Monday, March 10, 2014

Worst. Person. Ever.

Worst. Person. Ever.
Douglas Coupland

Published 2013

First Sentence
"Dear Reader..."

Publisher's Description:

A razor-sharp portrait of a morally bankrupt and gleefully wicked modern man, Worst. Person. Ever. is Douglas Coupland's gloriously filthy, side-splittingly funny and unforgettable novel.

Meet Raymond Gunt. A decent chap who tries to do the right thing. Or, to put it another way, the worst person ever: a foul-mouthed, misanthropic cameraman, trailing creditors, ex-wives and unhappy homeless people in his wake. Men dislike him, women flee from him.

Worst. Person. Ever. is a deeply unworthy book about a dreadful human being with absolutely no redeeming social value. Gunt, in the words of the author, "is a living, walking, talking, hot steaming pile of pure id." He's a B-unit cameraman who enters an amusing downward failure spiral that takes him from London to Los Angeles and then on to an obscure island in the Pacific where a major American TV network is shooting a Survivor-style reality show. Along the way, Gunt suffers multiple comas and unjust imprisonment, is forced to re-enact the 'Angry Dance' from the movie Billy Elliot and finds himself at the centre of a nuclear war. We also meet Raymond's upwardly failing sidekick, Neal, as well as Raymond's ex-wife, Fiona, herself 'an atomic bomb of pain'.

Even though he really puts the 'anti' in anti-hero, you may find Raymond Gunt an oddly likeable character.

Dear Reader,

Before we go into the review, can I just point out how the first sentence of his book is the same way we start out our review. That is style, and Coupland gets kudos for that.

I really wanted to share with you my love for Douglas Coupland but this is not the book to bring you to the Coupland side. The story is about exactly what the title says, Worst. Person. Ever. This guy, Raymond Gunt, has everything going against him... but to me this is because he is a terrible person, just awful. While I don't particularly like it when the main character is detestable, I think it works in this book for what Coupland was trying to do. So the question really becomes, what was Coupland trying to make here? At first, the book seemed to be a parody of Fifty Shades of Grey. Mostly due to the relationship Raymond has with his ex-wife. I'm not saying this is really anything like Fifty Shades but you can tell from a few sentences here or there that Coupland was making jabs in that direction.

The premise for the book seems quite simple, Raymond being hired (by his ex-wife) as a videographer for the next American reality show (sounding an awful lot like Survivor). The story goes absolutely kabloowee when we find out that poor? Raymond has the world pitted against him at every turn. We don't even get to this island, promised from the beginning, until the very end of the book. Now don't get me wrong, Raymond has so much shit happen to him, you start feeling bad for him UNTIL the next despicable thing he does (which is just as often as bad things happening to him). This was justifiable karma to me, but it still made me cringe when he opened his stupid big mouth. I do have to say this, only Coupland (and maybe a few other Authors) can pull off writing a character with a horribleness such as Raymond.

I like that Coupland doesn't let you get comfortable, finding yourself constantly slapping your forehead and shaking your head. For those that haven't experienced Coupland yet, I would strongly suggest starting elsewhere but for those who know what he's like, I would pick this up. I've been reading some reviews out there and I think when people don't understand who he is a writer, they mistake him for a writer who uses gimmicks or just likes to "shock" people. That is only half true (haha), Coupland likes to try new things and he always stretches the boundaries with every book he writes. Even though I don't consider this one of his best, I do think he succeeds in creating the Worst. Person. Ever. I'll be attending an event with Coupland and Palahniuk coming up soon, Coupland is promoting this book (I believe), so I'm looking forward to hearing more about his thoughts. If I have anything to add after hearing him speak, I'll post them here or as a separate post about the event itself.

Happy Reading,

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