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City of Glass: Douglas Coupland's Vancouver (2000)

by Douglas Coupland

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249776,247 (3.86)18
This irresistible little book offers a very different take on Vancouver, one of the world's most beautiful cities. Douglas Coupland applies his unique sensibility to everything from the Grouse Grind to glass towers, First Nations to feng shui, Kitsilano to Cantonese. Cleverly designed to mimic an underground Japanese magazine, this edition is fully updated and revised with riffs on Vancouver as a neon city, a land of treehuggers, and more.… (more)

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» See also 18 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
Hmph. Coupland wrote and captured loving portraits of his country in 'Souvenir of Canada' and to a lesser extent in 'Souvenir of Canada 2' all the while avoiding the vapid treacleness implied by their titles.

'City of Glass' is not so fortunate. Between the pleasing design of the cover there is a scattered collection of vignettes that don't come together in any way to form a cohesive picture. 'Souvenir of Canada 2' showed signs of Coupland being tapped out, but nothing in 'City of Glass' rises above brochure.

Actually that's not true, two pieces, "My Hotel Year" and "Lions Gate", were quite good, but appeared in 'Life After God' and 'Polaroids from the Dead' already. I guess it says something of Coupland's love for Vancouver that he allows himself to shill for it.

There's nothing wrong with an author reusing his own work in another book, but I was just disappointed that he had run out of new things to say about a place that must mean so much to him. ( )
  ManWithAnAgenda | Feb 18, 2019 |
This is a must-read for anyone who loves Vancouver or is interested in the city.

It is a series of short essays on the aspects that Coupland thinks make Vancouver unique--the good and the bad--arranged in alphabetical order from "Backlot North" to "YVR" (the airport code). Included are lots of interesting and unusual pictures, many of them historical.

Of any writer I've come across yet, Coupland has the finest talent for capturing the exact feel of Vancouver. Perhaps I think that because we are around the same age and know a bunch of the same people. Still, Doug's Vancouver experience doesn't exactly mirror mine--maybe because he grew up in a different corner of the city than I, or perhaps because he's a male who had different interests. For example, I was completely unaware of the "ESL Pot Holiday," which is the experience of masses of Japanese and Korean students who are here under the cover of studying English, but instead just party in an "affordable, chaperone-free idyll before they enter Asia's corporate meat grinder." Not really a surprise, come to think about it, but new to me. Otherwise, I didn't learn a whole lot about my city, but instead enjoyed Coupland's witty observations and thoughtful perspective.

A quick, entertaining read.

As an aside, I find it amusing that LT's "Will You Like It?" feature predicted with high certainty that I wouldn't like this. I wonder where it got that idea! ( )
1 vote Nickelini | Dec 26, 2011 |
An update to the original City of Glass. A thoroughly enjoyable book about the city, but the updates were difficult to spot.
  rightantler | Feb 5, 2010 |
Vancouver is a puzzle of a city of disparate neighbourhoods and vistas. A Canadian city Americans use to depict countless US cities in their TV dramas. Is it unique or is it generic? It jumbles European, Canadian, Asian and American influences into a strange mix. Vancouverite Douglas Coupland's style is ideally suited to capture these divergent elements in vignettes.

The book is not a tour guide. To fully appreciate it, one probably has to have visited or lived in Vancouver. Then, one can compare one's recollections with Coupland's remarks and gaze at the pictures (often quirky private snapshots that would be weeded out in any professional endeavour). In alphabetic order, Coupland plunges into aspects of Vancouver, rambles, recollects, and explains with love and amusement. I am not sure if I know more about Vancouver having read his book, but it was an interesting ride and captures the flavour of the city well. ( )
1 vote jcbrunner | Sep 9, 2007 |
Just like Souvenir of Canada, this is essentially a photo book with Coupland explaining/commenting/reflecting about the images. Whereas some of the images are truly great, for me as a Coupland fan, it's the text that makes this book marvelous - a lot of the texts are truly poetic.

It is not a guide book, but I'd definitely call it recommended reading if you're going to Vancouver, as it highlights things you might otherwise miss.

Of his normal books, I'd say that it mostly resembles Photographs from the dead, and should be enjoyable to those who liked that one. ( )
1 vote pontusfreyhult | Aug 13, 2007 |
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