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This eagerly anticipated new novel is Eden Robinson’s most satisfying, disturbing, and addictive to date. A new novel from one of our best young writers, Blood Sports is the tough, gritty story of the brutal cat-and-mouse relationship between two cousins — Tom and Jeremy Bauer — set in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. Tom, a young man, hardly innocent, has been caught up over This eagerly anticipated new novel is Eden Robinson’s most satisfying, disturbing, and addictive to date. A new novel from one of our best young writers, Blood Sports is the tough, gritty story of the brutal cat-and-mouse relationship between two cousins — Tom and Jeremy Bauer — set in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. Tom, a young man, hardly innocent, has been caught up over the years in Jeremy’s world of drugs, extortion, and prostitutes, while Jeremy, vindictive, vicious, either protects Tom or uses him, but always controls him. Added to the mix is Paulie, a junkie two years clean and Tom’s girlfriend, and also the mother of his daughter. This lethal triangle shifts when word gets out Tom has been talking to the police, and men from the past who have a lot to lose reappear. Suddenly Tom and Paulie are pawns in a much larger game, with everything at stake. With the storytelling skill and engrossing characterizations that have made her previous books so popular, Robinson keeps the tension humming in this riveting novel. This is Eden Robinson at the height of her powers. “I was born on the same day as Edgar Allan Poe and Dolly Parton. I am absolutely certain that this affects my writing in some way.” —Eden Robinson From the Hardcover edition.


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This eagerly anticipated new novel is Eden Robinson’s most satisfying, disturbing, and addictive to date. A new novel from one of our best young writers, Blood Sports is the tough, gritty story of the brutal cat-and-mouse relationship between two cousins — Tom and Jeremy Bauer — set in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. Tom, a young man, hardly innocent, has been caught up over This eagerly anticipated new novel is Eden Robinson’s most satisfying, disturbing, and addictive to date. A new novel from one of our best young writers, Blood Sports is the tough, gritty story of the brutal cat-and-mouse relationship between two cousins — Tom and Jeremy Bauer — set in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. Tom, a young man, hardly innocent, has been caught up over the years in Jeremy’s world of drugs, extortion, and prostitutes, while Jeremy, vindictive, vicious, either protects Tom or uses him, but always controls him. Added to the mix is Paulie, a junkie two years clean and Tom’s girlfriend, and also the mother of his daughter. This lethal triangle shifts when word gets out Tom has been talking to the police, and men from the past who have a lot to lose reappear. Suddenly Tom and Paulie are pawns in a much larger game, with everything at stake. With the storytelling skill and engrossing characterizations that have made her previous books so popular, Robinson keeps the tension humming in this riveting novel. This is Eden Robinson at the height of her powers. “I was born on the same day as Edgar Allan Poe and Dolly Parton. I am absolutely certain that this affects my writing in some way.” —Eden Robinson From the Hardcover edition.

30 review for Blood Sports

  1. 4 out of 5

    BrokenTune

    This combined review of Traplines and Blood Sports was first posted on BookLikes. If there is such a category as BC Noir, then Eden Robinson's books Traplines (4*) and Blood Sports (3*) epitomize this category for me. I'm combining the review of both books here because Blood Sports is the continuation of Contact Sports, one of the short stories contained in Traplines. Having discovered Robinson's work through her novel Monkey Beach, I was not quite sure whether her other work would follow paths a This combined review of Traplines and Blood Sports was first posted on BookLikes. If there is such a category as BC Noir, then Eden Robinson's books Traplines (4*) and Blood Sports (3*) epitomize this category for me. I'm combining the review of both books here because Blood Sports is the continuation of Contact Sports, one of the short stories contained in Traplines. Having discovered Robinson's work through her novel Monkey Beach, I was not quite sure whether her other work would follow paths and include similar themes or whether it would be wholly different. As in Monkey Beach, both Traplines and Blood Sports are written from the point of view of teenagers or people who have had to learn to become adults rather early. However, where the rites of passage in Monkey Beach are accompanied by a sense of community based on legends and a presence of the supernatural, all the stories in Traplines and Blood Sports are focused on people growing up trapped in the gritty and dysfunctional fringes of society, dealing with violence, addiction, despair, and seemingly unable to grasp at any opportunity that could lead a way out of it, even if it seems to be offered. Violent and gritty but at the same time moving. And none more so than Contact Sports / Blood Sports which is set in Vancouver's East Side at a time when it was classed as the most dangerous place in Canada. The story follows Tom, who wants to escape the world of crime and addiction and settle down with his young family. Tom is haunted and - literally - hunted by his drug-dealing, video-blogging psychopath cousin Jeremy, who will stop at nothing to wage revenge on people who he thinks have betrayed him. If you need trigger warnings - this book pretty much has all of the ones I can think of, and more. It's still a pretty good read. "Nothing existed. Nothing had ever existed but the pain. He squealed, he heard the sounds ripping through his throat, and he fought the ropes. He screamed and he screamed and he threw himself forward so the ropes would tighten and it would end."

