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Miss Wyoming Hardcover – 31 Dec 1998

3.8 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House USA Inc; First Edition edition (31 Dec. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375407340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375407345
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 14.7 x 2.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,654,562 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

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.

Review

"Douglas Coupland continues to register the buzz of his generation with a fidelity that should shame most professional Zeitgeist chasers." -- Jay McInerney, New York Times Book Review
"Coupland has at his disposal a dazzling array of tools with which to shape the emotions of his readers: the whimsy of a latter-day Jack Kerouac, the irony of a young Kurt Vonnegut, the poignancy of early John Irving." -- Bookpage quote; The self-wrought oracle of our age." -- John Fraser, Saturday Night --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
Coupland is an ingenious writer - original, ironic and with a strongly held view of modern American life. 'Miss Wyoming' is yet another of his presentations of the warped times we live in and how perhaps it could force us to want to "vanish," as do John and Susan, in radically different but equally inventive ways. The lesser character of Susan's mother is really fascinating and Coupland cleverly handles her character development throughout. I enjoyed this novel from the first page and delighted to its construction. Coupland deftly weaves between several timeframes and focuses in turn on each main character with an ease and sophistication that shows his genuine talents as a storyteller. The plot construction and structure of the novel are what makes 'Miss Wyoming' such a fine read.
However, I became utterly frustrated in the final few chapters of the novel (and feel, therefore, that the true rating of this book should be three and a half stars) when it appeared as though Coupland had "lost interest" in the novel, or perhaps was being harrassed by his publisher to finish the manuscript in double quick time! The resolution and explanation of what had really been going on in Susan's life and how John eventually finds her is told in an over-simplistic, bland, past tense narrative which is at real odds with the sophistication of the rest of the novel. What a shame.
Douglas, what happened to the ending?
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Format: Paperback
I don't know what to say about this book. I read Generation X, loved it, was extremely tempted to live it, and so approached Miss Wyoming with great anticipation. I was disappointed because the book didn't really take me anywhere I wanted to go. Where Gen X was essentially plotless, Coupland here attempts to create a situation where two people come together as a result of a shared experience and the plot tells of how this slightly mystical union came about. The narrative shifts from present to past and to present again which is cleverly done as all the pieces finally make sense as a whole. It is a good book, it is funny at times and also quite sad, but it failed to move me in the way that Generation X did. So, three stars for this one and three cheers for Generation X.
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