Friday, November 22, 2013

This Dusty Bookself: Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland

Over the summer and into the fall, my reading rate slowed down significantly. I blame this on knitting. For a long while, I was taking my knitting projects on the subway with me, small and simple things like scarves and hats. This meant books got bumped out of my commuting bag. And, admittedly, I don't read a lot at home these days. A little, but not a lot.

I managed to get through this one in September, so it's been a while since I read it. Here's hoping this review is coherent anyway.


Worst. Person. Ever

Douglas Coupland


I've been aware of Douglas Coupland for a long time but, oddly, I don't think I've read one of his books since I read Hey Nostradamus! in high school. I liked that book, quite a bit, in fact. But, until this year, I hadn't picked up another Coupland novel. 

The title? Well. It doesn't lie.

Essentially, the book is about a truly slimy character receiving his comeuppance. Raymond Gunt is offensive, cruel, entitled, womanizing, irresponsible, and, well... the worst person ever. The story is told from his perspective as he and a side-kick - a homeless man he hires on a whim as his assistant - travel to Kiribati to work on the set of a Survivor-like reality TV show. Things start out bad for Gunt, and just seem to get worse and worse and worse. Plane ticket mix-ups, arrests, allergic reactions, humiliation, ridicule, etc. etc.; throughout the novel, Coupland piles it on.

You think it would be enjoyable, 'watching' a truly terrible human being get what he deserves. 

It's not. 

This novel was surprisingly difficult to read. It was, more or less, a worthwhile read. Coupland does a masterful job of creating an unreliable narrator to lead his captivated audience through each fiasco. But as things just got worse and worse for Gunt, all at his own hand, I cringed more and more. I wanted to yell at him to just stop, just stop being such an idiot.

Of course, novels don't listen. 

(Creepy, if they did.)

I won't ever read this novel a second time. But, that doesn't mean I wouldn't recommend it for a first read, especially to those who know a Raymond Gunt. They do exist, but I think we all need a reminder every so often that even they maybe don't deserve the fate we imagine for them. 

What are you reading these days?

(Thanks to Randomhouse for sending me a copy of this novel way back in September! Oof. I'm so behind on blogging...)

1 comment:

  1. Carly@ProcrastiknittingNovember 22, 2013 at 3:30 PM

    Coupland does a better job than anyone making you want to read about despicable characters. His protagonists are always deeply flawed, making horrible decisions, and yet you keep reading.


    If you want other Coupland, I really enjoyed JPod. I've also read and enjoyed Girlfriend in a Coma (which I seem to remember being at least somewhat hopeful), Eleanor Rigby, and All Families are Psychotic. I think the last one probably features the most flawed characters though. And definitely don't read more than one in a row. One can only handle so much cynicism set on the Canadian west coast!


    Currently I'm reading Dune for the first time since high school. I think the political intrigue will make more sense to me this time!
    And I recently read and really enjoyed The Years of Rice and Salt by Kim Stanley Robinson. It's set in an alternate history where the black plague killed off 99% of the European population and China and Islam are the world powers. It tells the story of the centuries through the lens of the people living them. Very cool.

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