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lucinda

    This book is about as gritty as they come. It tells a rather convoluted story - largely owing to Robinson's decision to dispense with chronology for the sake of building suspense - of a couple trying to cut out the rot of their pasts after getting off drugs and cleaning up their acts. When you surrounded yourself with psychopathic drug-dealers and their thuggish 'friends', well, it is not so easy to start anew. Especially when the psychopathic drug-dealer is your cousin and, at times, showed you This book is about as gritty as they come. It tells a rather convoluted story - largely owing to Robinson's decision to dispense with chronology for the sake of building suspense - of a couple trying to cut out the rot of their pasts after getting off drugs and cleaning up their acts. When you surrounded yourself with psychopathic drug-dealers and their thuggish 'friends', well, it is not so easy to start anew. Especially when the psychopathic drug-dealer is your cousin and, at times, showed you more care and concern than anyone else ever has. Or something. Honestly, this book jumps around so much that you really need to have your inferencing cap on to sort out everything that is between the lines. I didn't always feel up to the task (uh, so what exactly did Jeremy do to Tom in the first go-round? And how did those bikers get involved anyway?), which was compounded by having long-ish gaps between my reading sessions. Robinson has a gift for portraying people who haven't had a lot of opportunities and/or means in their lives in a way that shows their intelligence, resourcefulness, resilience and heart. She did this really well in Monkey Beach as well. I liked that book more than this one, but both show her compassion for the downtrodden equally well. And, of course, I have to mention Robinson's choice of setting - Vancouver's Downtown Eastside. practically every Canadian knows about Vancouver's Eastside. It has been known as 'Canada's Poorest Postal Code' (although that honour now goes to Cape Breton's Eskasoni First Nation, with Winnipeg's inner city a close second. DTES is now 7th poorest). Its needle exchange, opened in 1989, was the first in North America. There are extremely high rates of HIV infection, homelessness and mental illness among its denizens. Not to mention violence and the sex trade. Anyway, it is a place that likely conjures up a lot of stereotypical images of places and people that one would give a wide berth to. But Robinson shows how community is built here, the little ways in which people living in a community get to know each other and recognize each other's humanity, no matter what the circumstances. Overall, this is a book that doesn't sugar-coat how hard the everyday can be for people who never got a break in their life, and how making those seemingly minor decisions to try to ease the miseries can add up to a whole lot of crap on your head. Kind of brutal, non?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    Read this for my Canadian Literature seminar in undergrad and I loved. I loved the different mediums of telling the story, I loved the characters, I found the subject matter engaging. Also, as a horror film fanatic, I loved the references all the way through. I said it in my review of traplines and I'll say it again: Jeremy Reiger is the most effed up character ever. He's only present in this book in flashbacks for the most part and he is still just everywhere, watching everything. I'm getting ch Read this for my Canadian Literature seminar in undergrad and I loved. I loved the different mediums of telling the story, I loved the characters, I found the subject matter engaging. Also, as a horror film fanatic, I loved the references all the way through. I said it in my review of traplines and I'll say it again: Jeremy Reiger is the most effed up character ever. He's only present in this book in flashbacks for the most part and he is still just everywhere, watching everything. I'm getting chills just thinking about it! I am craving a sequel. Like hardcore. I need a sequel.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Robyn

