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Miss Wyoming [Paperback]

Douglas Coupland
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb 2000

The brilliant new novel from the bestselling cult author of them all.

Susan and John need to disappear – Susan and John need to find each other.

Meet Susan Colgate – Miss Wyoming. Winner of a hundred teen pageants, child star of Meet the Blooms (America’s favourite family), owner of a hideously pushy mother… and now reduced to small, brainless parts in small, brainless movies. Oh, and sole survivor of Flight 802. If she were to walk away from the wreckage now, before the emergency crews get here, she could disappear and nobody would ever know…

Meet John Johnson – action film star (Bel Air P.I… um, Bel Air P.I. 2), occasional sado-masochist, junkie. He just died – but only for 5 minutes. All the crap he’s done to his body over the years, and it’s a flu that killed him! But while he was gone, he saw a vision of a woman’s face and realized that it was time to escape, to ditch the baggage of being horny, rich, lonely John Johnson and to lose himself. To disappear.

Wouldn’t it be nice if they were to find themselves and get together?

In many ways a reprise of Girlfriend in a Coma (60,000 copies sold in paperback in its first three months…), Miss Wyoming represents a further leap forwards into the World According to Coupland – a witty, genuinely funny look at who we are, how we can change, and how we can make a difference.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Flamingo; 1st. Edition edition (Feb 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0002259834
  • ISBN-13: 978-0002259835
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 13.6 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,782,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Amazon Review

Heroine of this outstanding tale is Miss Wyoming, Susan Colgate, teen beauty-queen and low-rent soap actress. Dragooned into stardom by her demonically pushy, hillbilly mother, Susan's career is at rock-bottom. When she finds herself sole survivor of an air-crash, she views it as her opportunity to vanish, embarking on a voyage of personal discovery.

Meanwhile, John Johnson, debauched star of such Hollywood legends as Bel Air PI², also longs to vanish. After a near-death experience, where he is treated to a vision of Susan's face, he roams the badlands of the western States. Back in L.A., a chance meeting sets him on a mission to unravel the mystery of Susan Colgate.

Coupland has a genius for capturing the absurdities of modern existence and using them as backdrop for a tale of hope and fulfilment. The curses of the cyber-age--junk-mail and web-junkies, fast food, jaded TV weather forecasters--teem around the central story, creating a vivid and darkly funny tale. His peripheral characters are just as richly drawn. A scriptwriter and his supernaturally intelligent girlfriend, a recluse who spends his evening generating Internet rumours--all manage to be blessed and cursed, numbed by their pointless existences but full of humanity when put to the test. Picture Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut co-writing Zen and The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and you come halfway to grasping Coupland's uniquely funny and thoughtful brand of storytelling. --Matthew Baylis


Praise for Girlfriend in a Coma:

‘An ambitious new urban myth… Coupland has managed to marry a parable to his sociological observational skills, at the same time avoiding a mawkish, sentimental story… A dark, prescient book, a meditation on the mystery of life, the next step in a continuing search for meaning.’
Mike Bradley, The Times

‘A millennial novel of a very subtle and interesting kind. It’s visually brilliant, full of extraordinary imagery, fresh like new paint. I was absolutely knocked over by it.’
Tom Paulin, Late Review

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Wyoming: Hit or Miss? 22 Feb 2000
By A Customer
A self-confessed Coupland junkie, I don't know quite what to make of his latest. It once again has uncharted subject matter, glorious characters-as-possibilities, and pretty much all the warmth and zeitgeist-grabbing accuracy of his previous works, yet it somehow doesn't allow the reader to engage with it in the same way as "GenX" and the story collection "Life after God".
Where the hyperreal fantasy episodes of "Girlfriend in a Coma" pulled you in and left you breathless, the flights from reality in Miss Wyoming come across as absurd plot contrivances. They wink at you with a "God, you wouldn't believe this if it happened in a book" impudence, but end up causing the same empty ache that John experiences on realising that Susan didn't appear to him in a sublime vision at all, but was merely his own post-resuscitation confusion of a mid afternoon TV re-run.
Having said that, Vanessa, the freakishy intelligent think-tanker and Ryan, the shrine-building scriptwriter are my favourite DC creations to date. A book to re-read, if not to treasure forever.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "Vineland" Lite 6 Feb 2000
By A Customer
Although Couplands writing is as easy as ever, and although his flow of observations and modern day observations is as acute as in his previous books - this novel never really goes anywhere (maybe having tried for the big idea in "Girlfriend in a Coma" and failing to find it, Coupland set his sights a little lower this time). The characters are only a little more than stereotypes, and although their backgrounds are sketched in for clues as to motivation, there is no real sense of the pain that must have driven them. The plot is entertaining, but relies on coincidence - which is fine if the ultimate purpose is worth it...but what is the conclusion of the book? There is no trancendance that lets you buy into the coincidences (say in the way a Keislowski film does). Read it and see if it matches the sleek style that the writer can produce without seemingly trying. There was a great deal in the plot (the disappearing heroine, the family reunnion, the omnipresence of tv, the superhuman data-mining sidekick...) and its resolution that reminded me of Thomas Pynchon's "Vineland", and it leads like a less fantastical gloss on that book; all shiny surface and no real depth.But even so, still a thousand times better than the vast majority of meaningless self-concious writing that is around.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Coupland moves on.... 22 April 2000
By A Customer
Douglas Coupland is one of America's best writers at the moment, and Miss Wyoming sees him moving on from ultra-zeitgeisty novels to something with a wider resonance. Again Coupland's theme is the search for meaning in people's lives in the face of relentlessly shallow popular culture. As with Girlfriend in a Coma there is a surreal magical edge to the story which leads us to suspend our literal sense of what 'is' and enjoy the story.
Coupland has yet to write a bad novel, however this is not his best. That is probably because his characters are more difficult to identify with because they are the sort of people who star in movies and soaps on Channel 5. I think most people have more in common with the nerds and losers in Microserfs and Generation X!
Like his other novels, Miss Wyoming is funny and perceptive and surprisingly emotional, and I am really looking forward to Coupland's next one!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Some good moments, but not one of his best 16 April 2010
I'm a great admirer of Douglas Coupland's gifts: his memorable use of simile, his empathy with his characters, and his gift for revealing love and beauty in the most unpromising of locations. Here, he turns his eye to a satirical treatment of fame, beauty contests, making movies and fandom with the tale of washed-out film director John Johnson's pursuit of ex-child beauty queen / soap opera star Susan Colgate. This takes quite a while (the whole book, even) because there's a lot of doubling back to show you how they became the damaged people they are. Some of this exposition is done quite explicitly (including toe-curling scenes of each of them eating out of garbage cans), but it's all done - I think - to reinforce the redemption that comes into their lives with the discovery of true love.

