Hot Read: No More Skirting Around This One

jpod.jpgIt’s not always love at first sight. As a regular book browser, sometimes I see a book and don’t think much about it. Just passes me by. Then, maybe a week later, I see it again and give it some passive attention. Perhaps a week or more will pass and, there again, it pops up. Why don’t I pick that thing up and see what it’s all about? Eventually, I’ll stop dancing around these books and often they’ll be among the most interesting titles I’ll read in a given year. I did this with Mike Perry’s gem. Between the first time I saw that book and the moment I started reading it several months had passed. What was I thinking waiting even a day?

Here’s another book I have been keeping an eye on: JPod by Douglas Coupland.

Coupland, a novelist who has also written Generation X, Microserfs, All Families Are Psychotic, and Hey Nostradamus!, comes highly regarded. “No one has Coupland’s ability to spot cultural outliers the little gems of nonsense that can both jar you and impart joy,” writes Slate.com. “Coupland is his generation’s most interesting curator.”

So I finally gave the book a thorough look-over this week. Here’s a quickie synopsis:

Ethan Jarlewski and five co-workers are bureaucratically marooned in JPod, a no-escape architectural limbo on the fringes of a massive Vancouver video game design company.

The six JPodders wage daily battle against the demands of a boneheaded marketing staff, which daily tortures employees with idiotic changes to already idiotic games. Meanwhile, Ethan’s personal life is shaped (or twisted) by phenomena as disparate as Hollywood, marijuana grow-ops, people-smuggling, ballroom dancing, and the rise of China.

JPod’s universe is amoral and shameless — and dizzyingly fast-paced. The characters are products of their era even as they’re creating it. Everybody in Ethan’s life inhabits a moral grey zone. Nobody is exempt, not even his seemingly straitlaced parents or Coupland himself. Full of word games, visual jokes, and sideways jabs, this book throws a sharp, pointed lawn dart into the heart of contemporary life.

People really seem to be taking to this book. Says the Los Angeles Times: “The perfect vehicle for [Coupland’s] funny and poignant evocations of near-term nostalgia … there is brilliance at work in JPod.”

OK, OK. No more hedging around! I’ll add it to my reading list.

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