like Douglas Coupland’s work. I really enjoyed Generation X and his gritty observations of modern Americana. And The Gum Thief, which I’d intended to last a week of easy reading got brushfired-off in one weekend (I was at a train operating session and there was a lot of down time between runs).
So the novel is an interesting store about intertwined relationships, all that begins, laughingly (or depressingly enough) in a Staples store. Two of the drones here, Bethany the goth chick and Roger, the washed-out forty-year-old life failure, suffer through their days in this bleak consumer hell. But the funny thing is, there is no verbal interaction between them.
Bethany is pissed because she found Roger’s diary and he’s been writing observations about her. So she picks up a bic (plenty around in a Staples) and writes her own comments back. In no time, they realize that they share a same chord of desperate humanity, a craving for more. Still not speaking, the book becomes a cross-cut of their written letters, each observing life in the store and their own rocky pasts. Add to this Roger’s strange little novel he’s felt obliged to write (as all writers are obliged), a quirky little eoffrt titled Glove Pond. So now our cast of characters grow. Besides the drunk and the goth, the goth’s mother get’s involved (small world – she’d dated Roger briefly in high school). We also view some of the emails between the store drones (mostly concerning Bethany’s and Roger’s strange antics) and some side characters, too. All in all, it’s strange how phrases used in one context suddenly show up in another. And through it all, the most uncomfortable dinner party ever imagined grinds to its sad conclusion (in Roger’s book); so there are four more characters there.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one. I’ll even think I might hang onto this – it might be worth reading again in a years time, just to see all the clever side-references as they unfold. So, yes, if you haven’t read Coupland, have a look. And this book is a great place to start.
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