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Miss Wyoming [Paperback]

Douglas Coupland
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

15 Mar 2004

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 TV soap star, 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 producer (Bel Air P.I… um, Bel Air P.I. 2), occasional sado-masochist, junkie. He just died – but only for 5 minutes. 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, 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.

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Miss Wyoming + All Families are Psychotic + Hey Nostradamus!
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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; (Reissue) edition (15 Mar 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0007179820
  • ISBN-13: 978-0007179824
  • Product Dimensions: 19.8 x 12.4 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 362,621 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 PI?, 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 st0ry, 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


‘Picture Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut collaborating on a Tinseltown version of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and you come halfway to grasping Coupland’s brand of thoughtful, supremely funny storytelling.’

‘If Kerouac had been a couch potato, this is the kind of book he might have written.’
New York Times

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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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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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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Imperfect but likeable tale of Generation X+1 30 Nov 2001
By A Customer
Nobody is better than Douglas Coupland at exploring the melancholy of the modern soul. Bret Easton Ellis has a similar view of the emptiness and restlessness of contemporary life, but whereas for Ellis's characters the result is narcissism and dehumanisation, Coupland spins bittersweet tales of learning to live with it, love with it, and be content, if not exactly happy.
To Coupland devotees, 'Miss Wyoming' is very much more of the same. Susan Colgate, her very name redolent of the empty, whiter-than-white magic of branding, is almost a parody of synthetic, commercialised modern existence. A woman whose very self-identity is indistinct from her vainglorious junk-media persona. Nonetheless her thoughts and wants are everywoman, albeit writ large and in flourescent colours. 'Miss Wyoming' is the story of how almost by accident she stumbles to happiness and finds real feeling under the plastic schlock that has passed for her past. The themes it explores filter back into experiences with which the reader identifies at every step.
It's not a great novel. In particular, it seems at times unable to decide whether or not it has, or needs, a plot. But it is a good novel - not Coupland's best, but still a well-written tale of emptiness and indistinct longing which nonetheless becomes sweet, charming, and even life-affirming towards its conclusion.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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 tale's central characters in the nick of time. The plotlines may skip around a little too much, but the witty narrative and colourful supporting characters more than compensate.
Coupland captures the hollowness of modern life and tinges it with a melancholy that moves you and ultimately uplifts (although perhaps it shouldn't).
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good, but not his best. 30 Jun 2011
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, and provides a nice connection between them. I found myself more interested in Susan Colgate's life and feel that it may have been a better (though entirely different) book if she was the only narrator.

Other people have said how they found themselves not knowing who some of the secondary characters were towards the middle of the book, something which I agree with. This is probably because the story follow 4 threads. Both main characters have two timelines each and it isn't always clear which line you are following as the author switches between past and present mid chapter on occasions, a clever concept that isn't always successful.

If you haven't read a Douglas Coupland book before, try "Girlfriend in a Coma" or "All families are Psychotic" before reading 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 7 months ago by Black bamboo
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 a simple lurve story.
This was the second coupland book i read and it was veeery enjoyable. It seems to start slowly as the plot takes time to build up around the non-linear narrative, but once it gets... Read more
Published on 2 Feb 2002 by Mr. M. Hartley
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