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The Gum Thief : A Novel by Douglas Coupland
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The Gum Thief : A Novel (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Douglas Coupland (Author)

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1,224366,513 (3.53)22
Member:ReneeGKC
Title:The Gum Thief : A Novel
Authors:Douglas Coupland (Author)
Info:New York, NY : Bloomsbury USA, 2008.
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:****1/2
Tags:first edition, ex-lib, swapped

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The Gum Thief: A Novel by Douglas Coupland (2007)

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» See also 22 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
This is probably a 3 1/2 to be fair..and I did find it enjoyable but at the same time it's a little defeatist and not written nearly as well or as insightful into humanity as Coupland has proven himself capable of. Still, I found some of these quotes memorable:


p. 85 "Or maybe memories are like karaoke-where you realize up on the stage, with all those lyrics scrawling across the screen's bottom, and with everybody clapping at you, that you didn't know even half the lyrics to your all-time favourite song. Only afterwards, when someone is up on stage humiliating themselves amid the clapping and laughing, do you realize that what you liked most about your favourite song was precisely your ignorance of its full meaning-and you read more into it than existed in the first place. I think it's better to not know the lyrics to your life."

p. 118 "..And then in the scrapbooking aisle, I see 79 cent sticker pads with little rainbows and unicorns that say DREAMS CAN COME TRUE! and it makes me want to cry the way we feed nonsense crap like this to kids, who are going to inherit a century of ugly wars started by people who died long ago, but who were sick and damaged enough to transmit their hatred down through the centuries. Dreams don't come true. Dreams die. Dreams get compromised. Dreams end up dealing meth in a booth at the back of the Olive Garden. Dreams choke to death on bay leaves. Dreams get spleen cancer."

p. 134 "...the sensation that grief is like a werewolf that moves into your house one day and never leaves, and every time you open a door or round a corner, it's there, lying in wait."

p.202 "It's as if to you, being alive is a prank that you're playing on the world."

p. 237 "They're like a John Cheever novel. Except it's set in hell."



( )
  kirstiecat | Mar 31, 2013 |
I suspect I read this at just the right time. The characters are not necessarily different from Coupland's other works. And yet, the novel buried in this novel is different from Coupland's other work. There is an absurdity there that doesn't exist in the main storyline (a basic plot of disaffected youth, middle-aged angst, and life at Staples).

But I think the real accomplishment here is the structure of the novel. We have a novel in diary form that also includes a novel in it. The fact that the characters in the diary-novel are just as compelling as the main characters is a testament to Coupland's skill. I was compelled by this book and find myself still contemplating the way it is put together. That may not excite some people, but as a writer I can't help but obsess over the structural marvel. This whole book could have fallen apart in the hands of a less skilled writer. ( )
  evanroskos | Mar 30, 2013 |
This is not a book to read when you vave even the slightest doubt about where your life is leading you. But so are none of Coup's.

I like the intricateness and conceit of ehe construction, and the quite funny parts. I'm rathers ill at ease with the existential despair, which rings all too familiar. ( )
  sparehed | Mar 30, 2013 |
My first Coupland and I really liked it. ( )
  ReneeGKC | Jan 7, 2013 |
Like all of Coupland's books I have read so far (Generation X, Microserfs, J-Pod, Generation A) he excels at engaging the reader in the dynamics of a disfunctional group of social misfits. The format of the characters writing to each other is interesting at first, particularly the relationship between Roger, Bethany and DeeDee. However, the issues of the characters and their development (and the novel Glove Pond) are less interesting than the literary riffing that Coupland indulges in. The book is more a game played with form than something which makes points about issues of modern culture and society. He does make these points, but he has made the same points in the same way before! ( )
  cyclismotron | Jan 2, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Douglas Coupland’s new novel, “The Gum Thief,” puts the act of writing center stage. The book is not conventionally narrated, but told obliquely, through an assemblage of writings and letters, from which the reader reconstructs the story like the pieces of an Ikea wardrobe.
 
This is a novel so postmodern that it has disappeared up its own irony and come out on the other side.

In anyone else's hands, it could read like an environmental treatise by Al Gore translated by a teenage dirtbag after 17 vodka Red Bulls. But Coupland's skill is in his love of the ridiculous, like a schoolboy whose words make him giggle. His books are essentially pointless. Maybe that's why they are such a guilty pleasure.
added by Nickelini | editthe Independent, Katy Guest (Oct 12, 2007)
 
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Epigraph
Q: Brother, are you headed home?
A: Brother, aren't we always headed home?
--Question used by Masons to identify themselves among strangers
Dedication
First words
A few years ago it dawned on me that everybody past a certain age -- regardless of how they look on the outside -- pretty much constantly dreams of being able to escape from their lives.
Quotations
"I'm no longer a child. It happened to me when I wasn't looking."
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307356280, Hardcover)

The first and only story of love and looming apocalypse set in the aisles of an office supply superstore.

In Douglas Coupland’s ingenious new novel–sort of a Clerks-meets-Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf–we meet Roger, a divorced, middle-aged “aisles associate” at a Staples outlet, condemned to restocking reams of twenty-lb. bond paper for the rest of his life. And then there’s Roger’s co-worker Bethany, who’s at the end of her Goth phase, and young enough to be looking at fifty more years of sorting the red pens from the blue in Aisle Six.

One day, Bethany comes across Roger’s notebook in the staff room. When she opens it up, she discovers that this old guy she’s never considered as quite human is writing mock diary entries pretending to be her–and spookily, he is getting her right. She also learns he has a tragedy in his past–and suddenly he no longer seems like just a paper-stocking robot with a name tag.

These two retail workers strike up a peculiar and touching epistolary relationship, their lives unfolding alongside Roger’s work-in-progress, the oddly titled Glove Pond, a Cheever-era novella gone horribly, horribly wrong. Through a complex layering of narratives, The Gum Thief, highlights number-one bestselling author Douglas Coupland’s eye for the comedy, loneliness and strange comforts of contemporary life.

On every page of this witty, wise and unforgettable novel, Coupland reminds us that love, death and eternal friendship can all transpire where we least expect them. And that even after tragedy seems to have wiped your human slate clean, stories can slowly rebuild you.



I’m the dead girl whose locker you spat on somewhere between recess and lunch.

I’m not really dead, but I dress like I want to be. There’s something generic about girls like me: we hate the sun, we wear black, and we feel trapped inside our bodies like a nylon fur mascot at a football game.

I wish I were dead most of the time. I can’t believe the meat I got stuck with, and where I got stuck and with whom. I wish I were a ghost.

And FYI, I’m not in school any more, but the spitting thing was real: a little moment that sums up life. I work in a Staples. I’m in charge of restocking aisles 2-North and 2-South: Sheet Protectors, Indexes & Dividers, Note books, Post-It Products, Paper Pads, Specialty Papers and “Social Stationery.” Do I hate this job? Are you nuts? Of course I hate it. How could you not hate it? Everyone who works with me is either already damaged or else they’re embryos waiting to be damaged, fresh out of school and slow as a 1999 modem. Just because you’ve been born and made it through high school doesn’t mean society can’t still abort you. Wake up.

Let me try to say something positive here. For balance.

Staples allows me to wear black lipstick to work.

–Bethany
from The GumThief

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:25:16 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Over the course of several months, two retail workers at an office supply superstore--Roger, a divorced, middle aged "aisles associate" at Staples, and his young co-worker, Bethany, an early twenty-something, former Goth--strike up a unique epistolary friendship.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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