The Gum Thief Summary á 7

Summary The Gum Thief

The Gum Thief Summary á 7 Ò The first and only story of love and looming apocalypse set in the aisles of an office supply superstore In Douglas Coupland's ingenious new novel sort of a Clerks meets Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf we meet Roger a divorced middle aged aisles associate at Staples condemned to restocking reams of 20 lb bond paper for the rest Years of sorting the red pens from the blue in aisle 6One day Bethany discovers Roger's notebook in the staff room When she opens it up she discovers that this old guy she's never considered as uite human is writing mock diary entries pretending to be her and spookily he is getting her rightThese two retail workers then strike up an extraordinary epistolary relationship Watch as their lives unfold alongside Roger's work in progress the oddly ti. An interesting enough to keep me reading work of fiction from an author that comes highly recommended This is the second book by this author I have read and I am already seeing pretty obvious trends The most obvious trend is that whatever the circumstances and whoever the characters the main business of the novel is the internal landscapes and ruminations of the individuals Billed by Bloomsbury on the back cover as wise witty an unforgettable I personally disagree with all those descriptions I saw no wisdom moments of insightfullness perhaps but they were small and fleeting To me it was less witty than formulaic and inclined to try too hard for it to be anything but pretentious Unforgettable well time will tell but I suspect that I will have thoroughly forgotten it in a few months because the ending which I did not like nullified all the thought I had been putting into it while I read itThis novel has three sections and unlike many novels they are not seuential they are interwoven One section is Roger a middle aged man working at a officeworks type superstore which may actually exist in the USA or be fictionary I don't know and it doesn't much matter The second section is Bethany a young woman of socially outcast ish goth ish nature who also works at the store Neither of them much like the store or each other At some stage these two individuals start corresponding with each other which is the bulk of the novel The third part of the novel is 'Glove Pond' a novel that Roger is allegedly writing that he apparently shares with Bethany who loves it A couple of sections written by Roger's ex wife and Bethany's mother are barely ripples in the trendNow I didn't not enjoy this book as a whole I certainly finished it I didn't hate itI found Roger and Bethany intriguing and uite liked reading their sections which definitely contained the insightful moments regarding society work the expectations of ourselves and society which make life a mosaic This is where the social commentary I was expecting was locatedThe third section though I hated 'Glove Pond' than I can say Poorly written intentionally so I am told but intentional bad writing is still bad it was agony to read I think it is meant of be comical Or a social commentary of some kind I don't know what or how it was just painful painful painful And you couldn't skip it because it was a plot element you suspected I hear some people found it funny Huh having my fingernails pulled out I would probably find funnier If you can imagine cleaning out an aged relatives cupboards and finding the manuscript they wrote in the seventies when they thought they could be an author that is Glove Pond Ouch Aside Glove pond reminded me of 'Face Glove' me and my friends nickname for MMA That was a small amusement at leastSo Roger according to the text is meant to have not finished school the main male character in the GolvePond novel is Steve who is meant to be a university English professor Neither character is believable as either designation they melt into each other in a way that if it is intentional is poorly executedThe reference on page 230 to a Stephen King movie where people vanish from a plane was in the only other book by this author I ever read in as much detail It would be funny in a university drunken party sort of way but does not bear reading a second time Ditto the plastic soldiers on page 257 Cut and paste on this scale is a poor tactic when you expect people to pay for a book The ending gave me no amusement nor satisfaction I will not spoiler it for anyone who might read it but if you already have view spoiler The final section titled C is from a tutor to some guy who is doing a writing course the tutor is scathing and if he had to read any of what I just read I don't blame him We are left with the unexplained undelineated anticlimax of this novel where we can decide for ourselves if;1 Rogers reaction to Bethany and her mum's loving GlovePond was to do a writing course2 The whole novel was April Fools and just a practice run in this fictionary course Steve and Bethany don't exist3 Roger exists as does the store but everything else is invented including the only character that was consistent and believable; Bethany Roger was too variable to be believable in the long term4 Some other randomwtf which I have run our of care factor to try and predictYou chooseOh also; is it just me or is that the most unlikely comment for a lecturertutor teacherwhatever to write ever The self promotion bit yeah I can see that might be funny maybebut the rest is just as unlikely agonising and as poorly tongue in check as GlovePond itselfSo is the final section that is suggesting to us that everything we just read is false also falseOh for goodness sake who even cares enough to wonder There is only so much you can mess with the reader before it becomes tedious and I would have already forgotten this tediousness if it was not for my addiction to writing reviews hide spoiler

