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 across very one-sided. Roger is miserable and drinks. Bethany is bored. That's it. But don’t let these surface differences fool you! In reality, every character thinks the same way: they think like Douglass Coupland. They speak of the metaphysical and philosophical in the same fashion. You could take 80% of the ideas that these characters spout off, change what mouth of what character it’s coming out of and the book would be the same. Now, I know that’s his style and usually I forgive him for that (you could say the same thing about Microserfs and Generation X, two books I think are excellent) but I paid $30 for this book and I’m bitter.
If that isn’t bad enough, the other part of the book centers around a story within the story, a novel Roger is writing titled Glove Pond. The novel, from what I can tell, is supposed to be awful. But it’s hard to say because the characters in The Gum Thief all love it so much you start to think maybe Roger is supposed to be some sort of gifted writer. But he isn’t. Glove Pond sucks. Everyone in Glove Pond is annoying. That’s the experience of reading this book; instead of suffering through one terrible story, you suffer through two.
2. Distractingly out-of-touch.
There’s this part where a character steals some gum and the security tape of the incident is set to music. The character doesn’t get caught or whatever on the video. This video is mentioned to have become a massive hit on YouTube. Call me a skeptic, but I don’t think he knows what kind of videos become hits on YouTube. It’s like he wanted to mention viral videos because it will make him look hip.
So, okay, who cares? The problem lies in the fact that all of these things (well, most of them) come in the form of asides and as such are mostly unnecessary. He didn’t need to mention YouTube, but he did. And nothing good came for it.
Then there are the big generational misconception flaws, maybe the most important one is the idea of a twenty-four year old woman goth. She’s so old to be doing this and as it’s not really fully explained it feels like Coupland doesn’t know how modern day subcultures work. It seemed weird and off.
3. It’s dumb!
Life always kills you in the end, but first it prevents you from getting what you want. I’m so tired of never getting what I want. Or of getting it with a monkey paw curse attached. All those Hollywood people are always saying to be careful what you wish for, yeah, but at least they first had a wish come true.
Hang on, I’m venting here.
One more breath.”
Prepare for reading a lot of that sort of stuff, from every character. Everyone’s like, smokin’ cigarettes and like, drinking piss vodka and stuff and like, shit’s fucked up man.
The whole book has this Hi-I’m-Douglass-Coupland-and-I-needed-some-money-to-build-a-deck feeling to it. I normally don’t diss on a book this badly and I feel jerkish about it (I've never written a novel, terrible or otherwise). I’ll say there’s a part where a writing teacher makes the class write about the experience of a bread being buttered from the bread’s point of view and I think anyone who has had a creative writing class will find this mildy amusing. Additionally, I smiled on four jokes that he put in there too somewhere. But I’ll also say this is the second worst book I’ve read in two years.
I have more to say but goodreads' limit is 4000 characters.(less)
I got this book for Christmas two years ago from my family and was immediately intimidated by the size of the book, and the fact that it was given to...moreI got this book for Christmas two years ago from my family and was immediately intimidated by the size of the book, and the fact that it was given to me by my family, who know little about what kind of stuff I read.
I was very pleasantly suprised to find that I was immediately hooked after the first chapter. This might be my favorite, uh, modern dramatic novel ever.
The story is really great and the characters are very interesting and real as well. Perlman's voice is hypnotic. He sounds like he's drunk as he writes it and this makes the book pretty interesting to read. The whole thing reads like a last minute confession and oftentimes Perlman's writing manages to resonate in such a way it seems as if the characters were talking about you rather than some other person in the book.(less)
I picked this up because I was a huge fan of "You Remind Me of Me", the author's previous (and I believe debut?) novel. Just as the case was with "You...moreI picked this up because I was a huge fan of "You Remind Me of Me", the author's previous (and I believe debut?) novel. Just as the case was with "You Remind Me of Me", the writing itself is completely engrossing and I found myself relating with some of the characters right away. This was enough to keep me engaged in the book despite not much going on as far as the characters' actions were concerned.
I've heard this book described a lot as genre fiction, that is to say that if you like Stephen King, or writers similar to Stephen King, you'd be into this book as well. I would disagree with that assessment, as most of the action of the book takes place inside the characters' heads, rather than the external actions of said characters.
Except for like, the last forty pages of the novel. The end comes so fast, and so heavy-handed, that it is a jarring experience to read and comes off as somewhat false. Additionally, there is what I believe is intended to be some sort of twist at the end, but it's so predictable that it doesn't really register as one and rather just feels like the author is trying to tie up every tiny loose end that may have been left unaddressed earlier.
I agree with the previous reviewer who said that she enjoyed reading it while she was reading it, but as soon as she put the book down she was left with a feeling of "uh, what?"-ness.(less)
This book is so incredibly dense and frustrating. Parts of it are amazing and then you'll come across twenty pages describing ductwork.
I am suspiciou...moreThis book is so incredibly dense and frustrating. Parts of it are amazing and then you'll come across twenty pages describing ductwork.
