#am reading Worst. Person. Ever.
Author: Douglas Coupland
Discovered: Browsing in my local library
Where read: (in part) Harbour Arm, Margate
What's the story?
Meet Raymond Gunt; regular guy, middle aged West Londoner and the worst person ever. Offensive, distasteful, irritating and egotistical, Gunt wins Gold in all areas. This picaresque and off-beat tale follows Gunt as he is dispatched by his ex-wife to work on a reality show on a tiny island in the Pacific.
The Word's Shortlist view:
I picked this book up purely based on the reputation of it’s author. Over the years I’ve enjoyed many a Coupland novel - specifically Generation X and Hey Nostradamus! Coupland’s novels are always an acerbic take on contemporary culture packed with wit and intelligent observation, have you read Girlfriend in a Coma?. Indeed he payed a visit to the Cheltenham Literary Festival to talk about Worst. Person. Ever. So, I’m feeling pretty confident as I turn to page one.
How wrong could I have been. This is not Coupland’s finest hour. The trouble with Worst. Person. Ever is three-fold.
1 Characters: Raymond Gunt aside (as he is indeed the worst person ever) the problem is that most of the other characters are cut from the same cloth. We have nobody to hang our hopes on in this bizarre and pointless caper.
2 Story: A survival based reality TV show, a swirling vortex of Pacific waste and he beginning of a Nuclear war are far fetched, unfeasible and silly.
3 Plot: Much of the story takes place in the Pacific but the build up to Raymond actually accepting the job and taking the trip is protracted and boring.
We expect more from a Coupland novel. Yes there’s contemporary cultural observation from Reality TV to social media (especially in the case of Neal whose status update shifts from homeless in London to suited and booted in Hawaii) but the novel is sadly lacking in nearly all ways.
Who should read this book?
Coupland super fans? Not sure who this was written for. Gunt sums it all up well himself “Instead of feeling sexy and tingly, it felt useless, like recycling plastics or registering to vote.”
What’s next on the bookshelf
The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler
Tweet of the week:
There is something seriously wrong in #birmingham. £180m on a new library and no money to fill the shelves. Vanity over literacy