4.12.2010

The Gum Thief / Douglas Coupland : 4 of 5

The Gum Thief: A NovelMy reading habits have changed a lot in recent years, so I find my nose in manga and graphic novels a lot more than actual fiction novels these days, but it only took about ten seconds to get hooked on Douglas Coupland's latest book (which was a gift from my pal Dae). Coupland is definitely my favorite author of contemporary fiction, and I've read nearly every book he's written since his original Generation X (which coined the term that we all take for granted), and his writing never ceases to entertain, amaze, and make me think about life. The Gum Thief is unique since it's told entirely through first-person written communication (letters, journal entries), so the reader is constantly in the heads of the main characters. Roger and Brittany are quite different people (Roger is a divorced, drinking novelist and Brittany is a goth girl), but they both suffer together through their job at Staples (there are tons of hilarious details and anecdotes about the office superstore and its typical employees). Eventually they begin writing to each other in Roger's notebook, and Roger starts to share some of his new novel called Glove Pond, which is a pretty fascinating "story within the story" itself, especially as events of real life start to spill over and appear in the Glove Pond story. Other characters write letters as well, such as Roger's ex-wife and Brittany's mom (who begins to develop a relationship with Roger), and it's amazing to read Coupland becoming all of these characters. Actually, The Gum Thief has some literary acrobatics when you think about it, since Coupland is writing as Roger who is writing Glove Pond, and so on! With all of Coupland's fiction, there are fantastic contemporary metaphors and witty descriptions, well-balanced by a veiled message about life. Coupland is never preachy, but since this time his characters are truly corresponding with each other, he can come right out and say (as Roger), "Life is short, and yet it's long. Being here is such a gift." It was really fun to read a "big boy book" again, and I'm looking forward to Coupland's next novel!