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The Gum Thief

3.49  ·  Rating Details  ·  8,433 Ratings  ·  627 Reviews
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
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Hardcover, 256 pages
Published September 25th 2007 by Random House Canada (first published 2007)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Michelle
Jan 17, 2009 Michelle rated it really liked it  ·  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
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RandomAnthony
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
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Alex
Oct 23, 2007 Alex rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Shelly
Jun 29, 2009 Shelly rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Jan 28, 2008 Bob Redmond rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Jason Pettus
Mar 31, 2008 Jason Pettus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com]. 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
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Karen
Dec 02, 2007 Karen rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Darin Strachan
Feb 14, 2008 Darin Strachan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorite-writers
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
Trin
Nov 04, 2007 Trin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Melissa
Nov 15, 2012 Melissa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Maria
Mar 10, 2009 Maria rated it it was amazing  ·  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.
York
Nov 16, 2015 York rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Hay una edad en la que parece que todos nos quedamos atascados. Alguien nos pregunta cuántos años tenemos y respondemos, pero no podemos evitar vernos a nosotros mismos como alguien más joven, suspendidos en algún momento clave de nuestro pasado. En esa era extraña de los veintitantos, donde todo es posible y no hay urgencia por certezas.

Es el planteamiento que ronda como fantasma en cada página de El Ladrón de Chicles, y debo confesar que me ha impactado con todo, para convertirse en uno de lo
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Amy
Dec 16, 2010 Amy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Psychophant
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
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Romina
Jul 09, 2013 Romina rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
IL LADRO DI GOMME

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
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Elisa
Aug 30, 2010 Elisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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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
Jonathan
Jan 30, 2008 Jonathan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
...more
annik
Apr 11, 2015 annik rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Chloe
Sep 28, 2014 Chloe rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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William Johnson
I've now read four Douglas Coupland books. My first was Microserfs which easily became one of my all-time favorite books. I was so enamored with that book that I didn't want to leave the "feeling" of it. So I picked up JPod and read that. Sure, it wasn't as good but I still loved it. I went back to the beginning and then read Generation X and, whatdoyaknow, it is one of my all-time favorites.

So, decades late, Coupland is becoming one of my favorite authors. I also seem to see his 'periods'; Earl
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Sabeeha Kurji
Jun 05, 2013 Sabeeha Kurji rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. I loved that most of it was set in my city. It was funny, clever, and well-written. The one thing I noticed was that the different characters in the book who were "writing" had too much of a similar style. The voices were not disparate enough.
Gina
So good! A goth girl finds a coworker's journal in the breakroom at the Staples they work at. The middle aged man writes about his failed life and also pretends to be the goth girl. She writes back, he writes back, others get involved and things get weird and sweet.
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
Paul Eckert
Nov 29, 2009 Paul Eckert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The Gum Thief, in my opinion, is Coupland's best since Hey Nostradamus!, which means a lot since HN! is one of my favorite books of all time. Every page of The Gum Thief is hilarious. I laughed out loud at least once on every page. As a writer, when I read a Coupland book, I get inspired, especially when it's as good as this. Well, enough about what I think. Here's a quick plot summation so you can figure out what this book is about: The Gum Thief follows Roger Thorpe, a mid-40's burnout working ...more
kb
Feb 17, 2012 kb rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: cringe-festival
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
Trashpalace
Dec 06, 2010 Trashpalace rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: finished, in, oct, 2007
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
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Gerund
Mar 02, 2009 Gerund rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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,
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Sara
Jan 11, 2008 Sara rated it liked it  ·  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,
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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
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1886
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...

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