    I am really struggling between 4-5 on this book. I was a bit nervous to read it because other reviewers said this one was so brutal and disturbing. However, Robinson as usual does a great job of being balanced with her depictions of violence so they never really feel gratuitous. If you could handle Trickster, this one isn't terribly more violent. (Note that there is quite a bit of forced drug use, which is possibly the cruelest form of violence I can imagine.) This was a very artistic book, and s I am really struggling between 4-5 on this book. I was a bit nervous to read it because other reviewers said this one was so brutal and disturbing. However, Robinson as usual does a great job of being balanced with her depictions of violence so they never really feel gratuitous. If you could handle Trickster, this one isn't terribly more violent. (Note that there is quite a bit of forced drug use, which is possibly the cruelest form of violence I can imagine.) This was a very artistic book, and she plays with a lot of different storytelling styles, screwing around with the timelines a lot such that I was constantly flipping back to try and remember when we last saw a certain character. It was pretty easy to do with the video transcript style in Part 2 so it worked well. I also had to go back and read the first letter after I finished the book. She was ambitious with this book and I really think she pulled it off well. Later noting that this is her modern retelling of Hansel and Gretel adds another layer of things to think about. I suppose my biggest issue was that Tom reminded me so much of Jared from Trickster that I couldn't really view him as a new character. After reading all of Robinson's novels, it is obvious she builds upon her previous works with each book she writes. I am sure I would have felt like Jared was Tom, if I'd read the books in a different order. This isn't really a complaint, because the stories are different, and Blood Sports has no magical element. Trickster now reads to me like a mishmash of the best elements of Monkey Beach and Blood Sports combined (though with a totally original and wonderful story). Again, not a bad thing, just processing out loud. I'm really surprised that all of Robinson's novels except this one have been nominated for Gillers. The others have all been shortlisted and this one didn't even make the longlist, but it definitely was the most artistic and literary of the bunch in my opinion. Dare I wonder if we only reward indigenous authors in Canada if they are telling the stories we expect them to tell, those that can be classified as "indigenous literature"? I think I will settle on a 4 for this one, because while it was really compelling and well-written and I know it will stick in my brain, it just didn't give me the same goosebumps as her other novels. Still a recommended read! If you want to check out Eden Robinson's books but aren't that intrigued by the magical elements of her others, this would be a good one to start with.

  5. 5 out of 5

    MargaretDH

    This was really cool and experimental. Also, Eden Robinson has either seen some stuff, or has a great imagination. Robinson details the lives of two former drug addicts, Tom and Paulie, who had a kid and are pulling themselves out of addiction and crime into a happy, loving family by sheer force of will. But then someone from their former life gets out of jail, and things start to head downhill real fast. The story is told in letters Tom writes to his child, video tape transcripts completed for th This was really cool and experimental. Also, Eden Robinson has either seen some stuff, or has a great imagination. Robinson details the lives of two former drug addicts, Tom and Paulie, who had a kid and are pulling themselves out of addiction and crime into a happy, loving family by sheer force of will. But then someone from their former life gets out of jail, and things start to head downhill real fast. The story is told in letters Tom writes to his child, video tape transcripts completed for the court, flashbacks and current action sequences. Robinson's narration was constantly changing, keeping me on my toes and wanting more. You see Tom from many vantage points, occasionally inside his head, but you don't always get the whole story. As always, Robinson's writing is detailed and evocative, and even when what's happening on the page is gross or horrifying, you can't look away. Robinson also excels at setting. There's a lovely, warm portrait of Vancouver's lower east side here, a place with a pretty bad reputation. It's not exactly a paradise in this book, but Robinson shows the ways that it's a community, and belongs to many different people, not just hardened junkies and criminals. As with many of the books she writes, the story is tied to place, and just seems to fit. I do think her later work is stronger. Tom is always the centre of this book, but because of the storytelling devices, exactly what's happening is sometimes blurred or opaque. Tom struggles with poorly treated epilepsy, and his girlfriend is a former addict, so the fact that the past is fuzzy makes a lot of sense. But there were times where I struggled with following the plot exactly and I think Robinson would not have wanted me to stuggle all of those times. Despite that, Robinson still creates technicolor characters that spring off the page. Even when they're make bad decisions, you're right there with them understanding exactly why they're doing what they're doing, and the plot seems to unfold inevitably. I wouldn't recommend this as the first Eden Robinson book you read, but if you've enjoyed her other work, this is definitely worth picking up. I'd start with Monkey Beach or Son of a Trickster instead.

