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Player One: What Is to Become of Us (CBC Massey Lectures)
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Player One: What Is to Become of Us (CBC Massey Lectures)

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3.5  ·  Rating Details ·  4,580 Ratings  ·  493 Reviews
International bestselling author Douglas Coupland delivers a real-time, five-hour story set in an airport cocktail lounge during a global disaster. Five disparate people are trapped inside: Karen, a single mother waiting for her online date; Rick, the down-on-his-luck airport lounge bartender; Luke, a pastor on the run; Rachel, a cool Hitchcock blonde incapable of true hum ...more
Paperback, 256 pages
Published October 1st 2010 by House of Anansi Press (first published September 25th 2010)
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(showing 1-30)
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Mon
Oct 10, 2010 Mon rated it it was amazing
Shelves: po-mo
It's hard to write about any of Coupland's novel because they are much more than mere plots and characters smudged together. This hits its peak in Player One, possibly the clearest manifestation of Couplandism: where do we go after Postmodernism. When was Generation X published? Let's Google that. 1991. Will the future generation remember a time when information required more physical labour? Look, I can't even get to my review without quoting Coupland, this is how much I love him. So it has bee ...more
Daniel
Dec 11, 2013 Daniel rated it it was ok
If this book had decided to just go ahead and be a novel, it would've been great. If it had decided to just go ahead and be a series of essays on existentialism and the transformations (and implications of) humanity and society, it probably would've been great, too. Instead, it tries to be both, and only gets halfway with either.

The book is -- at first -- about five people who meet in a hotel bar during a major, global crisis. They each get a chance to tell their tales -- including a mysterious
...more
Patrick
Jan 20, 2016 Patrick rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One star for the shot.
One star for the appendix.
One star for Coupland's ability to glorify the sadness of humanity.
One star for God's opinion on evolution.
One star for sentences like, "personality is a slot machine, and the cherries, lemons, and bells are your SSRI system, your schizophrenic tendency, your left/right brain lobalization, your anxiety proclivity, your wiring glitches, your place on the autistic and OCD spectrums - and to these we must add the deep-level influences of the machi
...more
Emma Sea
I've got mixed feelings about the book. Neither female character read as completely believable to me, and yet they were both far better realized than the men, who were mere sketches.

Here's partly why. Our MC is in an airplane:

"[Karen's] a little too warm, so she undoes two buttons at the top of her dress, hoping that if anyone sees her they won't take this as a sign she's a slut."

Snap poll: friends, does this accurately describe your thoughts at any time in your life?

The other woman is on the au
...more
Jean
Jan 20, 2011 Jean rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Too bad books don't get remakes like films sometimes do. This book deserves one. The ideas, questions and characters in this novel are remarkable, confrontational and thought-provoking and the book is sprinkled with wit and good-to-know facts. Did you know that for every living person, there are only 19 dead people? But this book is like the Singapore sling Karen is drinking: too many ingredients for such a small container. 246 Pages is just not enough to offer more than a sketch of the issues a ...more
Sam Quixote
The Massey Lectures are an annual event in Canada where noted scholars give week long lectures on political, social, cultural, or philosophical topics. Douglas Coupland's contributions to these lectures is, rather than a standard long essay, the novel "Player One". The novel is divided up into 5 "hours" where the novel happens in real time and during the lecture week Doug will read 1 "hour" a day. For the rest of us who aren't going to the Massey Lectures we have this book.

Four strangers strand
...more
Vonia
Dark and depressing if you let this book get to you. Has existentialism written all over it, with a little more philosophizing than I cared for. One too many tangents regarding the meaning of our lives (apparently when one ceases to see theirs as a story, there is no more meaning), reincarnation (Karen discusses how she used to play a game when she was younger where they would have to pretend to die by mentioning what they reincarnated as. Interestingly (but so true!), not once in all those year ...more
Michael
Player One tells the story of five people trapped in an international airport during a global disaster. Over the next five hours, these lives are changed forever; a single mother waiting for an online date, an airport cocktail lounge bartender, a pastor on the run, a cool blonde bombshell incapable of love and a mysterious person known as Player One. The novel follows the interactions of these five people as they react to the chaos as we slowly find out just what happened.

Douglas Coupland master
...more
Rayroy
Mar 01, 2013 Rayroy rated it it was amazing
It's kind of strange that I read Player One in two days before the ten year anniversary of 9/11. Player One has many parts that I found great and moving, parts similar to other books by Coupland I have read. This time around it all clicked with me and I was taken back and moved. I seem to feel a little less alone when I read a Douglas Coupland novel and have a better grasp on our complex, mordern and digitally connected world. Read it if you're feelig a little alone and blue and in a mood to th ...more
David S.
Nov 12, 2012 David S. rated it really liked it
There is something disturbing about writers as intelligent as Douglas Coupland. Underneath the brilliant psychological dialogue, the haunting charismatic cast of underachievers, and the creative plot that is impossible to predict, lies writing that is so fresh and honest that it is scary truthful. Player One is that book, depicting the tale of five characters trapped in a cocktail lounge during a world changing event. The discussion topics: humanity vs. everything else and whether we are worth i ...more
Taiba Al-Najjar
Jun 04, 2015 Taiba Al-Najjar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Monumental approach to "what it means to be human".
Would have liked it to be longer. The character's voices were gripping and i found myself growing attached to all of them in the short time it took me to finish our journey.

