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The Gum Thief

3.49 of 5 stars 3.49  ·  rating details  ·  7,902 ratings  ·  602 reviews
One day, Bethany discovers Roger's notebook in the staff room. When she opens it up, she finds that this old guy who she's never considered to be quite human is writing mock diary entries pretending to be her - and spookily, he is getting her right.
Paperback, 275 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (first published 2007)
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Jan 17, 2009 Michelle rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Michelle by: Deleted Member
Shelves: novels
When are Otis & Co. going to implement half stars? Because I'd like to give this book four and a half stars.

I loved this book. It's not often that a book makes me laugh out loud, and this book consistently made me laugh out loud. Peals of laughter. Giggles. Cackles, even. I’m not exaggerating.

It’s also very sad, sweet, and affecting all at the same time. I love books wherein the characters ruminate. I get most of my own ruminating done in the shower, but these characters do it on paper in a
This is a stupid book.

This is one of the more aggravatingly bad books that I've read in some time.

Here's reasons why this book is of poor quality.

1. Completely unlikable characters.

The book centers around a forty-year-old losery guy and a twenty-four year old shrill goth girl. Those are red flags, I know, but it's not their external appearances that make these characters unlikable but rather their voice, their way of telling their respective stories. First off, both Roger and Bethany come acros
If there ever was a time to write a review for The Gum Thief, it’s in the middle of the night when your back hurts and the walls close in on you and your mind won’t stop rushing until you imagine a Buddhist monk opening a little door in your head, peeking in, and saying, “No enlightenment for this one! His mind won’t slow down! In fact let me move away from him as fast as possible.”

This novel revolves around a loser everyman who, after a series of family tragedies and dumbass decisions, finds hi
Jun 29, 2009 Shelly rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who like good ficiton. not for dorks with no sense of humor.
Recommended to Shelly by: David, Boobs, and RA via positive reviews.
Ingenious. Clever. Heartwarming. I liked it. I liked it a lawt. I don't want to waste your time or the tiny bit of brain power I have going right now with a plot synopsis, and anyway this book has been reviewed on GR a bunch (and there are some good ones out there)so you can read more about what it's about elsewhere. But I do wanna say that, for me, the book's got a strong Seinfeldy/Larry David vibe. There's tons of general observations about everyday nothingness that evolve into epiphanies abou ...more
Bob Redmond
This unassuming book is a tour-de-force. Filled with stories-within-stories and other postmodern devices that should be annoying, the novel is eminently readable and surprising in its embrace of humanity and cynicism all at once.

Without mythologizing the quotidian, i.e. making our scummy human life seem romantic, and without dosing the whole enterprise with irony, Coupland manages to make something at once depressing and redeeming. For the first time in ages, I actually stopped reading the book
Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography []. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

Like many writers of critical reviews, I too sometimes think about the idea of one day penning an entire book-long series of essays about a particular artist -- and of all the artists in history that now exist, the one I'm perhaps most qualified at this point to write an entire critical book about wou
I love, and I mean LOVE, Douglas Coupland. There will always be a special place for him in my heart because he brought me clarity and a new life belief system in the form of Generation X. But sometimes he really pisses me off. This is one of those times. I read this book last week and have forgotten it already. This is not a good sign. Plus, as my good friend Katie pointed out, he likes to test me. There are two things I hate this this world; racism and chewed up bubble gum. So why why why would ...more
Fall TV's big trend seems to involve people with pathetic, losery jobs at soulless chain stores (Chuck, which is so far getting a tentative thumbs up from me, and Reaper, which I'm giving a big thumbs down). Coupland, as usual, is ahead (or at least on top) of the trend, with his latest novel being set at Staples, and following two employees—the older, divorced Roger and young goth Bethany—as they write letters to each other, following Bethany's discovery of Roger's diary. This is interspersed w ...more
This book is comprised of letters between employees at a Staples; Roger, the older guy & Bethany the goth teenager. They write to each other in a notebook that also includes Roger's attempts at a first novel, a book called Glove Pond. Said Glove Pond is pretty spectacular & I can open almost any page in this entire book at random & hit some wonderful, lovely writing like, "I want it to look like I taste like almond paste," (which, coincidentally, was exactly what I wanted when I was ...more

