Douglas Coupland has written an epistolary novel. The Gum Thief is described as Clerks meets Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? And quite candidly, that makes three things that I really like all wrapped up in one book. Roger and Bethany are the two main characters in the The Gum Thief, and Glove Pond is the novel within the novel– written by Roger. Roger is a middle-aged alcoholic contending with the fallout from an ugly divorce and loss of access to his child. Bethany is a younger goth girl without much direction other than black lipstick. They both work at Staples. Glove Pond is a corruption of Edward Albee’s play, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? At one point Roger writes that Glove Pond was supposed to contain characters like Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton — drunk movie stars who engage in witty repartee. Roger’s novel goes horribly wrong somewhere around the second paragraph.
Crush Inc. out of Toronto produced some fascinating video clips to advertise the The Gum Thief.
I’ve been reading Douglas Coupland novels since college when I discovered and fell in love with his first one, Generation X. Coupland has always been uncomfortable with the title of spokesman for this non-Generation. In a 1995 interview he went so far to state that the idea was dead following Kurt Cobain‘s suicide. And he moved on, writing about the emerging digital age. What attracts me about Coupland is his skill at finding nascent cultural events and chronicling them inside the structure of a story with authenticity. Like no other author, he can make me think that I am in the story– or at least in the area of the story looking on. There is a level of unabashed reality mixed with privacy in his writing.