Thursday, 20 December 2012

JPod - Douglas Coupland

Finally, is what I said upon reading this. I'm a West Coast Canadian reader girl and I had never read JPod. Not even one time. Despite its immense popularity, despite the home-province setting, despite my brother trying to break into the video game industry. But NO MORE am I out of this particular loop.

JPod is the story of six lowly employees (programmers, artists, and probably also other things I don't remember) at a video game developing company in Vancouver, BC. It's EA, really, I mean come on. Our protagonist is Ethan, a programmer, and we focus on him and the whackadoo events of his life. That's really all you need to know. No complex plot or characters, here. Just some solid day-in-the-life comedy.

I liked JPod. I liked the randomness of it. We'd go from the politics between marketers and developers during game-making, to thoughts on autism and technology, to crack mcdrugscenes, to PAGES and pages of coding or spam samples or the first 100,000 digits of pi. These things are a bit. Coupland is riffing, and I like it.

What I didn't like was Coupland. Relatively early in the novel, he inserts himself as a character. These scenes are full of self-deprecating humour (administrated by Ethan) in which Character Coupland is a pompous douche canoe, and yes, I get that it's a joke, but oh man if I didn't find those scenes spectacularly annoying. It's like that thing that people say, how a joke is 90% truth (I don't agree with this all the time but it works for my point here so just go with me dudes). Character Coupland is so self involved that of course he would make himself a character, making sure the readers remember him. But of course that is the function that is actually performed. Those scenes were just pages of I wrote this! I'm the AUTHOR! But I'm also a CHARACTER! Aren't I meta and hilarious?


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But I've talked to other people who've read JPod, and Character Coupland doesn't bother all of them. And even if it does sound like something that would bother you, if you like absurd, day-in-the-life comedy, JPod is entirely worth a read. If only to check that yes, there really are 41 pages of pi.

12 comments:

  1. Is this something that's ok if you DON'T know anything about the video game industry/play them/really care that much about 'em?

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    1. I don't think you need to know or like video games to like this book. It's more quirky conversations, sit-com style than industry jargon and stuff.

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  2. You should read And Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris, which does more excellently and with less douchebaggery what JPod was trying to do.

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    1. Oo! TBR'd, madam, with my thanks. Less douchbaggery would be the right amount of douchbaggery.

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    2. "Less douchbaggery would be the right amount of douchbaggery."

      This is, I think, a good maxim for life in general. GET ON THAT, UNIVERSE.

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  3. Excellent GIF use, madame. Cos the author but also character thing sounds super annoying.

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    1. Thank you! And yes, I did not like that bit.

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  4. I just spent a full 3 minutes trying to make a "self-insertion" joke and it refused to work.

    Much like writing yourself into your own book.

    BAM!! I win.

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  5. In high school I became moderately obsessed with Coupland and read a lot of his books. I really liked Eleanor Rigby, but when I think of its plot now it just seems really strange...

    I don't think JPod sounds like my cup of tea, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. Especially the GIFage.

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    1. I did *like* JPod, which I'm not sure totally comes across what with the mini-rant at the end there. But I can completely understand it not being your choice of beverage. Good to know you liked Eleanor Rigby! I'll have to give it a shot.

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  6. Ooh, I own this book but have never read it. I've never actually read anything by Coupland but fun story: I met him once and had cocktails with him and he is quite the odd character.

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