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Miss Wyoming: A Novel Hardcover – December 28, 1999


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Pantheon; 1st edition (December 28, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375407340
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375407345
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,986,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The eponymous heroine of Miss Wyoming is one Susan Colgate, a teen beauty queen and low-rent soap actress. Dragooned into show business by her demonically pushy, hillbilly mother, Susan has hit rock bottom by the time Douglas Coupland's seventh book begins. But when she finds herself the sole survivor of an airplane crash, this "low-grade onboard celebrity" takes the opportunity to start all over again:
She felt like a ghost. She tried to find her bodily remains there in the wreckage and was unable to do so.... Then she was lost in a crowd of local onlookers and trucks, parping sirens and ambulances. She picked her way out of the melee and found a newly paved suburban road that she followed away from the wreck into the folds of a housing development. She had survived, and now she needed sanctuary and silence.
She's not, of course, the only Hollywood burnout who'd like to vanish into thin air. Her opposite number, a producer of big-budget, no-brainer action flicks named John Johnson, stages a similar disappearing act. After a near-death experience, in the course of which he is treated to a vision of Susan's face, he roams the western badlands. And even after his return to L.A., Johnson is determined to unravel the mystery of this woman's fate.

Throughout, Coupland displays his usual gift for capturing the absurdities of modern existence. The distinctive minutiae of our age--junk mail and fast food, sitcoms and Singapore slings, and the "shop fronts bigger and brighter and more powerful than they needed to be"--come to vivid, funny life in this author's hands. And while Susan and John occupy center stage, Coupland is just as generous with his peripheral characters. A scriptwriter and his supernaturally intelligent girlfriend, a recluse who spends his evening generating Internet rumours--all manage to be blessed and cursed, numbed by their pointless existences but full of humanity when put to the test. Picture Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut collaborating on a Tinseltown version of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and you come halfway to grasping Coupland's brand of thoughtful, supremely funny storytelling. --Matthew Baylis

From Publishers Weekly

Since Generation X, Coupland has been read more for his trend-setting insights than his novelistic dexterity. In his sixth novel, however, he loses even that edge by jumping on the already tired beauty-pageant-bashing bandwagon. Susan Colgate's mother, Marilyn, is a viciously competitive stage mom who micromanages Susan into teen stardom as Miss Wyoming. But Susan revolts against maternal pressure by dramatically refusing the Miss USA Teen crown, and independently makes her way to Hollywood, where she enjoys her 15 minutes of fame on an '80s sitcom, Meet the Blooms. Her career sliding downhill after that, she goes to New York for an audition; on the way back to L.A., the plane crashes. Thrown clear of the wreckage, Susan survives unscathed, but she allows the world to think that she is dead. Later, she claims she had amnesia, but in reality, she shacked up with a former beauty pageant judge and had a baby. Now 28, Susan has kept the child secret, but her mother eventually intuits its existence. Susan feels she is washed up at 28, until she meets John Johnson, once a powerful hit-making Hollywood producer, who gave away all his possessions and literally walked away from Hollywood, living like a tramp for six months. Now John is baby-stepping back into the real world, supported by his business partner, Ivan. Meeting Susan, he recognizes her as the face he saw in a fever hallucination just before his walkabout. But on the eve of their second date, Susan disappears, so he, another Colgate fan and the fan's unbelievably smart girlfriend search for Susan and her secret child. Coupland's writing is frustratingly uneven, sometimes deftly jokey, other times hopelessly muddled ("her body was mechanically deboned with relief") and his characters, for all their spiritual crises, are about as introspective as cell phones. The plot twists satisfyingly in several places, but in general, Coupland should leave the star-crossed celeb genre to Judith Krantz. 60,000 first printing; 8-city author tour. (Jan.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

This is the third and hands down the best of Douglas Coupland's books I have read.
Theresa Mcdonald
The characters are quirky and largely well rendered, but the story meanandered a little too much for me and at times seemed a trifle sentimental.
Timothy Boroughs
Great characters..you can really visualise them...twists and turns in the story....a romance?
Wetchua

