Fiction and Poetry 3am Magazine Contact Links Submission Guidelines
Literature
Arts
Politics
Nonfiction
Music
Buzzwords logo

BUZZWORDS

PEDDLING MIND PORN TO THE
CHATTERING CLASSES SINCE 2000
by Andrew Gallix and Utahna Faith

email correspondence to andrew@3ammagazine.com

Buzzwords home
Copyright © 3:AM Magazine 2005
   BritLitBlogs.com

3:AM linkroll

Recently
  • STEWART HOME & JACK THE STRIPPER
  • SEE YOU ON MONDAY!
  • 3:AM TOP 5: THE ENFANT TERRIBLE
  • 3:AM TOP 5: TRAVIS JEPPESEN
  • NON-IDIOMATIC SOUNDSCAPES
  • 3:AM TOP 5: JAGZ KOONER
  • 3:AM TOP 5: DEAD DISCO
  • BETTIE PAGE IS A VERY NAUGHTY GIRL
  • PUNK WAS ALWAYS A LITTLE QUEER
  • 3:AM TOP 5: SOO CATWOMAN

  • complete archives:

    3:AM links
     Buzzwords 2000-O5
     3:AM MySpace
     3:AM Magazine Pix
     Ambit
     Arete
     Bad Idea
     The Barcelona Review
     The Believer
     Blatt
     Bookmunch
     BritLitBlogs
     The Chap
     Complete Review
     Daniel Battams Fan Club
     Dreams That Money Can Buy
     The Enthusiast
     Exquisite Corpse
     Falling Into Fancy Fragments
     Full Moon Empty Sportsbag
     Laura Hird
     Identity Theory
     The Idler
     KGBBarLit
     Litro
     McSweeney's
     MetaxuCafe
     Nerve
     n+1
     Nude Magazine
     Paris Bitter Hearts Pit
     Pornlit
     Pulp.net
     ReadySteadyBook
     Salon
     Slate
     Slow Toe
     Smoke
     Smokelong Quarterly
     Spike
     STML
     Strange Attractor
     SuicideGirls
     Swink
     Trebuchet
     Underneath the Bunker
     Wild Strawberries
     wood s lot
     Word Riot

    Recent tags

      [2.6.06] [Andrew Gallix]
    3:AM REVIEW: DOUGLAS COUPLAND'S JPod
    Susan Tomaselli wonders if Douglas Coupland's JPod is "great art meeting literature, or more zeitgeist junk":

    "Oh God. I feel like a refugee from a Douglas Coupland novel."

    For a while in the nineties Douglas Coupland, whether he liked it or not, was the voice of his generation: the lost generation, the baby busters, generation X. Hip and ironic, his Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture (1991) was to the Blank Generation what Allen Ginsberg's Howl was to the Beats -- a handbook for the "low pay, low status, low future" global youths. Mordant and overdosed with information, styled by Gap and working McJobs, Coupland was their poster boy of post-modern ennui. With Shampoo Planet, Life After God and Microserfs Coupland's work continued to strike a chord. Then things shifted up a gear: Coupland got depressed, grew a beard and produced a run of fine books (Girlfriend in a Coma, Hey Nostradamus!, Eleanor Rigby) which wiped the smirk of the faces of detractors who thought the author was finished when Kurt Cobain put a shotgun to his head. Life After God proclaimed: "You Are the First Generation Raised Without Religion". In JPod, a return to the veal cubicles explored in Microserfs, Douglas Coupland would like you to meet your new god: Google.

    The novel follows Ethan Jarlewski and five other JPodders, Zima drinkers working for a software company in Vancouver, brought together because their surnames start with J to work on BoardX, a "punk and funk" skateboarding turtle game. The group, not "so much idiots as they are fellow citizens in the thrall of various modes of persistent low-grade autism," have other ideas: minor corporate rebellion. They plan to insert "spokesmascot"-turned-evil Ronald McDonald into a children's game. The subplots -- sometimes cartoonish, sometimes horrific -- play nicely alongside that of Ethan and his co-workers, and there's some memorable Couplandesque characters in there: Ethan's mum, a cannabis grow op-er turned lesbian; Stephen, the JPodders' old boss, kidnapped and transported to China were he is reduced to a being a junk-dependent manual worker on a factory production line; a novelist called Douglas Coupland and inventor of Dglobe, the next must-have big thing. And towering over all the action is Google, the search engine that will define this decade: "God must feel that way all the time. I think people in the year 2020 are going to be nostalgic for the sensation of feeling clueless."

    At one point reluctant JPodder Kaitlin, sick of the inane prattle of her co-workers, says: "You feel chilled because you have no character. You're a depressing assemblage of pop culture influences and cancelled emotions, driven by the sputtering engine of only the most banal form of capitalism. You spend your life feeling as if you're perpetually on the brink of being obsolete -- whether it's labour market obsolescence or cultural unhipness. And it's all catching up with you."

    Between Generation X and now, there has been a glut of pop culture commentators, but none as good a curator as Douglas Coupland. JPod is Coupland bringing it all back home, taking back what's his. 8,363 prime numbers between 10,000 and 100,000, the first hundred thousand digits of pi, the references to Sudoku, Tom Hanks, Aaron Spelling, Lot 49, Lego, The Simpsons, Scrabble, spam ("Clarify values but remember, a million times nothing is still nothing. People say that everyone can be a success, but you look at the numbers and no, the world is way more about failure and compromised standards than it is about winning. TV and the Internet are good because they keep stupid people from spending too much time out in public. A decade of cat food is 3,652 cans. Sometime when you're all alone in a room, ask yourself if what you do for a living can be done by someone in India."), slogans, computer instructions. Depending on your viewpoint, JPod is either a case of great art meeting literature, or more zeitgeist junk. Either way, it's very Douglas: crisp, dark, very funny and, though not as urgent as those earlier ground-breaking books, far from obsolete.

    ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
    Susan Tomaselli lives in Ireland, and edits the inimitable dogmatika.

    [permalink] | [0 comments]



    fiction and poetry | literature | arts | politics | music | nonfiction
    links | offers | contact | guidelines | advertise | webmasters

    Copyright © 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 3 AM Publishing. All Rights Reserved.