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Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland

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I couldn’t finish this book. Really, I just couldn’t. Somewhere around page 150 I flicked forwards and saw more of the same and I just could not be bothered. I’ve read every one of Coupland’s previous novels. That’s 14/15 of ’em? And whilst he is, I think, inconsistent, he has long been someone who I will always always read. Of course it’s all subjective, but, for me, when he gets it right he’s not just spot on and zeitgeisty, he’s also a writer of depth. My favourite novel of his is Hey Nostradamus! Worst. Person. Ever is definitely my least favourite. It is, apparently, “written to be funny. That’s all it’s about. It’s not going to give you special meaning about the universe.” which is fine and dandy, as long as it can sustain the humour. 

It’s written from the perspective of Raymond Gunt (ooh, look, I nearly wrote Cunt) an unemployed camera man who agrees to shoot a Survivor type show in Kiribati. His despised ex-wife is his boss. He hires a homeless man to be his assistant as he has nobody else he can ask. He’s friendless, penniless, without morals, misogynistic, and chock full of all kinds of hate. 

It started well I thought, taking me by surprise with the hilariously descriptive line:

There I was, at home in West London, just trying to live as best I could – karma, karma, karma, sunshine and lightness! – when, out of nowhere, the universe delivered unto me a searing hot kebab of vasectomy leftovers drizzled in donkey jizz.

But x amount of pages of the same unrelenting, shockingly rude for the sake of being shockingly rude, prose becomes quickly tiresome. Gunt seemingly abuses an obese fellow plane passenger to death. He lusts after women in the basest of terms. He gets into trouble. He’s rude. Again. And then again. 

There are still some familiar Coupland moments. He describes a waitress as having “…her mind full of pseudonews” – that babble of 24 hours news streaming. He provides wry footnotes. He does write some bitingly funny lines. However, the novel read to me like a writing exercise: Write the most obnoxious character you can think of.  The hideous sexism was hard to cope with, even if it is meant to be ironic, it’s still hate. Ultimately though, the book bored me. Shame. 

 

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6 responses »

  1. On the basis of this review and others across the net, probably give this one a miss. Like you say, shame.

    Reply
  2. Sara, I enjoyed this. After being warned off of it by Pete Wild and thinking the first 50 pages were a joke, I kept going. I think it was a present to himself in the way that Breakfast of Champions was to Vonnegut and Lunar Park was to Ellis… just seeing how far you could go regardless of your readers… It was a boys’ book, though and I do prefer the majority of his other novels. I want to read his biography of McLuhan but can’t find it anywhere to buy.

    Reply
    • Yes, it does seem it “was a present to himself” – and he’s earned the right to be self indulgent, but I didn’t enjoy it. Glad you did though.

      I can check out availability of the McLuhan bio next time I’m at work if you like?

      Reply
  3. Coupland’s book (worst person ever) is really beginning to write like author Christopher Moore (who is the real deal by the way…you can actually email him and he responds)
    Moore is also not into “pulp fiction” which is where Coupland is heading…$$$$

    Reply
  4. Steve, sorry, but I checked and it seems the paperback was cancelled and the hardback is out of print.

    Reply

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