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Douglas Coupland is the writer whose book, Generation X, was so smart, hip and slightly disillusioned that it coined a phrase to describe a generation of smart, hip and slightly disillusioned Americans.
This book, Miss Wyoming, follows the parallel stories of Susan Colgate and John Lodge Johnson and encompasses everything from the American beauty pageant culture to near death experiences.
Susan Colgate is a former pageant "work horse" and low-budget television star. Typical of pageant hopefuls and television aspirants, she embodies a surgically-enhanced, plastic kind of unnaturally-endowed beauty and, as would be expected, her life unfolds much like a trite and manipulative soap storyline. One racing toward a definitely unhappy end.
Susan, however, is a survivor. She has survived a manipulative and grasping stage mother, a plane crash in which she was the only survivor, and a year in which she "went along" with the story of her own apparent death.
John's life hasn't been a whole lot better. The son of a downwardly-mobile and rapidly-fading socialite and her constantly-disappearing husband, John endured a childhood filled with endless illness and depression only to come into his own as a successful maker of films.
Success for John, though, is narrowly defined and means the constant ricochet from one stimulus-induced high to another. For John, the bigger the high, the more thrilling the thrill, and no amount of money is too much to spend.
His "thrilling" lifestyle, however, comes to an abrupt crash landing when he falls prey to a particularly virulent virus and experiences an astral projection, the likes of which he has previously only dreamed.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Harbick on January 25, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Though not my favorite Coupland (Life After God), I enjoyed Miss Wyoming every bit as much as I've enjoyed all of his other works. If you get nothing else out of his works, you get rich characters and an almost philosophical look at meaning in life. In addition, Miss Wyoming is a great love story. As you read it, you sympathize with the characters to the point that you feel anxiety and love as if you were them. You understand John Johnson's lovesickness and why he can't sleep or eat. You crave resolution. You want John to be able to express everything he feels for Susan. You want the happy ending. You desire the only thing that seems to bring a sense of meaning to the lives on the characters in the book. Miss Wyoming is a gripping book that is hard to put down and at the same time it is a cerebral book that asks the tough questions about life. Thoroughly enjoyable.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Douglas Page on December 31, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Get this book, and put it in the hands of people who have never read Coupland's work.
I think Coupland has found a great balance between character and plot in this novel. The characters in this book are interesting, engaging, and feel realistic. The dramatic tension from the different story threads moving back and forth in time worked well, I couldn't wait to get back to each thread.
In some of Coupland's earlier books I liked the style and fresh point of view more than the story. In Miss Wyoming the style serves to propel the story, the story stands on its own. Read it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Tom Flynn on February 29, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Whereas Coupland's other books relied much less on narrative, and much more on observations of modern life (with the possible exception of 'Girlfriend...'), this is a novel, pure and unadulterated.
Is this a good or bad thing? Well, both. Coupland, judging from his back catalogue (all of which I have read), is the supreme master of observing people, places, things, events, time periods and societies. Well, after his last two books, he can add novels to that list too!
Both this and 'Girlfriend...' are superb books, with a strong, funny narrative. Going through all his books, you can actually see his writing style mature from the (dare I say it?) slight over-indulgence of Microserfs and Generation X to the disembodied despair of 'Life after God' (my personal favourite), from his first attempt at a novel, Shampoo Planet (which was simply an observing-style book disguised as a novel) and finally to Miss Wyoming, a brilliant, funny, thoughtful book, with very few problems, other than his departure of style.
If you need any more recommendation, consider this: I saw this book in a bookshop, and bought it, there and then, on the strength of his reputation, and not once have I regretted it.
The biggest problem is that the edition I have, which has a different cover to Amazon's one, looks a bit like one of those paperbacks for women, about women, by women with names like Penny and Shirley. Oh well!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Kappesser on January 30, 2000
Format: Hardcover
In the past Douglas Coupland's books have felt more like collections of pithy observations and good story ideas than like finished works. Miss Wyoming is the first of Coupland's books that feels like a finished narritive. The book still has the extremely funny bits and mournful tone of Coupland's previous work, but is finally free from the author's habit of continually interrupting his story to insert some tangential observation.
Overall, this book is a big improvement from Coupland's previous efforts.
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