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This is his 'Phantom Menace'
on 16 June 2006
I became obsessed with Douglas Coupland's books when I first read Gen X, Shampoo Planet and Life After God in the space of a few weeks and have, ever since Microserfs, awaited each new one with expectations that were rarely disappointed. The overall success of his output since has varied a little, many people suggesting that he does one good then one so-so book, but the last couple - Hey Nostradamus and Eleanor Rigby - were as good as if not better than his best to date (Microserfs, in my opinion) and all of his books, however contrived the subplots and kitschy the references, had a soulfulness and poetry to them that transcended the gimmicks.
JPod is like someone lacking that humanity tried - and failed - to mimic Microserfs. It's devoid of ideas. The technology that, again, felt like a gimmick in Microserfs is now so commonplace that it's got no cachet, the family subplot is painfully unreal and not remotely touching (recall "hellojed" for a reminder of how tear-jerking he could be), the way 'Coupland' inserts himself into the story about halfway through is a poor imitation of Bret Easton Ellis and pages and pages are filled with numbers that no-one will ever read, like he ran out of oopmh and just needed to hit that word count, no questions asked.
If anyone read his recent Morrissey 'interview' for the Observer Music Monthly they should know what to expect - as that was an interview without any quotes or input from the subject, so this is a novel without any creative input or heart from the author.
I would go so far as to recommend that Coupland fans who have not yet read this book should avoid it - this is his 'Phantom Menace' and it stinks.