Thursday, October 18, 2007

The Gum Thief - Douglas Coupland


I loved this book. How can you not love a book with a first paragraph such as this?

“A few years ago it dawned on me that everybody past a certain age – regardless of how they look on the outside – pretty much constantly dreams of being able to escape from their lives. They don’t want to be who they are any more. They want out. This list includes Thurston Howell the Third, Ann-Margret, the cast members of Rent, Vaclav Havel, space shuttle astronauts and Snuffleupagus. It’s universal.”

Mr. Coupland, you had me at Thurston Howell the Third - Snuffleupagus just cinched it.

The Gum Thief – a tale of two (supposed) misfits who work in the local Staples store - is full of such references to pop culture. Part social commentary, part love story (in the human sense of the word love, not the romantic one) the book highlights the absurdities of life, our consumer oriented society and the human condition.

Coupland doesn’t leave you with a sense of angst and despair as to these absurdities – he has you laughing and becoming aware of how you live your life vis-à-vis the craziness surrounding us all.

He offers hope. The ability of human beings to connect with one another is our saving grace. The two main characters do so by means of correspondence. (Which reminded me of blogging.) They reach out and touch each other’s lives in such a meaningful, amazing way.

I’ve never yet rated a book on this blog but I’m doing it now.

On a scale of 1 – 10, The Gum Thief is a 10.

You can view video snippets of the book on YouTube. (I have yet to take the time to figure out how to put YouTube on my blog…sorry.) However, in my opinion, although these videos are very well done, they do not do justice to the book itself. You must read it for yourself.


P.S. To Diesel – I don’t know if your Make Diesel Read site is still active but I think you’d love this book. And should read it. Coupland’s mind reminds me of yours! In a good way…all in a good way…

27 comments:

oreneta said...

OK...I'm just going to HAVE to read this one...thanks

Sherry said...

Sounds like a perfect read for me. I have been wanting to, trying to run away from my life since I was 3!!! Never get very far though! :)
I'm still laughing about Thurston Howell III!!!!!

Gary said...

Thanks and I'm on it - it will be on my ever-growing pile by tomorrow.

I love Doug Coupland - one of my favourite laugh-out-louds is All Families are Psychotic.

The opening paragraph is, of course, confronting as well as humourous.

Beth said...

oreneta:
You won't be sorry - I hope.
We agree on many books although not so much re: Margaret Atwood...

sherry:
Wasn't that a great first paragraph? I wish my mind worked like his.

gary:
All Families are Psychotic has been added to my list and will join my "to read" pile - which is on the verge of toppling over.

Trish said...

Hey thanks for the heads up...I was just heading out to the library in search of my next read. I hope they have it, but you know small towns...they can be a little behind on current material.

Mike M said...

This is a very good book!!

Beth said...

trish:
Hope they have it. I know you're not that into fiction but I think you'd like this book.

mike:
Glad you agree!

Sherry said...

Crap, crap, crap...I am #242 on a list at the library for this..and there are 142 copies!!! :0 However, sometimes the list moves quickly. Might have to hie myself off to Indigo or Chapters and pick me up a copy of this...Thurston Howell awaits me!! :)

Sornie said...

I love anything that can relate to Snuffleupagus but the author is right, I think that most people want out of their lives, that's why they turn to alcohol, or TV, or both.

Beth said...

sherry:
#242? Wow.
I'd lend you my copy but my eldest is about to start it.

sornie:
I don't think I've ever wanted out of my life - just a few adjustments made.
And I never realized that was the spelling for Snuffleupagus. (Yet another reason it's such a great book!)

Mrs. G. said...

It looks like I'm going to have to introduce myself to Douglas Copeland.

Beth said...

mrs.g:
I think it would be worth your while!

Nomad said...

Hi Beth!

I will add it to my to read list...Thanks!

:-)

Beth said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Beth said...

nomad:
Enjoy!
If your to read list is anything like mine, it will be awhile before you get to it.
Unless you read your new books out of order!

lynn said...

Thanks again for an insightful review. I have been looking for something new to read so I'll be picking this one up this weekend.

Beth said...

lynn:
I really think you'll enjoy Coupland.

And I'm reading a new Greg Iles (sp.?) Not as good as his others.

All Mod Cons said...

Completely non book related comment...nice win over Florida ;-)

Beth said...

all mod cons:
Was it ever!
Twenty-seven seconds left to go and we (I use the term loosely) scored!

Princess Pointful said...

My God, Coupland can pump out brilliant books quickly! He is one of my favourites, for sure.

I was so pissed off when I graduated with my Masters to find out that he had been awarded an honourary degree and made a speech for at the ceremony the day before mine. Gah! I got some city planner instead.

Shari said...

I'm going to have to move this to the top of my "To Read" list.

Have you thought about becoming a book reviewer? You do so well. :)

I miss watching Gillian's Island. I don't see the re-runs anymore. I mentioned it about a year ago about how this character made me think of Gillian and my daughter looks at me like, that must have been ancient history!! LOL.

Beth said...

princess pointful:
I would have been pissed off, too. Just imagine the kind of speech he would have given!

sherri:
Gilligan's Island actually is ancient history but I think it beats all the "Survival" shows on today. At least it didn't pretend to be real.

JR's Thumbprints said...

I've never heard of this author. There's so many damned good writers out there--I can't possibly know them all. I'm off to YouTube to investigate further.

hip_ragdoll said...

That is a very good opening paragraph. I realize that's not really contributing to this conversation, but it actually made me laugh out loud. And not in the truncated emoticon way.

Beth said...

hip_ragdoll:
It was quite the hook - made me laugh out loud, too.
(But not LOL.)

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