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The Gum Thief : A Novel by Douglas Coupland

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

by Douglas Coupland (Author)

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1,317375,908 (3.56)32
Title:The Gum Thief : A Novel
Authors:Douglas Coupland (Author)
Info:New York, NY : Bloomsbury USA, 2008.
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:first edition, ex-lib, swapped

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The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland (2007)



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I’ve been hoping for a book like this. This is the kind of book I read for, as if I am fishing. Fishing for what, you ask? I’m not sure, but I know it when I see it and this is it. Here is a novel told simply, starkly, imaginatively and empathetically, with a good deal of humor and philosophy thrown in for good measure. You’d never guess how hard it is to find books like this. I am obviously late to the Douglas Coupland party, but at least I made it despite the horrible traffic.

Another thing: I know this book was vitamins to my soul because I never, not once, intentionally noted what page I was on as I was reading. You know those books—the ones that are just good enough to keep on with, but which are a solid chore to read.

That is not this book, at least not to me. This book is funny, smart and sad and it’s a breeze.

Thank you, Douglas Coupland.
( )
1 vote sixslug | Jan 18, 2015 |
This was my first look at Coupland. I was skeptical, and did find the opening a bit clunky, and then plodding. It reads like a lot of what's labelled Young Adult these days. (An observation, not a criticism, incidentally.) Without giving anything away, two of the letters near the end saved this, for me; probably because I identified with their authors more than the younger ones. I'm glad I read it, but won't be rushing to get my hands on more Coupland. ( )
  jlj | Sep 3, 2014 |
I really love stories that contain related woven stories. This one doesn't disappoint. It was a philosophy book on life that touched on many great subjects and made me laugh. The characters Coupland created were great (not lovable but fantastic in a messed up way). This is the type of book I'm always searching for to read but I only find perhaps once or twice a year. I have to thank Arianna for lending me this one... she always gives me good recommendations. ( )
  yougotamber | Aug 22, 2014 |
I am not generally a fan of epistolary novels, but this was ok. I liked J-Pod and Microserfs much better, but it was still good. It got a bit tiresome with the switching narratives, but worth finishing. ( )
  Djupstrom | Aug 20, 2014 |
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 |
Showing 1-5 of 37 (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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Q: Brother, are you headed home?
A: Brother, aren't we always headed home?
--Question used by Masons to identify themselves among strangers
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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.
"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.

from The GumThief

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:06:49 -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 4 descriptions

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