Douglas Coupland ¿ 7 Review

Tled Glove Pond a Cheever era novella gone horribly horribly wrong Through a complex layering of narratives The Gum Thief reveals the comedy loneliness and strange comforts of contemporary lifeCoupland electrifies us on every page of this witty wise and unforgettable novel Love death and eternal friendship can all transpire where we least expect them and even after tragedy seems to have wiped your human slate clean stories can slowly rebuild you. Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography cclapcentercom I am the original author of this essay as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegallyLike many writers of critical reviews I too sometimes think about the idea of one day penning an entire book long series of essays about a particular artist and of all the artists in history that now exist the one I'm perhaps most ualified at this point to write an entire critical book about would be Canadian author Douglas Coupland; I've read eight of his eleven novels now the majority of them multiple times along with a handful of his nonfiction books all the short pieces he's ever published and several hundred interviews with him that have been conducted over the last 17 years not to mention a memorable experience actually meeting him in the year 2000 In a nutshell while at a Chicago reading he became obsessed with the fact that I'm deaf in one ear and actually stopped his reading in the middle of it to ask me all these strange random uestions about it And in this I don't think I'm too terribly different than a large group of other people my age; after all it was Coupland who wrote 1991's Generation X the book that literally coined the term for the generation my generation the first book to teach all of us that it was okay to dream of a different world than the trippy hairy mess our aging hippie bosses had created that it is in fact a generational duty I mean sure that single book eventually led us to an entire decade of unnecessary body scarification Kevin Smith films and drag ueens hosting afternoon talk shows but that's not Coupland's fault for writing the novel that started it all Or is it See that's the kind of essay I'd write if I ever wrote a book of essays about Coupland; and it'd be a cool book too I'm telling youThat's why I was looking forward to reading through his latest 2007's medium sized and easily digestible The Gum Thief; because the three novels of Coupland's that I haven't gotten to yet read frankly are the last three he's published 2003's Hey Nostradamus 2004's Eleanor Rigby and 2006's JPod not for any particular aesthetic reason but merely because I've been permanently broke throughout the 2000s so I've been happily anticipating getting caught up with his ouevre ever since opening CCLaP a little less than a year ago And indeed The Gum Thief finds Coupland in fine if not terribly exciting form just as is the case with the majority of his books; it'll take most people just a few days to get through it and it provides exactly a few days worth of entertainment a good matchup even while not exactly soaring to the heights of his absolute best work so in other words this is no Microserfs On the Coupland Scale of Weirdness this definitely tips in on the dark sad and bitter side; Life After God than Shampoo Planet an examination of the endless failures of life than of its few successes Because that's really the first thing to understand about Coupland if you want a chance of deeply getting and enjoying his work; that he lives in this sorta little literary bubble of his own where it's difficult to compare his plots and style and even way of working to any other writer except himself and his books against any other books but his own Coupland's world is a semi surreal place but not a fully surreal one a place where things just weird enough are always happening events very much informed by popular culture and that are conveyed to us through the smooth minimalist elegant personal style that Coupland's past as an ad agency copywriter has given him It is not unusual within a Coupland story for time to stop for apocalyptic events to take place without any of these things being the main point of the story itself; Coupland's main point is always to examine the humanity inherent in each situation even if it's a sometimes cold and irony laced humanity that often has problems communicating with each other and even if told in a much clever and meta way than most character dramas areThis is certainly the case with The Gum Thief; it is primarily the story of Roger a middle aged alcoholic who has just gone through a series of personal crises divorce death of a child loss of a job which now find him living in a basement studio apartment in a large anonymous city sneaking vodka into his new day job as a clerk at office supply store Staples just in order to make it through each soul crushing day Yeah welcome to Coupland's world chump Because that's the thing that's often forgotten about his work especially by his critics or not even mentioned in the first place; that when Coupland is in a bad mood he can be one of the most pathos infused writers of our generation painting portraits of human hopelessness and moral weakness that on the bleak scale fall just short of Russian epics about suicidal madmen in winter The Gum Thief isn't a pleasant book it isn't a pleasant book at all; it's a relentlessly grim and dour book in fact one that wallows in all the filth and garbage of the usual world hoping merely that the fates of the various losers we meet along the way are somehow just a little bit better by the end since good is too optimistic a fate to hope forBecause that's the other thing; as the story continues of course Roger ends up gathering a host of deeply flawed characters around him as well all because of a notebook he accidentally leaves in the store's breakroom one day in which he is writing new fictional character sketches based on his real co workers and half heartedly contemplating taking up the challenge again of becoming a published author It's because of this notebook and these fictional character studies that he then comes to the attention of co worker Bethany an overweight goth girl in her early twenties who unfortunately had a plethora of friends and relatives accidentally die around her during childhood This then has left Bethany unsure of herself sarcastic and bitter about life unable to trust or love the people around her; so in other words a perfect match and foil for Roger someone who starts leaving snotty rambling letters in his notebook that admonish him to never acknowledge them out loud to her while actually on the clock at the storeThis then leads us to the main crux of the novel which as usual with Coupland is a bit difficult to describe but enjoyable nonetheless For example partly this is about the growing complex relationship between Roger and Bethany the way that their unspoken correspondence very slowly helps push each other to a point of awareness and healing they weren't at before But also this is about the relationship between Roger and Bethany's mother DeeDee yet another emotionally scarred loser who it turns out had actually gone out with Roger on an dual alcoholic date in the past and who starts adding her own letters to the correspondence after finding out that Bethany and Roger have started conversing But then this is also the story of the new novel that Roger has been inspired by Bethany and DeeDee to sit down and finally write a dreadful comedy called Glove Pond that is a transparent ripoff of Edward Albee's Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf; and it's not just the story of the novel itself large chunks of which are interspersed among the letters but also how the people around him react to the novel with to us it being pretty obvious that the novel is awful but with Bethany and DeeDee impressed because of neither being familiar with the Albee original And because of all this literary trickery of course the book ends up becoming something else as well a meta story that is a story about stories about stories about stories with there in actuality being hardly any real dialogue in The Gum Thief at all but rather an entire manuscript's worth of letters and emails and office memos and diary entries and novel excerpts and the likeNow to be fair there is also a fair dose here of all the things Coupland's critics complain about as well over reliance on pop culture references for one good example a glib irony worshipping writing style that is sure to turn a lot of people off right from the start And Lord don't even think about turning to a Coupland novel and expecting some sort of grand message but rather be ready for a small story about small people that ultimately only says small and uiet things; this is why Generation X became as cultishly huge as it did after all is because Coupland never set out to write a book about an entire generation in the first place but has admitted many times in interviews that he expected no one besides his own circle of friends to understand the point of the book at all This is the sort of attitude you need to have about Coupland going into his novels in order to truly appreciate them in a deep way; you need to see them as simple stories about specific people but who by extension are then telling big stories about all of us in an untold way And you need to go with Coupland down that road to get there need to keep thinking about his ideas after the book itself is done; when you do this he becomes much than a MTV friendly pop culture guru but actually a sophisticated chronicler of the human condition That's why I keep reading Coupland and keep enjoying Coupland; it's why I ultimately recommend The Gum Thief as well even though it will clearly never be thought of as one of Coupland's best

