The idea of this blog is to facilitate the love of reading by collecting news about new books, or sometimes good old books. It is also dedicated to stamping out the scourge of e-books, Kindles, Kobo's, i-Pads, and all other such abominations.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Guest blog--Thoughts on jPod

While Thora studies the blog-driving instructions I'll come up with a few inane reflections to fill the space. My wife likes to say I never read anything but that is not true. In fact it is a cruel infamy. It's true I don't read books in the ink-on-paper sense but ever since the advent of talking books so I can get them through the realm of gadgetry, I have been getting in on the scene. You'd be surprised what up-to-date literature I can find on audio book now. For instance I just finished the brand new Douglas Coupland opus, jPod. I am a big Dougie fan. I appreciate a writer who can show you a good time, and he comes through every time. Although I have to say, this time he didn't come through for me as well as other times. I liked it and would recommend it and all, and it had all the patented Coupland smartass-isms that make him so entertaining. I guess my complaint is that, more than his best books, this one ONLY had smartass-isms. The story itself is a kind of throwaway, as if he wasn't even trying to make you believe these are events that truly could have happened somewhere. He seems to have read Post Modernism for Dummies before setting to work and indulges in all sorts of fancy tricks with the narrative line such as breaking off to talk to himself, and saying "if this were a responsible novel, the next thing that would be happen would be such and such, but in fact what happened was my sweet old middle class mother who normally wouldn't hurt a fly murdered a Hell's Angel, whom it turned out she had been sleeping with while he marketed her basement grow-op..." I have never bothered my head to about what post modernism in writing could all be about because from the start I marked it as one of the sillier literary fads that is sure to be over soon, like it already is in architecture. I still need willing suspension of belief to really enjoy a novel and when the writer keeps breaking in to say, "I'm just writing this, you know, I can do anything I want, ha ha, I'm toying with your gullibility, you stupid reader..." there's no way you can get the 'ol WSOD happening. And I think there's another place this book fails to measure up to Dougie's usual performance. His characters aren't as great. I mean, I am still in love with Miss Wyoming. I still ache for those two young people who got schmucked in Hey Nostradamus. I still muse over those bright lab-rat types in Microserfs. But I could never quite get the hang of these people in jPod. He does his great thing that he always does, he penetrates a significant social scene and reveals its absurdity in stark relief using his razor-sharp satirical eye, and here he does make me think of all the computer nerds I know, in the mass, but they never come alive individually for me the way the tinsel stars of Miss Wyoming did. They all seem two-dimensional, like the characters in their own computer games, who merely act out propositions and never really breathe. Perhaps this is some intentional very clever literary device, but I miss breathing. As I said at the top, I still enjoyed it more than about 80% of the novels I've read in the last 12 months. If it were DC's first novel instead of his umpteenth, I would probably be saying here's a brilliant new writer instead of saying Dougie didn't quite reach his personal best in this one. Not that it seems to matter. To judge by the bestseller lists, it is going through the roof. If old patterns hold true, the Giller and GG people will probably choose to make up for ignoring his better books by smothering this one with honours. Which would be ok by me, because I think he has been one of Canada's top five fiction writers for the last twenty years and the CanLit establishment's denial of him is its folly, not his. I mean do they think that because you're funny, and popular and fascinated by contemporary society, you can't be good? That would be news to Sinclair Lewis, the Waughs and the Amises, not to mention Jonathan Swift.



Anonymous raincoaster said...

Wow, how weird. Whodathunk there'd be two bookish "raincoasters" in the neighborhood, and both guest-blogging at the beginning of July?

It's a small, odd world.


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