09 June 2006

JPod (Douglas Coupland) & "Wiffiti" in Davis Sq.

My Poor Excuse for a Book Review

I am entranced and comforted by Douglas Coupland's new book, JPod. Coupland's streak of modern tech-kid references, impersonal and detached observations of the Gap- and Mc-ification of the world, and the unique sorrow of what it's like to be, well, us, continues in JPod as it surged through Microserfs and Life After God.

I really, really like this book, and I bet you will too. Unless you're one of the too-many people who continue reaching this blog looking for Andre the Giant has a Possee references, in which case you scare me.

In Susan Tomaselli's review at 3AM Magazine, she notes, "Depending on your viewpoint, JPod is either a case of great art meeting literature, or more zeitgeist junk. Either way, it's very Douglas: crisp, dark, very funny and, though not as urgent as those earlier ground-breaking books, far from obsolete."

Here, Bree, one of the 20-something video game programmers in the story, explains why Sundays suck, and Thursdays are clearly the best:

"Look at it this way: Mondays suck because you're resentful that you can't sleep in, and it's also the day on which sixty percent of life-sucking meetings occur. Tuesdays suck because the week has four more workdays left; you hate yourself and the world because you're trapped in this wage-slave hamster wheel called life. Wednesdays are bad because you realize around noon that the work week is half over, but the fact that you're viewing your life in this manner means that you're nothing more or less than the third pannel of that old, unfunny comic strip Cathy, where she realizes she's a fat lonely spinster and her hair flies out and she makes the augghhhhhh! noise. Fridays are bad because you feel like a rat waiting for a food pellet to come down the chute, the food pellet being the weekend. Saturdays are okay, but only barely. And Sundays, as mentioned before, are like the day that time forgot, when nothing happens and when, perversely, you start wishing for Monday again. So give me a week of Thursdays any time. Everyone's in a good mood, people actually get stuff done, and a glint of Saturday puts a sparkle in your step."

(Coupland, pp. 196-7)

The book is dotted with pages of Helvetica-set snippets of pop cultural snapshots; Doritos ingredients, O/S warnings, and package label text. Somewhere between here and there is another example of why I recommend this book:

I keep on receiving spams where they've put random words inside the body copy to trick anti-spam programs into thinking it's a real letter. There has to be some other form of coded message in operation here.

clams evil garage clowns bogey lie saran in depart wait celery drooling puncture at bartend the pronto thought luxurious of earthmoving ripping arabesque at hypodermic your orchid lazy carrion human recriminatory flesh never bulkhead...

(Coupland, pp. 185-6)

So, there you have it. A pulpy, techie read that's endearing for its portrayal of isolation and impersonality.

JPod [Amazon] [author's site] [official JPod site]

Have any of you read it, or other Coupland works? Anything you recommend?


ps For those of you near Somerville, Mass. - ever wonder what the text-messagey-sans-serif flat panel display is in the bowels of that coffeehouse that smells like an unclean bathroom, the Someday Cafe? WELL, wonder no more. It's a "Wiffiti" screen from LocaModa. You can text message this visual electronic ephemeral bulletin board and... well, I don't know. But it's neat to look at. Click here for a live snapshot of what's on the SMS wall of several coffee houses.

pps Direct mail ads that you get at home almost always have a "ps" because people almost always read the "ps" section. Really. Check it out next time.

1 comment:

DrJKL said...

The quote attributed to Bree is actually a quote from the character Kaitlin.