At first I couldn't decide between a 3 and 4 star rating, but that Legend convinced me that it deserves a star all on its own.
So a 4 star rating is what this book earns from me.
Ben Babcock
Recently I stole the soapbox in another person's review of Shampoo Planet to pontificate about my personal reader's theory of Douglas Coupland. JPod was the first Coupland novel I read, and it is also my favourite. We all react to Coupland differently—i.e., JPod is my favourite, but some of my friends hate JPod with a passion and love Girlfriend in a Coma or Eleanor Rigby. Despite the fact that Coupland always deals with the same themes, his variations are subtle and diverse enough to create tho ...more
Darrell Reimer
Sep 02, 2011 Darrell Reimer rated it it was ok
Alright, so I lied — or spoke too soon, at any rate. After Generation A I was determined to never again pick up another Douglas Coupland novel. But then the CBC announced Coupland as last year's Massey Lecturer; to clinch any potential listener disappointment, they immediately added that Coupland would be “lecturing” in a novel format. Well . . . I suppose that was indeed a “novel” approach to take, if only by CBC standards.

The Massey Lectures are a platform for a Canadian blowhard-at-large to s
...more
Larissa
I spontaneously picked this book up from a shelf at the library dedicated to authors who took part in the recent Reykjavík International Literary Festival. I'd never read anything by Douglas Coupland and loved the idea of Player One's compressed timeline, as well as the motley cast of characters. The book starts gorgeously—it almost reads like a one act play, with snappy dialog and full passages that you can't help but read out loud to the person next to you—but the momentum dissolves rather abr ...more
René
Feb 27, 2014 René rated it really liked it
I read this book in French, which is dumb because it was written in English originally, but I found it in a bookstore and couldn't resist, so here we are. A lot of terms had me shaking my head in confusion, before realizing that the terms had no translation. New words don’t spread virally in French culture like they do in English-language cultures around the globe. For instance, there’s no French translation for “MILF” (the translator used “maman sexy”, which is poor and guts the expression of i ...more
DeadWeight
May 18, 2016 DeadWeight rated it did not like it
Shelves: postmodernism
"You know, I think the people I feel saddest for are the ones who once knew what profoundness was, but who lost or became numb to the sensation of wonder."
- Pastor Luke, in Douglas Coupland's Player One

If Coupland has succeeded anything in his more recent efforts, it's in producing work with an absolute modicum of effort, while somehow simultaneously coming off as a massive tryhard. It becomes apparent that much of what was ever great about the man's work was his ability to keep his finger on th
...more
Sharon
Dec 11, 2010 Sharon rated it it was amazing
I wouldn't have believed it myself, but Douglas Coupland, one of my favorite writers in his heyday, makes a strong and moving return to form in "Player One". I first heard the ending of this, possibly the most stirring and poetic part, broadcast as the radio lecture one night while driving around, and went on a desperate search for the book at a Borders within the next few days when I found out the beautiful passages I was hearing were from my once-beloved Coupland!

The scenario of five strangers
...more
Nate
I'm a Coupland fan. But I wouldn't recommend this to non-Coupland fans. I wouldn't recommend this to someone who needed something to read for a book report or plane flight no matter how agreeable the novel's length would be for the latter. I would recommend this for someone who has read one of his books like Gen X, Gen A, Life After God, Nostradamus, Girlfriend in a Coma, Shampoo Planet. If all you've read is Microserfs and JPod than I wouldn't bother with it.

Like many people in previous review
...more
La.Silbia
Il pensiero predominante del libro è stato: ma come diavolo siamo arrivati a questo punto? Da un inizio almeno all'apparenza promettente, ci si ritrova poi ad affrontare un tono pretenzioso e vagamente moraleggiante, camuffato dai discorsi dei personaggi sulle questioni ontologico-esistenziali. E avrei volentieri evitato di leggerli, visto anche che non pensavo proprio di trovarne, se non fosse che tolti quelli, da un certo momento in poi, non rimane altro.
Ma tant'è, il libro in sé si merita un
...more
Idleprimate
the primary thing i felt reading this book was embarrassment. It's almost entirely recycled (sometimes literally) ideas and sentiments from his previous works. it's sock puppet theatre, a cast of characters who all sound like robot versions of Coupland himself. And the audacity at turning real world concerns (oil shocks, civilization collapse) into not just a trite, but flimsy trope to serve as backdrop for another episode of Clever People Talking With Hip Indifference is positively shameful. Co ...more
Andrea
A random pick ; I kind of liked at first until it flattened out into a sorry hodgepodge of dime store philosophy.
Paul Eckert
Aug 10, 2011 Paul Eckert rated it really liked it
Player One is a novel that Douglas Coupland wrote as a series of one hour lectures to be given at the CBC Massey Lectures. Because of this, I believe there are probably different ways of approaching this story from a critical point of view, either as a lecture (meant to inform) or as a novel (meant to entertain). I read it as a novel, so that’s the basis of my review.

