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The Gum Thief Paperback – 1 Sep 2008


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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (1 Sep 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747593825
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747593829
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 172,892 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

'Funny, touching and immensely enjoyable' Daily Express 'Classic Coupland' Independent 'A tender and hopeful story that shows how, with friendship and the occasional little act of rebellion, there can still be laughter after tragedy' Daily Mail 'He is a brilliant social commentator and a wit for our time' TLS

About the Author

Douglas Coupland is a novelist who also works in visual arts and theatre. His novels include Eleanor Rigby, Generation X, All Families Are Psychotic, Hey Nostradamus! and JPod. He lives and works in Vancouver, Canada.

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Customer Reviews

3.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Doc on 30 Oct 2007
Format: Paperback
Coupland's voice is instantly recognisable and he has a set of themes he has made is own. And The Gum Thief is representative of both. He doesn't extends his range (as he did in Eleanor Rigby and Hey Nostradamus!) but neither does he rehash earlier successes (J-Pod). There are many beautiful observations here, and moments of genuine warmth. There are also moments of indulgence, issues in pacing, a wearying sense of deja vu and ultimately, the whole doesn't really add up to very much. If you like Coupland, you will still like him at the end of The Gum Thief, but I can't help feeling this is a novel written between other, hopefully more ambitious projects.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By bloodsimple on 8 Feb 2009
Format: Paperback
Not being a fan of Coupland, I'm not infected by any idea of how high on the Coupland league this would rate. Viewed in isolation, this seems to be a middling effort. On the one hand, there are some nice observations, a sharp turn of phrase, and an initially-enjoyable spoof novel. None of the characters in the main story grates, and it pops along with a reasonable pace.

On the other hand, at no stage is this laugh-out-loud funny, and the overall tone and direction starts to get tiring about halfway through. The excruciating nature of the failed novel starts to pall fairly quickly, and the characters start to meander. Towards the end of the book, it almost starts to get morose, as it attempts to get serious. It is not sufficiently well written for an ending of genuine pathos, but by then Coupland appears to have given up trying to be arch and witty.

Overall, I'm not sure Coupland knew what he was really trying to do with this book. There is not enough acute observation and depth to be a genuinely human, or humane, piece of work. However, it is not out-and-out funny, provoking a few smirks rather than guffaws, and is not as wacky or as smart as it would like to think it is.

This wouldn't make me want to rush out and buy the entire back-catalogue. But it wouldn't totally put me off, either. Neither one thing nor another.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Marvin Fenderson on 5 Nov 2007
Format: Paperback
The Gum Thief is a novel within a novel, but worse, it's a novel about a novel about writers. There's a lot of opportunity for this to become tedious nonsense, and it doesn't always avoid that. Coupland does a pretty good job of making the outer story readable, and its characters interesting. Unfortunately the inner novel, Glove Pond, intentionally written to be awful, lives up to that intention much too well, making it hard to stop oneself from just skipping whole chapters.

I wish Coupland had stuck with the initial idea used at the start of the book of having one character write as if they were another.

The author of Microserfs and Eleanor Rigby has lost none of this ability to get inside the lives of unextraordinary people and portray a world that's not just instantly recognisable but so familiar that it's uncanny. However even if The Gum Thief is much better than JPod it's still not a return to the form of his earlier work. At a recent public speaking opportunity Coupland insisted on reading only from Glove Pond, perhaps this is a reflection on how he sees his own novels.

Worth picking up if you're already a fan, but not a good introduction.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ladybird on 10 Dec 2007
Format: Paperback
I'd rate Eleanor Rigby and, especially, Hey Nostradamus! as being among the best novels I've read in the past few years - novels which use an elliptical style and apparently disconnected narrative threads to communicate something of the reality of this, our relativist, incoherent but fascinating culture. This one, however, is weak: unrealised characters who 'live' existences now too reminiscent of other Coupland creations; a meandering and at times very slow, eventless plot; and a punchless ending.

I like the guy's best work enormously, but I'm hoping the next one's a lot better.
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I'm a big fan of dc, ever since he turned my head with generation x. this book is not up to that or any of his great books standards but it is an interesting read all the same. as always he obverses life pretty keenly and the dynamic between the characters is good. i read it on trains and planes and that is the prefect place for it.
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At first I thought this would be a confusing book to read with all the different voices intertwining, but you very quickly get drawn into the characters and their lives. I absolutely loved it. It is the first Douglas Coupland I have read and I now want to read more. Recommend this.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Afraid this may be a book too far for Douglas.
It must be really difficult to follow such massive creations as most of his previous output.
This one has a distinct whiff of turn the handle and churn out some more cash.
Thanks so much for some of the best books I have ever read though!
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Format: Paperback
Nicely written book as usual from Doug. I've read it twice now. Not his finest hour, but not that bad either. I like the way the gum Roger steals migrates into his novel and is given to Gloria in the planetarium. It's a simple gesture, but it's all Steve has to offer. Seems to be advocating petty crime. Compare this perhaps to the opening section of Michael Cunningham's 'Specimen Days'.

For a while I thought that one of the characters in Roger's novel was writing Roger's world into existence, like some kind of postmodern paradox, but unfortunately that didn't occur.
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