Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Gum Thief, by Douglas Coupland

4 stars!

#2 in my 'books set at the office' series

Book two in the November 'novels set at work' series. Leave it to Douglas Coupland to write from the heart of the zeitgeist. What should seem like satire in his hands reads like realism. And so we find our two characters, unlikely allies, working at a Staples 'office superstore', and pretty much hating life. The cast expands to include family members and so-called friends, and there is also a novel-within-the-novel, which mirrors the, um, outer novel.

The entire book is told through letters, diary entries, and chapters of the protagonist's own book. This kind of self-evaluative narration works really well. The characters are allowed to speak for themselves with unsophisticated, bitter honesty.

They are, in fact, are so eerily real and devastatingly unhappy that I was ready to down a few thousand vodka tonics myself just to keep up. Luckily, Coupland skillfully pulls us all back from the brink without giving in to a pat and happy ending. Everyone experiences a little redemption, but we're all still broke and unsatisfied, living in soulless modern western culture... A good book to read during misery-inducing November.

Douglas Coupland's new book Generation A is going to hit bookstores soon; I'm adding both it and Generation X to my list. A is not so much a sequel, apparently, as a similarly structured story set 20 years after X.

I found this on Coupland's homepage:
Douglas Coupland has no facebook or myspace page.

He does, however, have a twitter account. Here's my favorite post:

Hit by scary mood jitters that come every fall/winter; the seasonal depression thing. That it's predictable makes it somehow stupider.

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