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The Gum ThiefThe first and only story of love and looming apocalypse set in the aisles of an office supply superstore In Douglas Coupland's ingenious new novel sort of a Clerks meets Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf we meet Roger a divorced middle aged aisles associate at Staples condemned to restocking reams of 20 lb bond paper for the rest of his life And Roger's co worker Bethany in her early twenties and at the end of her Goth phase who is looking at fifty. This is a stupid bookThis is one of the aggravatingly bad books that I've read in some timeHere's reasons why this book is of poor uality1 Completely unlikable characters The book centers around a forty year old losery guy and a twenty four year old shrill goth girl Those are red flags I know but it's not their external appearances that make these characters unlikable but rather their voice their way of telling their respective stories First off both Roger and Bethany come across very one sided Roger is miserable and drinks Bethany is bored That's it But don’t let these surface differences fool you In reality every character thinks the same way they think like Douglass Coupland They speak of the metaphysical and philosophical in the same fashion You could take 80% of the ideas that these characters spout off change what mouth of what character it’s coming out of and the book would be the same Now I know that’s his style and usually I forgive him for that you could say the same thing about Microserfs and Generation X two books I think are excellent but I paid 30 for this book and I’m bitterIf that isn’t bad enough the other part of the book centers around a story within the story a novel Roger is writing titled Glove Pond The novel from what I can tell is supposed to be awful But it’s hard to say because the characters in The Gum Thief all love it so much you start to think maybe Roger is supposed to be some sort of gifted writer But he isn’t Glove Pond sucks Everyone in Glove Pond is annoying That’s the experience of reading this book; instead of suffering through one terrible story you suffer through two2 Distractingly out of touchThere’s this part where a character steals some gum and the security tape of the incident is set to music The character doesn’t get caught or whatever on the video This video is mentioned to have become a massive hit on YouTube Call me a skeptic but I don’t think he knows what kind of videos become hits on YouTube It’s like he wanted to mention viral videos because it will make him look hip So okay who cares The problem lies in the fact that all of these things well most of them come in the form of asides and as such are mostly unnecessary He didn’t need to mention YouTube but he did And nothing good came for itThen there are the big generational misconception flaws maybe the most important one is the idea of a twenty four year old woman goth She’s so old to be doing this and as it’s not really fully explained it feels like Coupland doesn’t know how modern day subcultures work It seemed weird and off3 It’s dumb “DeathLife always kills you in the end but first it prevents you from getting what you want I’m so tired of never getting what I want Or of getting it with a monkey paw curse attached All those Hollywood people are always saying to be careful what you wish for yeah but at least they first had a wish come trueHang on I’m venting hereOne breath”Prepare for reading a lot of that sort of stuff from every character Everyone’s like smokin’ cigarettes and like drinking piss vodka and stuff and like shit’s fucked up man The whole book has this Hi I’m Douglass Coupland and I needed some money to build a deck feeling to it I normally don’t diss on a book this badly and I feel jerkish about it I've never written a novel terrible or otherwise I’ll say there’s a part where a writing teacher makes the class write about the experience of a bread being buttered from the bread’s point of view and I think anyone who has had a creative writing class will find this mildy amusing Additionally I smiled on four jokes that he put in there too somewhere But I’ll also say this is the second worst book I’ve read in two yearsI have to say but goodreads' limit is 4000 characters