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JPod by [Coupland, Douglas]
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JPod Kindle Edition

3.2 out of 5 stars 97 customer reviews

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Length: 466 pages Word Wise: Enabled

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Editorial Reviews Review

Already dubbed Microserfs 2.0 by some pundits--a winking allusion to Douglas Coupland's previous novel Microserfs, which similarly chronicled pop-culture-damaged twentysomething misfits flailing, foundering, and occasionally succeeding in the high-tech sector--JPod is, like all of Coupland's novels, a byproduct of its era and yet strangely detached from it. Only this time with a bold and very crafty narrative device: Douglas Coupland, novelist, is a character in Douglas Coupland's novel. Which, when you think about it, makes sense since the type of people Coupland depicts are precisely the type of people who consume Coupland novels. As the once-great comedian Dennis Miller might holler, "Stop him before he sub-references again!" Readers familiar with Coupland's oeuvre know what to expect with the characterizations here. They also know that Coupland on a roll is both savagely observant and laugh-out-loud funny: "Bree was showing someone photos of her recent holiday visiting Korean animation sweathshops. She was bummed because she couldn't get into North Korea: too much legal juju. [She said] 'I just wanted to know what it's like to be in a society with no technology except for three dial telephones and a TV camera they won from Fidel Castro in a game of rock paper scissors.'" Much of the book is like that, built on granular and meandering exchanges between characters about . . . stuff. While JPod's flow is hobbled by some preposterous twists and character traits and by random words, phrases, and numbers splattered gratuitously across successive pages in oversized typeface, it's hard to imagine Coupland fans walking away disappointed. --Kim Hughes

From Publishers Weekly

Coupland returns, knowingly, to mine the dot-com territory of Microserfs (1996)—this time for slapstick. Young Ethan Jarlewski works long hours as a video-game developer in Vancouver, surfing the Internet for gore sites and having random conversations with co-workers on JPod, the cubicle hive where he works, where everyone's last name begins with J. Before Ethan can please the bosses and the marketing department (they want a turtle, based on a reality TV host, inserted into the game Ethan's been working on for months) or win the heart of co-worker Kaitlin, Ethan must help his mom bury a biker she's electrocuted in the family basement which houses her marijuana farm; give his dad, an actor desperately longing for a speaking part, yet another pep talk; feed the 20 illegal Chinese immigrants his brother has temporarily stored in Ethan's apartment; and pass downtime by trying to find a wrong digit in the first 100,000 places (printed on pages 383–406) of pi. Coupland's cultural name-dropping is predictable (Ikea, the Drudge Report, etc.), as is the device of bringing in a fictional Douglas Coupland to save Ethan's day more than once. But like an ace computer coder loaded up on junk food at 4 a.m., Coupland derives his satirical, spirited humor's energy from the silly, strung-together plot and thin characters. Call it Microserfs 2.0. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

  • File Size: 7395 KB
  • Print Length: 466 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1596911050
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; 1 edition (December 10, 2008)
  • Publication Date: December 10, 2008
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B002UM5C04
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #470,445 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
You just never know with Coupland, do you? Sometimes it is simply magnificent (Hey Nostradamus! Life after God) or at least sweet and moving (Shampoo Planet); sometimes it is a downright failure (Girlfriend in a Coma; All families are psychotic); and sometimes you get something in between, something that is very clever and entertaining and post-postmodern and selfconsciously self-deprecatory - and yet, the moment you turn the final page ("play again? y/n") you forget all about it (JPod). Maybe the forgettability was intentional in this novel about geeks who work in game development and who are obsessed with futile details and highly transitory, pointless hypes. The plot is way over the top and clearly not meant to be taken seriously, nor are we for a moment expected to believe (I hope) that any of these people might actually exist. We get (**spoilers**) a weed-growing mom who kills and turns lesbian; a sinister Asian man-smuggler who's only interested in 'making people happy'; an autistic teamleader who turns heroine addict and thus finds happiness; a dyke called freedom (no capital f) who turns into a bimbo called Kimberly; Coupland himself as Deus ex machina; and an outing to China thrown in for good measure. Coincidences abound and the point of all the frantic plot twists remains a mystery. Unless the point is the deconstruction of the novel as such.

There are several good laughs in JPod, and you won't be bored. The book however lacks the memorable observations and oneliners found in other, better Coupland works, such as Generation X. JPod is simply too facile - it takes a little more than quoting computerbabble, product packages, and internet-vernacular to be a chronicler of our times.
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Format: Hardcover
I have been a huge Coupland fan since I ran across a copy of Life After God at a Coles close-out sale in 1995. He used to write in a way that touched something deep and personal in me, yet which felt universal at the same time. I didn't mind that he was speaking for my generation (though I'm slightly younger than dictionary-definition "generation x"), because he did it so deftly and accurately. I have gone out of my way to see him read on pretty much every occasion that he's come to Toronto since 1995, and he definitely influenced not just my own writing, art, etc., but my own consciousness; my feelings of awareness and connectedness to my extended peer group.

Since...hmm...well, Miss Wyoming was maybe the beginning of the slide, but *definitely* since All Families are Psychotic, Coupland has basically been performing the literary equivalent of a face-first downhill slide. He's almost completely stopped caring about any of his characters' inner lives. He's stopped bothering to develop his characters' personalities or relationships with each other. The larger themes he used to explore so well - defining and exploring personal responsibility and morality in a postmodern world, lonliness and isolation, searching for meaning as a generation raised without religion - are completely gone.

I'm all for artists' development over time. I think it's great when a band like REM or an artist like Elvis Costello keeps looking inside themselves to see what's next, what's interesting for them to pursue. But I HATE when artists get lazy and start using the bare-bones premises of their style to churn out predictable, empty and vapid copies based on work that once showed sincerity and ingenuity.
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Format: Hardcover
Is it possible that Douglas Coupland fancies himself the next iteration of John Updike? With the release of JPOD, Coupland delivers what could be considered the second book in a series modeled, however loosely, on Updike's renowned Rabbit Angstrom novels. Updike explored the cultural milieu of four decades in his teratology centered on a single character. Coupland's approach is slightly different, but his intention appears similar.

A look at the cover of JPOD, which features six Lego people, immediately calls to mind Coupland's 1996 novel MICROSERFS, which also sported a Lego figure on the cover. Both novels explore the lives of computer coders searching for meaning, and each does so in the very time-specific context of its moment. Indeed, the characters in JPOD explicitly sneer at many of the cultural cues that formed the backdrop of MICROSERFS.

Sneering might well be an apt description of the tone of JPOD, and that's a change from the more earnest feel of the earlier book. Coupland's latest is black comedy to be sure, but its heavily satiric style results in something of a backlash aimed at the very generation the author named with 1991's GENERATION X. Neither Coupland the author nor Coupland the character --- and he is a key and evil character in JPOD --- seems very fond of Xers.

In fact, the novel's narrator, Ethan Jarlewski, finds himself in a particularly combative relationship with Coupland, though that's hardly Ethan's only problem. He and the other jPodders, so named because all the members of this game design team have last names beginning with "j," spend their days trying to thwart the stupidity of their company's higher-ups.
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