Unfortunately, by the time that turned up, I could feel my attention wandering (at one point, I realized that I was unsure about the difference between some of the minor characters, which isn't a good sign). To be fair, there are some good moments: Coupland gives you an insight into the life of the semi-famous that's valuable in a celebrity-obsessed culture, and he hasn't lost his gift for turning a phrase: for example, at one point, Susan highlights the Catholic guilt of her would-be (married) lover with "Excuse *me*, Larry. Pope on line three", which made me smile. This gift allows him to deftly summarise a setting with just a few words, e.g. (p183) "They were breakfasting in the Alpine Room of the Denver Marriott. It was seven-fifteen Tuesday morning, at an orientation meeting and 'Prayer Wake-Up with Turkey Sausage - Turkey, the Low-fat Pork Substitute'".
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5.0 out of 5 stars More optimistic than 'Coma' 24 July 2000
I have read and enjoyed all of Coupland's work, but I've always had to make sure I was in a positive frame of mind before starting (because I knew I'd be depressed by the end). I think this is the first Coupland I've read that hasn't had me gnashing my teeth at the pointlessness of it all in the final couple of pages. It was also nice to see that he hadn't depended on flights of fancy to remove his plot from confusion. I kept on expecting an ending akin to 'Coma' where all the protagonists were flown off in a space ship to the Disappeared Celebrity mother planet or something. So I was pleasantly surprised when that didn't happen. Anyway, buy it, read it, and then make all your friends who haven't read any Coupland start with this one.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Random
It was as if Coupland wrote the book - and then threw all the chapters, except the first and last chapter, in the air. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Black bamboo
3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not his best.
Miss Wyoming isn't Coupland's best book, but it still is worth a read.

The idea that both main characters "disappeared" on the down turn of their careers is a good one,... Read more
Published on 30 Jun 2011 by D. Jenkins
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
Great book, the way it was written keeps the reader wanting to find out what happens next. The stories intertwine well. Prompts one to think about the effects others have on us. Read more
Published on 20 Nov 2010 by Book worm wannabe
4.0 out of 5 stars If you're looking for something a bit different give this a whirl
Douglas Coupland does modern america well. His portrayal of the shallow celebrity conscious world we live in and it's consequences upon individuals and individuality is wonderful. Read more
Published on 7 Jan 2009 by lovemurakami
4.0 out of 5 stars Miss Wyoming
Not quite up to the standard of JPod and All Families Are Psychotic, but much better than Generation X, Microserfs and Eleanor Rigby. Read more
Published on 22 Feb 2008 by gerty guinea
4.0 out of 5 stars Great - but what happened to the ending?
Coupland is an ingenious writer - original, ironic and with a strongly held view of modern American life. Read more
Published on 13 Jan 2006
3.0 out of 5 stars Miss American Culture?
There is an unreal quality to 'Miss Wyoming': characters and actions remain believable, while occupying a world that doesn't feel quite right. Read more
Published on 11 Dec 2003 by "scribeoflight"
3.0 out of 5 stars Miss American Culture?
There is an unreal quality to 'Miss Wyoming': characters and actions remain believable, while occupying a world that doesn't feel quite right. Read more
Published on 11 Dec 2003 by "scribeoflight"
3.0 out of 5 stars Miss American Culture?
There is an unreal quality to 'Miss Wyoming': characters and actions remain believable, while occupying a world that doesn't feel quite right. Read more
Published on 9 Dec 2003 by "scribeoflight"
4.0 out of 5 stars Modern love story that leaves a pleasant taste in the mouth
I've got to admit I almost gave up on this book before after the first 100 pages or so. However, Coupland either picks up the pace at just the right moment - or I warmed to the... Read more
Published on 12 Nov 2003 by Mr. P. M. Daily
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