La parola più corretta per definire questo libro e’ BUFFET….
E’ un buffet di emozioni, di esperienze di vita, di amicizia, di dolore, tanto che lo stesso autore definisce la vita, la vita dei protagonisti, ma non solo, UN RICCO BUFFET DI ESPERIENZA…
Come dargli torto.
Il libro di Coupland è particolare, ogni persona che lo leggerà ne trarrà emozioni diverse, in base all’età, alle proprie esperienze di vita, ai propri successi e insuccessi, insomma ce n’è per tutti i gusti e colori
Darin Strachan
I became a fan of Douglas Coupland's writing after I checked out Generation X from the library when I was in high school. I've read a number of his books and his one, The Gum Thief is one of my favorites, along with Generation X and Life After God. Most Coupland novels are full of unrealistic plot twists that somehow bind the characters. This book is more straightforward and realistic in its storyline. The novel is told through letters and writing samples that the characters share. And while it ...more
Lady Ethereal Butterfly
The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland was a novel that I knew I needed to read as soon as I found out that it was set in a Staples office supply store. The unusual setting called out to me, and I was well rewarded for listening. I was impressed with how captivating and exciting the author made Staples turn out to be! I loved the unique, but easy to relate to characters. Their thoughts and dialogue often left me laughing out loud. I could genuinely sympathize with the characters and their situations ...more
There's a certain predictability to a Douglas Coupland novel. It's kind of like reading Vonnegut, or watching an episode of Law and Order. You know what you're going to get.

Not much of a break from form on this novel - the typical zeitgeist shennanigans we've come to expect, the typically depressed teenager, the chapters divided by character. A lot of it felt a little formulaic, but at the same time, it's kind of like putting on an old, comfortable sweater.

The story is one of despair at the loca
За что я так люблю рулетку – так это за возможность познакомиться с теми книгами, о которых я даже не слышала, а даже если и слышала, то вряд ли взяла бы в руки. Как оно обычно бывает: всегда найдутся книги заманчивее и интереснее, чем какой-то доселе неизвестный автор. Несколько лет назад Коупленд пролился на меня дождем несколькостраничного рассуждалова под названием «Жизнь после Бога», и после очередного впадения в сонную кому он был отставлен в сторону до лучших времен. Был у меня такой дико ...more
Just a warning: I haven't reviewed things much so I apoligies in advance if this review is awful.

Recommended and lent to me by my sister. I now realise why she told me to read this book.

I was into this book the moment I started reading it. From the begining it gets you thinking about your own life and there's plenty of moments in this book that you can relate to yourself. It had me thinking more and more about how I'm getting older and doing nothing with my life, that if I don't do something ab
Mar 10, 2009 Maria rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: cualquiera que le guste leer
Shelves: biblioteca
estupendo libro, aunque he de decir que conmigo Coupland lo tiene fácil porque me gusta casi siempre. Algunos dicen que siempre escribe de lo mismo, y que a veces parece un stand-up comedian, y yo no solo lo confirmo sino que confieso que me encanta. Me río y emociono en un mismo párrafo y esa lucha entre estar deprimido y superfelizdelamuerte que viven todos sus personajes la encuentro de lo más real.
Every time I finish a Coupland novel I think to myself "Amy, you have to make something of your life or you will die unhappy." I enjoyed this book but after I read the last page I had to lay down and think the same sad thing I always think. Thanks for spurring me on, Douglas Coupland, you miserable bastard.
Anna [Floanne]
Onestamente non mi è piaciuto per niente. C'è veramente troppo cinismo in queste pagine per riuscire a digerirlo e per appassionarmi anche in piccola parte alle vicende (disgrazie?) di Roger e Bethany. Lui, quarantenne divorziato, alcolista, perdente ma con un sogno nel cassetto: pubblicare il suo libro "Lo stagno nel guanto". (delirante libro nel libro, che per assurdo, mi è piaciuto quasi più della storia principale, il che la dice lunga...). Lei, ventenne ma già disillusa da una vita che non ...more
Give me back my precious time, Douglas Coupland!! I like your books, esp. Hey, Nostradamus, but this was too "experimental" for my taste. It had its high points, like that funny thing about that middle-aged man, Roger, pretending to be the teenaged Goth, Bethany, in a diary THAT SHE OF COURSE FOUND OUT ABOUT, and that genius inclusion of a chapter-by-chapter progress of the novel, Glove Pond, Roger was writing, that (in)coincidentally reflects the flow of the main story, but it had more low poin ...more
Dopo aver letto Jpod, un po' mi ero già rassegnato al fatto che il Coupland di "Hey Nostradamus!", "Girlfriend In a Coma" o anche "Eleanor Rigby" fosse ormai un ricordo del passato.
"The Gum Thief" non mi avrà fatto cambiare opinione in proposito, ma in compenso mi ha fatto ridere, anzi riderissimo.
È la storia dell'amicizia improbabile che nasce sul posto di lavoro (Staples, un grande magazzino di articoli di cartoleria e per ufficio) tra un quarantenne disilluso, depresso e con un bagaglio non i
Unlike the other Coupland books I have read, in this one I was saying "No, no, no" while reading the first chapters. I did not like, or understand, or even believe in Roger, the main character. Once Bethany gets her voice and things develop there are sparks of Coupland's ability to paint the grey boring parts of our society in a sharp contrast, and make us smile at them. But it is only in parts.