The premise of Player One is about five people who have converged in an airport hotel bar in Toronto, all for different reasons. L
...more
Myles
Jan 29, 2016 Myles rated it it was amazing
Title aside, Player One: What is to Become of Us, a Novel in Five Hours is an almost-perfect synthesis of what Coupland's writing has to offer.

Ever since a savvy librarian recommended me Generation X in high school, I've been a fan of Coupland's. His ironic commentary on modern life suited my sensibilities, which were jaded as only an introverted teenager's can be. What's kept me with him though are his metaphysical and spiritual meditations, his characters' search for meaning in our information
...more
Tim Gingrich
Jan 22, 2012 Tim Gingrich rated it really liked it
The story starts simply enough: five individuals trapped for five hours in an airport hotel lounge, which coincidently corresponds to five chapters, which each neatly correspond to an hour in real time.

But no sooner does Douglas Coupland set up Player One’s orderly world than he relinquishes that simple world to chaos.

It comes in the form of a news ticker on the lounge’s television – and things go downhill at the speed of cable news: a bomb is detonated at the OPEC summit, crude oil skyrockets,
...more
Jennifer Spiegel
Jan 10, 2011 Jennifer Spiegel rated it liked it
PLAYER ONE: WHAT IS TO BECOME OF US by Douglas Coupland

I know what I think, but what does everyone else think? Does Douglas Coupland, author of GENERATION X, write literary or genre fiction? I’m curious about why his name so rarely surfaces among the writer-people I know.

My two cents. Coupland writes literary fiction; it’s character-driven. While genre-fiction is often discussed in terms of being plot-oriented, with characters and everything else serving the plot, I’d suggest that Coupland write
...more
Pamela
Sep 12, 2016 Pamela rated it it was ok
The last 13% of the book is this glossary of made up words by the author which define situations that occurred in the book. Honestly, it was lame. Could hardly make myself read through the whole thing. The book overall reminded me of utopia books, where the author has something to say, but creates this fiction for characters to speak his ideas, and usually you have to bear with this device and it’s actually all very awkward. There are several parts in the narrative where these stranded people ar ...more
Tim
Dec 09, 2010 Tim rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone
I would be hesitant to call Player One a return to form for Douglas Coupland. Without a doubt it his best novel since Hey Nostradomus! but it really reads more like a "lost" novel from the Generation X - Girlfriend in a Coma era. In Player One, Coupland does what he used to do best--lovingly craft believable, realistic characters and puts them into a world that is fantastic, yet not entirely out of the realm of possibility. Gone is the forced self-indulgence of jPod and shorter, quicker narrativ ...more
Edmole
Aug 04, 2012 Edmole rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Douglas Coupland is one of those artists, like Woody Allen or Kevin Smith, whose characters all speak in his voice. Now whether this technique/failing works for you very much depends on the voice. I love me some Woody Allen. Boy howdy, do I hate me some Kevin Smith.

Luckily, Coupland's dense, florid, fact-packed inner and outer dialogue does it for me big time. From page one where a MILF on a plane ruminates on whether the teenager taking sneaky snaps of her will be sharing them online as soon as
...more
Mike
Nov 30, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobooks
This was a good one. I listened to the podcast of the live CBC Massey lectures, which was slightly abridged, and perhaps not for the better -- it sometimes felt like relevant materials was left out.

Anyway: The novel uses a seemingly apocalyptic scenario to address the question "What is it that makes us human?" I've kind of got a boner for that question, because I think it's important to our getting along peaceably on planet Earth, so my reaction to the novel was probably skewed in a positive dir
...more
Michele
Mar 09, 2011 Michele rated it really liked it
As part of the Massey Lecture series, this novel is already an unusual kind of creature. But. In addition to being a lecture and a novel, there's also a trailer for the book! A TRAILER for a BOOK. I've never heard of that before. You can check it out on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l4fAmO...

Of course because it's a lecture it's also a 'big ideas' kind of novel, but don't let that fool you. The ideas are presented in a fascinating way without being didactic. I read a lot of 'big idea'
...more
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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
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“You know, I think the people I feel saddest for are the ones who once knew what profoundness was, but who lost or became numb to the sensation of wonder, who felt their emotions floating away and just didn't care. I guess that's what's scariest: not caring about the loss.” 135 likes
“By the age of twenty, you know you're not going to be a rock star. By twenty-five, you know you're not going to be a dentist or any kind of professional. And by thirty, darkness starts moving in- you wonder if you're ever going to be fulfilled, let alone wealthy and successful. By thirty-five, you know, basically, what you're going to be doing for the rest of your life, and you become resigned to your fate...

...I mean, why do people live so long? What could be the difference between death at fifty-five and death at sixty-five or seventy-five or eighty-five? Those extra years... what benefit could they possibly have? Why do we go on living even though nothing new happens, nothing new is learned, and nothing new is transmitted? At fifty-five, your story's pretty much over.”
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