Thursday, March 26, 2009

I kinda wish my last name started with a "J".

At the end of our last book club meeting, it was announced that the next book would be JPod by Douglas Coupland. My heart sunk. There are certain types of books that I just naturally avoid because, however clever they may be, they are just not my cup of tea. I was dreading having to plow through a book that just doesn't interest me.

I am here to tell you I was dead wrong.

(I am also here to tell you that I thought Douglas Coupland wrote The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. I was also dead wrong about that. That was Douglas Adams, not Douglas Coupland at all. Stoopid.)

(And while we're on the subject of the Hitchhiker's Guide, the movie of that book was possibly one of the worst movies I've ever seen. Gah! I can never get that time back...)

I went into this JPod experience completely fresh. (Obviously, since I thought Coupland was Adams...duh.) I have no idea if JPod is just an updated version of Microserfs, and frankly, I don't care. It was just plain good. No, great. In fact, I haven't has as much fun reading a book in...well, I can't really remember when.

The basic premise is that it's about the lives of six young video game programmers in BC who were all assigned to the same cubicle pod by an HR computer glitch - they all have names starting with the letter "J". Seing as they're all young and basically unnattached, they pretty much spend their lives at (or around) work. Except that they seem to do everything and anything under the sun OTHER than work. They play clever (read: nerdy) pranks on each other. They write descriptions of themselves as if they were going to sell themselves on Ebay. The write a love letter to Ronald McDonald because they figure he's lonely. They shun anyone who brings "The Taint" (McDonald's food) into the office. In otherwords, this is my kind of place to work. How many times have I been at work and wanted to kill someone who brought McDonald's fries back to their cubicle? I get these people. Which must mean that I am a nerd too. (Shock! Horrors!! How can life continue??).

What I found especially intriguing was the premise that many more people than you think are actually undiagnosed, highly-functioning autistics. All the members of JPod are highly technically adept, and yet are presumed to be mildly autistic . And no one is any the wiser. It really made me think. Thinking is good. (Not thinking = Bad.)

It was so refreshingly different, and yet so comfortably familiar, to read a book with topical references. I am so used to reading classical literature, historical romances and modern books from different cultures (my go-to reads) that this was a breath of fresh air. And I didn't even get all the jokes, methinks. There were a lot of math-y, computer-y little digs that I am assuming just went over my head. And yet I never felt like I was missing out.

However much I liked the book, I didn't think it was perfect. I didn't like Coupland inserting himself as a character in the book. I appreciated that he made himself seem like an evil a$$hole, but it still came off as kind of conceited and just a bit...lame. I also didn't like the pages of "spam" all that much. I get the effect Coupland was going for, but it seemed kind of pointless.

Still...I laughed out loud (a rarity for me). I forced Mr Earth to listen to countless little excerpts and (lame attempts) at retelling of sections. He is now required to read the book, because he knows I won't stop talking about it until I do. I wish I had watched the CBC show while it was on TV, because I just went to Amazon to order it, and it costs too much. I'm on a budget, people! Aren't Canadian shows supposed to be cheap??

Do you need more of a reccomendation? Cause I can come to your house and talk about it. Mr Earth would be relieved.


painted maypole said...

sounds good. might have to get it once I'm done with Fool (by Christopher Moore, which any Shakespeare loving person should read. Although it may not be your cup of tea)

Kyla said...

Sounds good!

What is the problem with McD's fries? I mean, other than the whole really-terrible-for-you bit.

metro mama said...

It is such a fun book, isn't it! You're right, it's gimmicky at times, but I can forgive it.

I just read his new book, coming this fall: Generation A. Loved it. I'll make sure you get a copy.

Mac and Cheese said...

I'm sold!

BTW, Hitchiker's is the only movie I've ever fallen asleep during while at a theatre. Loved the book though.

Beck said...

That does sound fun.
And Hitchhikers WAS a TERRIBLE MOVIE. I much prefer the BBC version with the $10 budget.

bren j. said...

I've never read the book but I will say I'm not overly fond of my 'J' last name. Mostly, because I really hate writing capital js. Or really small js for that matter.
I much preferred my H. :)

Woman in a Window said...

I was thinking meh, at the bigging of your post. Not for me. But you know what, I'm softening. So maybe. (I'm a slooooooooooooow reader and have just started something so maybe in 4-5 months.)

Mimi said...

Hm. I'm thinking of offering a graduate course in Coupland's books. But I still think his high point was Generation X. Okay, and I kinda liked All Families are Psychotic (esp. the line about astronauts being the black labs of the space program.) I also really liked Microserfs, and JPod, I fear, was no Microserfs.

Hm. I miss Douglas Adams ....