  6. 4 out of 5

    kay

    *read for literature of BC class* :/ traplines was so much better

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jo

    I love Eden Robinson's voice. She can capture the complete picture of the sounds in words on a page, and that's not only a rare talent, but a fair smidgen of magic too. I think I may have to reread this one, because I'm not certain I have grasped all the threads. I rather think this is intentional, but my logical side wants a little more sorting of the tangled web of the characters in this one. Not only is much of the action videotaped, but the book takes you through it in flashbacks and odd bit I love Eden Robinson's voice. She can capture the complete picture of the sounds in words on a page, and that's not only a rare talent, but a fair smidgen of magic too. I think I may have to reread this one, because I'm not certain I have grasped all the threads. I rather think this is intentional, but my logical side wants a little more sorting of the tangled web of the characters in this one. Not only is much of the action videotaped, but the book takes you through it in flashbacks and odd bits, with cinematic non-linearity. Set in Vancouver, from luxury condo tower to the Downtown East Side, it's the story of Tom Bauer, his cousin Jer, who moves in and out of Tom and his mother Chrissy's life, and the people they interact with, especially Paulie. Drugs and money are involved. It's rather shocking at times, but also includes some very tender moments. I wish I could capture in words some of the things the writer does. And she's young - I hope to read many more of her books in coming years.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Vivienne

    After a choppy disjointed start caused by the author's writing and my own preconceptions ("Downtown East Van" = Serial Killer = not what this book is about) this book was fascinating. The narrative swung from brilliantly rendered snatches of real life as told by a hard working, smart, poor, young father protagonist, to "what the hell?" moments where every other character in the book is the antagonist. Very dark but also uplifting. I was sucked in the by this dynamic story which, unfortunately I After a choppy disjointed start caused by the author's writing and my own preconceptions ("Downtown East Van" = Serial Killer = not what this book is about) this book was fascinating. The narrative swung from brilliantly rendered snatches of real life as told by a hard working, smart, poor, young father protagonist, to "what the hell?" moments where every other character in the book is the antagonist. Very dark but also uplifting. I was sucked in the by this dynamic story which, unfortunately I can't describe at all without ruining the story. I think the wild swings in events are a very effective simulation of how dramatic and unsettled life can be when you're living close to the edge.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Orenda

    Overall - it's OK. The changing styles made it interesting, but I just couldn't understand WHY time was so dynamic. One minute it's the present, the next it's the past. Occasionally I think it was he future. Anyway, the ending sucked. Not because it was unfinished. That I could handle. But it was predictable. And I wasn't expecting that in this book. The content was dark, which I wanted. It was gritty. Which I wanted. But I don't think this was a Home run for her. Maybe traplines will be better. Overall - it's OK. The changing styles made it interesting, but I just couldn't understand WHY time was so dynamic. One minute it's the present, the next it's the past. Occasionally I think it was he future. Anyway, the ending sucked. Not because it was unfinished. That I could handle. But it was predictable. And I wasn't expecting that in this book. The content was dark, which I wanted. It was gritty. Which I wanted. But I don't think this was a Home run for her. Maybe traplines will be better.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Rueben