I am suspicious of people who claim this is their favorite book. It's like saying you make a yearly habit of reading "War and Peace". The book is good, but I think it's too much of a chore to read to qualify as anyone's "favorite book". (less)
The only reason why this doesn't get an immediate five stars is because the ending is a little weak. But this was one of the most funny and odd books...moreThe only reason why this doesn't get an immediate five stars is because the ending is a little weak. But this was one of the most funny and odd books I have read in awhile. I enjoyed how much I related to the main character's view on the world, despite the fact that I do not sell meat out of a bus. Several times I found myself laughing out loud and wishing I knew the author personally so I could give her a high five and a hug for writing such an entertaining, personal and awesome book.(less)
This was my favorite Hornby book because it only takes a day to read and it has a cute ending. This book isn't going to blow anyone away, but it was e...moreThis was my favorite Hornby book because it only takes a day to read and it has a cute ending. This book isn't going to blow anyone away, but it was enjoyable nevertheless.(less)
I liked the reservations in the main character about what he was doing, and also the moments of ruthlessness that he and the androids displayed. The s...moreI liked the reservations in the main character about what he was doing, and also the moments of ruthlessness that he and the androids displayed. The scene with him and Rachel in the hotel room was one of the better written conversations between two characters I have read in some time.
That being said, I feel that the story felt a little rushed (although this might been intended by the author) and it didn't really stick with me as I was hoping.(less)
I got this book like, six months ago and tried reading the first couple of chapters. I almost threw the book away. About two months ago, I didn't have...moreI got this book like, six months ago and tried reading the first couple of chapters. I almost threw the book away. About two months ago, I didn't have anything else to read so I picked it up again. After slogging through the almost unreadable intro, it ends up to be pretty good. Really engaging, actually.
BTW, I know every book so far on my profile has been hipster lit, but I'm just grabbing them off my shelf/floor at this point as they come, people.(less)
This book is somewhat hard to classify, I guess. It's very thoughtful, somewhat sad and is touching at parts. I liked it because it I felt that a larg...moreThis book is somewhat hard to classify, I guess. It's very thoughtful, somewhat sad and is touching at parts. I liked it because it I felt that a large part of it was about seeking emotional truth and taking the neccessary steps in one's life that are needed to be happy, and how that can be difficult at times.
I agree with earlier reviews that in the middle the book takes a very confusing turn, and yes, this did throw me off. This coupled with the fact that the ending is suprisingly cold and abrupt somewhat cooled me to the book but overall I liked it. I'll probably read the rest of this guy's stuff.(less)
I mentioned in my review of "The Gum Thief" that it was the second worst book I read in two years. This is the worst. The author is a semi-literate eg...moreI mentioned in my review of "The Gum Thief" that it was the second worst book I read in two years. This is the worst. The author is a semi-literate egomaniac who seems to have little or no understanding of the journalistic process and even less insight on the world of high-school students.
You will often see copies of this book in the trash or in toilets filled with puke. Ironically, some high schools use copies of this book to fuel the furnaces that warm the classrooms. I urge you to make no effort to rescue these books from their fate—it's better this way.(less)
This is the only playbook that I was required to read from college that I still read on occasion. I think that should be a sufficient testament to its...moreThis is the only playbook that I was required to read from college that I still read on occasion. I think that should be a sufficient testament to its quality.(less)
This book started off so slow and absurdly bizarre that I almost abandoned it after the first chapter. At the beginning, all of the characters were al...moreThis book started off so slow and absurdly bizarre that I almost abandoned it after the first chapter. At the beginning, all of the characters were almost completely unrelatable and that proved a difficult challenge to overcome. However, as soon as Jane becomes more involved in the book, the mystery really gets going and it becomes a great read.
I really like the arc the main character takes and even at the end ended up liking a lot of the supporting players (even Courtland). Jane is an excellent character as she basically serves I think as the "straight" person of the story, that is to say her reactions to the other characters are pretty consistent of what a person from our society would act like if they lived in the world that Jasper has set up here.
I was disappointed to have the book end. I am anticipating reading the rest of this series as they come out.(less)
This is probably my favorite David Sedaris book overall. It's not the funniest, but that's not why I like it. I don't think I even read the "funny" es...moreThis is probably my favorite David Sedaris book overall. It's not the funniest, but that's not why I like it. I don't think I even read the "funny" essays in this book anymore. But I read pretty much all of the other ones obsessivly. "Repeat After Me" might be my favorite thing that he's written, although I could be wrong. He's written a lot of neat things. The other stories I go to right away are "Put a Lid on It" and "The Girl Next Door".
Arguably, the even better ones are the ones I don't read, just because they make me feel so depressed. Not depressed in the sense of "Wow, the world is falling apart" but depressed in the sense of, well, I don't really know. Depressed. "The End of the Affair" is a real good example of this sort of essay, but it isn't the only example I could point out in this book.
I guess the best selling point of this book is that when I don't have a new book to read in the subway and I'm running late for work, I grab this one as a fill-in. And it usually comes through. (less)