Coupland,The Gum Thief

I have to admit that I love Douglas Coupland books. He is a Canadian writer, who coined the term, Generation X, with his book of the same title. I feel like his small book, Life After God should be on Seminary book lists because of it’s treatment of postmodernity and religion. His books aren’t always especially awesome, but his treatment of stories is so remarkable I can never get away from them; the stories stay in my head forever.

I have made it a pilgrimage tradition to only buy Coupland novels at Powell’s when I am up there. And I prefer to buy them used. I try to be as hipster as possible to get the full experience. It’s an extra bonus because I never remember where the books are so I get to ask someone for help, and publicly identify myself as someone who is into an author the store clerk has never heard of. It’s a great chance to practice being self-righteous in a non-sinful setting.

The Gum Thief is about some people who are working retail, at a Staples, who develop an unlikely relationship. They write to each other in the break room, as they write and read a story that one of the characters is working on. The book itself is really unique as it goes back and forth between the story and real life – with the anticipated intermingling that every reader is expecting.

Here’s 2 long literary quotes to help you chose next time you are up at Powell’s:

  • p.23, “I think if human beings had genuine courage, they’d wear their costumes every day of the year, not just on Halloween…Who made the rule that everyone has to dress like sheep 364 days of the year? Think of all the people you’d meet if they were in costume every day. People would be so much easier to talk to – like talking to dogs. Hey cool costume! I dig vampires too.
  • p.192, “I have to add another way that Kyle is driving me nuts. He has a digital camera, and when he shoots something like a bridge or a thousand pigeons, he almost immediately scrolls through his pictures and looks back on what’s basically the present moment and treats it like it’s the distant past – even if the bridge or the pigeons are still right there. // At the end of the day, I’ll scroll through the day’s photos with him, and even on the camera’s dinky little screen the whole day comes back to me, which is unsurprising, but what is surprising are the background details I remember that I might never have remembered otherwise: an Evian truck blowing blue smoke; a woman walking three wiener dogs; a cloud shaped like a muffin. So imagine if you could scroll backwards and look at your whole life the same way. God only knows how many trillions of memories are stored inside us – memories we’ll never retrieve simply because we don’t have a device that allows us to browse them properly. With your mother, do you think the memories were still locked inside her and she couldn’t retrieve them? Or do you think the memories were simply gone? Is anyone’s existence only as good as their brain is at any given moment? And if so, what about the soul?”




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