Thursday, 20 December 2012

JPod - Douglas Coupland

Finally, is what I said upon reading this. I'm a West Coast Canadian reader girl and I had never read JPod. Not even one time. Despite its immense popularity, despite the home-province setting, despite my brother trying to break into the video game industry. But NO MORE am I out of this particular loop.

JPod is the story of six lowly employees (programmers, artists, and probably also other things I don't remember) at a video game developing company in Vancouver, BC. It's EA, really, I mean come on. Our protagonist is Ethan, a programmer, and we focus on him and the whackadoo events of his life. That's really all you need to know. No complex plot or characters, here. Just some solid day-in-the-life comedy.

I liked JPod. I liked the randomness of it. We'd go from the politics between marketers and developers during game-making, to thoughts on autism and technology, to crack mcdrugscenes, to PAGES and pages of coding or spam samples or the first 100,000 digits of pi. These things are a bit. Coupland is riffing, and I like it.

What I didn't like was Coupland. Relatively early in the novel, he inserts himself as a character. These scenes are full of self-deprecating humour (administrated by Ethan) in which Character Coupland is a pompous douche canoe, and yes, I get that it's a joke, but oh man if I didn't find those scenes spectacularly annoying. It's like that thing that people say, how a joke is 90% truth (I don't agree with this all the time but it works for my point here so just go with me dudes). Character Coupland is so self involved that of course he would make himself a character, making sure the readers remember him. But of course that is the function that is actually performed. Those scenes were just pages of I wrote this! I'm the AUTHOR! But I'm also a CHARACTER! Aren't I meta and hilarious?


But I've talked to other people who've read JPod, and Character Coupland doesn't bother all of them. And even if it does sound like something that would bother you, if you like absurd, day-in-the-life comedy, JPod is entirely worth a read. If only to check that yes, there really are 41 pages of pi.

Friday, 14 December 2012

On Nick Hornby and how he is awesome.

Nick Hornby is awesome.

So I just finished Gone Girl and Let's Pretend This Never Happened and those are some hard acts to follow. After them, I couldn't bear to read anything that wasn't Harry Potter because I am SO EXCITED FOR READING RAMBO'S READALONG HOLY CRAP HAVE YOU SIGNED UP YET. Fortunately, I eventually stopped vibrating with excitement enough to remember I had recently purchased Juliet, Naked

I'm halfway through, and man, it's great. It's light and funny and I like the characters and the focus on music and messed up relationships. It's Hornby: Classic.

My first first dance with Hornby  like many of us, I'd imagine  came with High Fidelity, and it was love at first top 5 list. Lists! Music! Britishness! 

My most gleeful of jams.

Then About a Boy happened and with it came tears and late-bloomed Nirvana enthusiasm. Slam was fine and A Long Way Down was freaking genius (I feel like Hornby must have written it on a bet. Make suicide funny?

It will be my greatest triumph to date.)

The only Hornby I haven't liked, How to be Good, deserves a reread, because it was my encounter with a protagonist that I actively wanted to slap. I couldn't handle it when I first read it, and I think my reaction might have been greater than what I was reacting to.

So, Hornby's no Harry, but he'll do. FOR NOW.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Let's Pretend This Never Happened - Jenny Lawson

I will catch up with you yet, internet favourites of 2012.

This has to be one of the books that encouraged the most anxiety among book bloggers (well, my type of book bloggers) this year. Written by the ever hilarious and eternally popular Bloggess, there's the feeling that, if you don't like this book, you'll be kicked out of the tribe. And we all loooooove this tribe. As someone who recently graduated from lurker to sometimes blogger, I was feeling that anxiety. What if I didn't think this was funny? What if I proved myself an outsider to this glorious club of outsiders? WHAT THE HELL THEN?!

This caps lock key is not big enough for my feels.

But never fear, fellow tribe members who've yet to read this. If you like the Bloggess' blog, you'll like this book. That's it. Her voice is there, her rambley, tangential narrative style is there. It's the Bloggess, y'all. It's all going to be OK. (Also, can we acknowledge how it's impossible not to say "y'all" after reading this book? It's impossible.) (Also also, you'd never be kicked out of this tribe for not liking this or any book. Because this is the best of tribes. With killer subtribes such as the epicly fabulous Cult of Wilkie. BUT I DIGRESS.)

Like her blog, Lawson's memoir is balanced between snorty, ugly-laughing hilarity, shockingly sad moments turned to uplifting "Depression Lies" defiance, and general WTFery. I haven't read ALL of her blog, but she goes into more detail about her childhood than she has in her posts since I've been reading (about a year and a half?). Like, for example, how her dad leaned a little Gaston in his style choices.

He used antlers in all of his DEHHHcoraaating, is what I'm saying.

Which explains her penchant for ethically taxidermied animals, like Hamlet von Schnitzel, who is featured on the cover of her book, and my personal favourite, Juanita Weasel, featured in this glorious piece of internet from the Bloggess' blog:

Posted nearly a year ago and I'm still laughing. Go to the original post because I'm only just stopping myself from reposting all the memes.

Anyway, the takeaway from this is read the book and the blog. Join us.