character spurns another’s advances, at the local landmark.

“It must have been pretty huge at one time,” says Henderson about the tree, which, he tells me, has shrunken as it’s dried out over the decades. “It’s still pretty towering.”

The Man Game isn’t your typical historical novel, one that tries to conjure a place in the past as accurately and believably as possible. Although thoroughly researched, the book is full of deliberate anachronisms, including its eponymous conceit: a Greco-Roman–style wrestling competition between naked lumberjacks that transfixes the city in its early days. Read the rest of this entry »

Timothy Taylor on The Man Game

Wow, nice, novelist Timothy Taylor wrote this piece for the Globe and Mail


A gritty engagement with the past

Lee Henderson’s debut novel grips our roots – a setting of mud, racism and opium – as if history really matters

Lee Henderson’s first novel, The Man Game, has been released to great reviews. (Full disclosure: I blurbed the book. So I clearly admire it.) Concerning itself with a fictitious type of naked wrestling between loggers, the book may seem at first pass utterly fanciful.

But one of the things that may intrigue Vancouver readers about the book is its enthusiastically gritty engagement with this city’s early history. The fictitious sport is our sport. And it plays out in a carefully detailed historical setting, one of mud, racism, opium and the rampant cutting of first growth.

Last week, I asked Mr. Henderson to walk me through the streets where the novel is set, and we talked about that history and our remaining connection to it. Read the rest of this entry »

Toronto Star Reviews The Man Game

review in the Toronto Star.

Raw and rough and just right

Lee Henderson’s inspired imagining of frontier Vancouver is a loose, baggy monster of a novel that already has him in the running for the big book prizes
Aug 31, 2008 04:30 AM

The Man Gameby Lee Henderson

Penguin Canada,

513 pages, $32

Hooray for The Man Game, and hooray for Lee Henderson.

Henderson is the author of one previous book, The Broken Record Technique, a fine collection of short stories that won the Danuta Gleed literary award in 2003. He’s also got a great-looking website. The Man Game is his first novel, and it’s a terrific debut. Read the rest of this entry »

Winnipeg Free Press Reviews The Man Game

Thanks to Debbie Patterson for the review in the Winnipeg Free Press

Remarkable first novel full of compelling surprises
It’s surprising that a book called The Man Game should have a woman as the central character, bit it’s only the first of many compelling surprises in Vancouver writer Lee Henderson’s remarkable first novel.

The Man Game itself turns out to be an imaginary activity in present-day Vancouver that seems to owe something to Chuck Palahniuk’s Fight Club.

It’s an extreme sport that combines brutal violence and slapstick comedy with elements of ballroom dancing and vaudeville.

Competitors are awarded points for successfully executing moves with names like the “Medical Breakthrough,” “Flipping the Bird” and “The Boxing Chinee.” Spectators crowded into the squalid backyard drink beer, cheer and boo, and bet heavily on the outcome.

Read the rest of this entry »

CBC on The Man Game



Thanks to Greg Buium for an in-depth write-up on The Man Game for the CBC, that includes mention of Superconductor, George Bowering, and Father Zosima Presents…as well as asking me to include 10.5 interesting things I learned while researching the book. And to Luckybuzz for the great comment.