It does not help that I did not like the "meta-novel" he interweaves with the main narrative, both in
The Gum Thief initially seems to be about what all of Canadian writer Douglas Coupland's other books are about: lives of quite desperation and absurdity that is modern living.

It is thus refreshing when you discover that thus book juts might be an examination of the act of writing itself. A a series of diary entries, letters, and even installements of a novel-within-a-novel, it all begins when Roger, a divorced, alcoholic middle aged worker on the fars track to nowhere at staionery store Staples,
Jan 11, 2008 Sara rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: recovering goths, aspiring novelists, disgruntled big-box retail store employees
Douglas Coupland is one of my favorite authors of all time. I've loved every single one of his books and have always been thrilled when he comes out with a new one to see that he is not slipping or falling into a gimmick à la recent Palahniuk (yeah, I said it). his style always seems fresh to me, and he always seems to have an unflinchingly clear understanding of the world he's writing about.

The Gum Thief, though, disappointed me a teensy bit. Coupland's style is still fresh -- no schtick here,
Tulpesh Patel
Written as a series of letters between two employees at a Staples stationary outlet (and later various members of their friends and families), this is a story of one man's battle with himself and his mid-life crisis and a young goth finding out who she is under all her make up.

It's touching and clever as the beginning of the book unfolds as letters between the two main characters, but the novel falls apart as more and more letters are flying around in order to incorporate more characters in to t
From hilarious to hilariously tragic to just plain tragic, The Gum Thief is a remarkable book about the disasters known as human beings. Witty, raw, and intense, it is a coming of age novel for the young, the middle-aged, and the hopeless. A wonderful social commentary with so much to say that I’m sure everyone out there will be able to walk away from this book having learned something.

Roger teaches us that not every average Joe is an average Joe –they’re people too, with tragedies and mistakes
Though not one of Coupland's best, still an engaging, beautiful, thought provoking novel. Coupland explores the interior world of two unlikely friends and fellow Staples employees via the letters they write to one another. The book's overarching, and wonderfully executed, questions are:
1) What does it mean to be human?
2) Can humans ever truly change, especially in an age in which we have lost faith in an apocalypse that could project meaning back on life's seemingly unrelated events?
The novel's
Voula  Michela (otl1987)
My first Douglas Coupland. The plot is simple. Two very different people start corresponding through a notebook.
"Roger, a divorced, middle-aged "aisles associate" at Staples, condemned to restocking reams of 20-lb. bond paper for the rest of his life. And Roger's co-worker Bethany, in her early twenties and at the end of her Goth phase, who is looking at fifty more years of sorting the red pens from the blue in aisle 6."
As they write to one another, they start to reveal personal stories and exp
Nov 10, 2007 Catherine rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: office supply store workers, metafiction junkies, and those who have lost hope
I had high hopes for my first Coupland read, and this novel did not let me down.
The story is actually several novellas tucking inside the journal of an alcoholic, divorced, and depressed Staples employee who is going through a mid-life crisis. Roger Thorpe swigs and stews while he creates a fake diary for Bethany, his garish and Gothic coworker, a younger but equally disgruntled and disillusioned Gen-Xer.
Bethany discovers the journal and begins a dialogue with Roger. She encourages him to kee
I’ve always admired the fact that Douglas Coupland can exploit metafiction and postmodern absurdity while still remaining within the limits of ‘commercial fiction’. His novels are real stories, which go somewhere, and have characters that learn things. They can be read as a literary exercise OR just a good yarn.

But, with The Gum Thief, Coupland seems to have gotten tired of playing by the rules of commercial fiction. The novel is unashamedly full of tricksy postmodernism and characters that are
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Douglas Coupland is Canadian, born on a Canadian Air Force base near Baden-Baden, Germany, on December 30, 1961. In 1965 his family moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he continues to live and work. Coupland has studied art and design in Vancouver, Canada, Milan, Italy and Sapporo, Japan. His first novel, Generation X, was published in March of 1991. Since then he has published nine novels and sever ...more
More about Douglas Coupland...
Microserfs Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture Girlfriend in a Coma Hey Nostradamus! JPod

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“I don't deserve a soul, yet I still have one. I know because it hurts.” 728 likes
“I think if human beings had genuine courage, they'd wear their costumes every day of the year, not just on Halloween. Wouldn't life be more interesting that way? And now that I think about it, why the heck don't they? Who made the rule that everybody 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. ” 158 likes
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