Monday, June 19, 2006

Jpod

Once again, I’ve gotten to the end of a Douglas Coupland book and ask myself two simple questions:
  • Why can’t Coupland just stick to a simple story and let his amazing dialogs and observations stand on their own?

  • Why do I keep expecting him to change his style?
I just finished reading his latest novel, Jpod and for 75% of the book, I really enjoyed Coupland’s portrayal of nerds. The story focuses on a 30-ish year old programmer named Ethan, his family and his pod mates. Coupland puts the fun is dysfunctional with the relationships he creates, but that side of the story starts to suffer when he tries to make this story something it is not.

Granted I have worked in the same environment he describes and uses as his humorous muse, so the jokes might be funnier for me but he’s go the dialog and social interactions of computer programmers nailed. He expanded on the success of Microserfs to create a fast-moving, easy to read story, but for some reason he decided to incorporate the extraordinary into a story that was fantastic in its simplicity.

The life of a nerd doesn’t have the major ups and downs that Coupland forces into this story. I’m not trying to give much away, but human trafficing, murder, heroine addiction and many other topics are introduced like you might expect him to introduce something like buying a new pair of shoes. The depressing realism of video game programmers is what makes this story good, not the ridiculous plots he tosses into the mix.

The thing that really bothered me about this novel was that he actually writes himself and his books into their lives as more than just a passing occurrence. The characters interact with, and even go into business with Coupland (who writes himself as a cold, money-hungry asshole). To me, this is not humorous or ironic. It is simply vain.

Still, as with most of his novels, I kept reading and enjoyed most of what I read. Coupland is funny, sarcastic and not concerned with what you, or his publishers think. It’s like he writes for himself, which makes it that much more accessible. If you are looking for a plot that grips you, you could do better with many other writers but if you are looking for an enjoyable read, you can do a lot worse.

Posted at 5:58 PM by ack :: 0 comments

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