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Coupland does slapstick
on 16 October 2013
Raymond Gunt is an English B-unit cameraman, sent to the remote Pacific island nation of Kiribati by his TV producer ex-wife to work on the "Survivor" reality TV show. Gunt has almost no redeeming qualities and almost as soon as the book starts we find him arguing then fighting with Neal, a homeless person, whom he then invites along to Kiribati to be his assistant. Once they set off for the Pacific islands, the trip turns into an endless series of disasters and embarrassments for Raymond.
The story is essentially a farce with plenty of slapstick humour, much of which is juvenile, puerile, scatalogical and downright silly. It takes a lot for a novel to make me laugh but this had me getting funny looks on the train to work as I regularly laughed out loud. Seasoned Coupland fans may not like the book because of its humour and lack of "message" - I doubt anybody will claim it is their favourite book of all time as many do with the likes of "Girlfriend in a Coma" - but I found it thoroughly enjoyable. Coupland's obsession with pop culture is still there, along with a fixation on hybrid cutlery (sporks, foons and the like) and I loved the style with notes inserted into the text explaining references or providing brief asides.
Tremendous fun, but not a book for everyone. I suspect it will polarise Coupland's fans, losing him some but gaining others. For me it's the funniest, most enjoyable book I've read so far in 2013.