I Blog

The National Post asked me to write four guest posts for the weekend edition of their blog Ampersand, so I wrote about the recession, Roberto Bolano (forgetting to mention Nazi Literature in the Americas), pop culture droppings, and Alabama rap music.

Bookninja Qs The Man Game

Huge thanks to Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer for the Bookninja interview. As always, the link’s there to the original interview, and I’ve copy-pasted it below for the ol’ MG archive.



The Man Game: Lee Henderson Interview 
by Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer

Lee Henderson’s debut novel, The Man Game, is a romp and a face-off in olde Vancouver. There is racism, there is opium, there are pretty entrepreneurs, a paraplegic (train stunt), saloons, brothels, and, yes, lumberjacks. There are fist-fights, bravado and dance routines; there is (discretion is advised here) a great deal of nudity. There is, in short, nothing like The Man Game. Your Fall book season will truly be incomplete without having read it.

Award winning author Lee Henderson and Bookninja’s Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer wrestled into the book and around it in this interview. Please enjoy.

* * *

Kathryn Kuitenbrouwer: I read The Man Game manically, over a few days. And these were my gut responses as I read: What the? Wha-? Is Lee Henderson mad? Where did this all come from?

So, I guess: What the? Wha-? Are you mad? Where did this book come from?

Lee Henderson: The culture of woodsmen, day labourers, stevedores, fisherman, and miners in the 1800s was rough. To write convincingly about that pioneering scene, I wanted to use language that was good for readers today. So I dialed my ear to those voices in contemporary Vancouver — listening to the guys argue and fight on the scaffolding as they reclad the leaky condo I was renting, transcribing bar fights as they escalated, talking with the longshoremen and misfits who aspired to be professional wrestlers, hanging out with anarchist punks and noise musicians…I was listening for the sounds of early Vancouver in today’s city. I discovered it was all around me.

Anger is a part of this book because it is human. Hate is a part of this book, too. These are awfully difficult emotions to write about, but I had to be responsible to the dark history of Vancouver, and so I had to write about anger in detail, anger and hate and fear caused our race riots. Read the rest of this entry »

FFWD: The Man Game

Thanks to Bryn Evans at FFWD magazine in Calgary for the cool write-up on the book. Linked there, and copy-pasted here for the archives.


Real men wear pink tights and makeup

Henderson tackles the games men played in gritty old-time Vancouver


Lee Henderson’s debut novel, The Man Game, opens in Vancouver in 1886, a dirty, bawdy city full of smoke and filth. Enter Molly Erwagen, a performer who has spent most of her life in the circus, recently transposed from out East with her paralyzed husband Samuel. Having nothing else to do but look after him, she finds her attention drifting to two lumberjacks, Litz and Pisk. They’re immersed in the underground “man game,” a brutal, poetic form of wrestling, where men strip naked and pulverize each other. She finds in them the same sense of desperation she feels and is drawn into their world of performative violence. Read the rest of this entry »

Audio: The Man Game reading at the IFOA

The Globe and Mail posted an audio clip of a reading I did at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto. You have to kind of scroll down the Globe’s page of readings to find it, and there’s plenty more amazing authors’ readings to distract a person from the short 7min thing I did. I read on Wednesday, October 29 with the other amazing nominees for the Writers Trust Award.


Tyee Talks Aboot The Man Game

Thanks to the inimitable Ben “big heart” Hart for the thoughtful piece on the book for Tyee. I’ll copy-paste it here, but be sure to check out the Tyee’s site, it’s full of awesome.


Lee Henderson’s Beloved, Nasty Old Vancouver

By Ben Hart

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November 5, 2008“We were in search of a history we were sure to mistreat. As if a city would ever store its proudest moments in this dipping cellar. As if we could floss a story from all this mealy worthless scrap.” So says Kat, the narrator of Lee Henderson’s first novel The Man Game, as he digs through old newspapers and photographs, testimony from another time.

The Man Game exists in two places at once — past and present-day Vancouver. In the present, Kat and Minna, the woman he desperately loves, follow the hush-hush of rumour to a neighbourhood on the east side of the city, a place utterly foreign to them. “A long-nosed boy sat in a corner of the yard beside a tree,” Kat says, describing the place, “one hand inside a black silk top hat, no pants on. That kind of neighbourhood. Poor magic.” Kat and Minna trail a crowd to the backyard of a sinking house. There, they witness two men engaged in a kind of burlesque — a wrestling match, a man game that marries brutal force and artful choreography. After the game, Kat and Minna befriend the players. They are ushered into the house and then shown to the basement. It is here they discover a story as big and as confounding as the city and all its incarnations. Read the rest of this entry »