    this book is brutal. the letter in the beginning is awesome, great premis and set up. i don't know about the camcorder narration, it seemed like a screen play or something, it got annoying. i liked reading about the toddler. the whole novel was fierce. the characters reminded me of my family. terrifying. i kept expecting the intensity to decrease at some point in the story but it didn't... it just gets worse and worse. gnarly. this book is brutal. the letter in the beginning is awesome, great premis and set up. i don't know about the camcorder narration, it seemed like a screen play or something, it got annoying. i liked reading about the toddler. the whole novel was fierce. the characters reminded me of my family. terrifying. i kept expecting the intensity to decrease at some point in the story but it didn't... it just gets worse and worse. gnarly.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lester

    Oh man..what a story of disturbing proportion! Vancouver East Side is like a very small country..everything in human life happens there..and we never really know or are willing to admit the most painful things that go on in all walks of life. Eden Robinson is an excellent story teller. One day I hope to see and hear her in person. Thank you.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Susan Armstrong

    This book is not for the faint of heart. But it had me in its grip till the end. I was tense throughout, and although not a book one relaxes with, I loved it. It is painful, but real, it reveals life experiences for some that most don't want to acknowledge. Some excellent writing by Eden. This book is not for the faint of heart. But it had me in its grip till the end. I was tense throughout, and although not a book one relaxes with, I loved it. It is painful, but real, it reveals life experiences for some that most don't want to acknowledge. Some excellent writing by Eden.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Danya

    This was a gripping (but very disturbing) read.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    WOW! What a ride that was. I found this in the library and have loved her other later books. This was a bit more raw and what? hmmmm well...raw. I did struggle a bit with some of the nonlinear timelines, but ultimately it didn't take away from the story, just confused me a little now and then. I ripped through this book. I felt for the characters, I felt like I knew them. In the book club questions at the back it said she has toyed with writing a next book in this series. I would welcome it and WOW! What a ride that was. I found this in the library and have loved her other later books. This was a bit more raw and what? hmmmm well...raw. I did struggle a bit with some of the nonlinear timelines, but ultimately it didn't take away from the story, just confused me a little now and then. I ripped through this book. I felt for the characters, I felt like I knew them. In the book club questions at the back it said she has toyed with writing a next book in this series. I would welcome it and love to hear more about what happened in these lives. Some of the things that happen seem over the top, but if you have spent any time around active substance abusers it really isn't, it seems real, accurate, spot on. Highly recommended but RAW. The questions also referenced that this is a contemporary version of the original gruesome Hansel and Gretel, I feel like I need to go read it now. What a book!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tom Gray

    This is a novel about the drug and drug underworld culture in Vancouver. It is a novel about how people are taken into this world involuntarily and are kept there and are kept their by the consequences of their actions. It illustrates how for the people inside it this culture of crime and degradation is self-perpetuating. It shows how money and the capacity to make money buy influence and immunity both inside and outside teh criminal world. The novel is written in a cplex non-lienar form with mul This is a novel about the drug and drug underworld culture in Vancouver. It is a novel about how people are taken into this world involuntarily and are kept there and are kept their by the consequences of their actions. It illustrates how for the people inside it this culture of crime and degradation is self-perpetuating. It shows how money and the capacity to make money buy influence and immunity both inside and outside teh criminal world. The novel is written in a cplex non-lienar form with multiple styles or=f narration. It is effective in this way by staying outside of a simple narrative and contextualizing the choices and chances that move people deeper and deeper into the illicit life despite their attempts to stay out of it. The complexity of the narrative style is effective and deeply appropriate to the subject matter and theme.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Eden Robinson's style of writing picked me up and carried me away right from the start. This is one of the first books I've found that reads the way people talk (At least in my opinion). I could get through the dialogue without being pulled out of the story thinking, "No one would say that." Some of the flash backs confused me and I had to just hang that passage up for inspection at a later time, but by the end it all made sense. This isn't a story that has a clear beginning, climax and ending, Eden Robinson's style of writing picked me up and carried me away right from the start. This is one of the first books I've found that reads the way people talk (At least in my opinion). I could get through the dialogue without being pulled out of the story thinking, "No one would say that." Some of the flash backs confused me and I had to just hang that passage up for inspection at a later time, but by the end it all made sense. This isn't a story that has a clear beginning, climax and ending, you have to find it for yourself. It's an honest look at people in a shitty situation that they were both thrust into and created. No Mary Sues or unbelievable heroes here. I can't wait to read another of her books.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Garth Mailman

    California has East LA, BC has Vancouver's East Side. This is a story of people who live there and cope with its demise. I didn't look at the other reviews for this book and decided to read it based upon the fact I'd read Monkey Beach. Knowing that drug culture involves torture, depravity, murder, degradation does not make one ready to spend hours reading about it in detail. Some books make one decide that's life's too short. California has East LA, BC has Vancouver's East Side. This is a story of people who live there and cope with its demise. I didn't look at the other reviews for this book and decided to read it based upon the fact I'd read Monkey Beach. Knowing that drug culture involves torture, depravity, murder, degradation does not make one ready to spend hours reading about it in detail. Some books make one decide that's life's too short.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Laura Frey (Reading in Bed)

    She's sure got a knack for writing teenagers. I recognize a lot of the mid-to-late 90s slang. The adult characters didn't works as well for me. This is supposed to be an homage to Hansel and Gretel, which I am going to read tonight (in my big volume of Grimm's fairytales) so I can decide for myself! She's sure got a knack for writing teenagers. I recognize a lot of the mid-to-late 90s slang. The adult characters didn't works as well for me. This is supposed to be an homage to Hansel and Gretel, which I am going to read tonight (in my big volume of Grimm's fairytales) so I can decide for myself!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Brad

    Admittedly, I had a hard time keeping track of the chronological changes, and since there were a couple of times I couldn't come back to the book for a few days, it made investing in the story and its characters pretty hard. Robinson's talents as a stylist are really on display, though, and reading this after Son of a Trickster made the latter's overuse of dialogue really obvious. Admittedly, I had a hard time keeping track of the chronological changes, and since there were a couple of times I couldn't come back to the book for a few days, it made investing in the story and its characters pretty hard. Robinson's talents as a stylist are really on display, though, and reading this after Son of a Trickster made the latter's overuse of dialogue really obvious.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Kyla Belvedere

    This book is excellent, although I am still mentally piecing together the sequence of events. Like my book though, I love the style where not every chapter is in the same format. There were some questionable uses of setting (such it seeming no time or hassle to walk from Granville Public Market to Kits Beach) but Vancouver really stood out to me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Mystic Faerie

    3.5 stars. I really enjoyed this book. I found it a little hard to follow at times... It jumped from date to date, and sometimes there was no date, just a different scene... but I think in the end it tied it all together. Very dark and brutal. Very well written.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cristopher Wright

    Grittttttttttty! A very raw read, not for the squeamish. Folks, if you ever get the chance, get yourself to a reading, panel, or any other event at which you can luxuriate in the rich personality of Ms. Robinson, and do get yerself caught up in her incessant, wonderful laughter/giggle habit!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Cristina Simonetto

    Wow. Violent. Has you on the edge of your seat. It’s not linear so you have to patch the story together, but that increases the suspense. It can be confusing though. Like all good books, I wish it didn’t end.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Nikki Reads A Lot

    The horror is very real.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sandra

    Couldn't get into it at all. Didn't finish Couldn't get into it at all. Didn't finish

  26. 4 out of 5

    Neeuqdrazil

    This was disturbing, confusing, and confirms that I will read just about anything Robinson writes.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    Um, there's not really anything sporting about blood for this reader. Brutal and vicious. Um, there's not really anything sporting about blood for this reader. Brutal and vicious.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Del Morgan

    A dark and twisted tale of life on the downtown East side of Vancouver.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Teresa Mills-clark

    Well, that was grim.

  30. 4 out of 5

    A'Llyn Ettien

    Twisty-turny, violent action, confused memory, and love for a baby.

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