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El ladrón de chicles

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3.50  ·  Rating details ·  10,084 ratings  ·  720 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 Staples, condemned to restocking reams of 20-lb. bond paper for the rest of his life. And Roger’s co-worker
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Paperback, 283 pages
Published May 1st 2008 by El Aleph (first published 2007)
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Average rating 3.50  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,084 ratings  ·  720 reviews


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Michelle
Sep 05, 2008 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 seri
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Alex
Oct 23, 2007 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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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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shellyindallas
Jun 29, 2009 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 shellyindallas 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 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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Deborah Ideiosepius
An interesting enough-to-keep-me-reading work of fiction from an author that comes highly recommended. This is the second book by this author I have read and I am already seeing pretty obvious trends. The most obvious trend is that, whatever the circumstances and whoever the characters, the main business of the novel is the internal landscapes and ruminations of the individuals.

Billed by Bloomsbury on the back cover as "...wise, witty an unforgettable.." I personally disagree with all those des
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Jason Pettus
Mar 31, 2008 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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Elisa
Aug 20, 2009 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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Karen
Dec 02, 2007 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
Maria
Oct 01, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: north-america
This is the story of Steve and Bethany, pen pals and coworkers at Staples. Even though they work togehter, they prefer to write letters to each other rather than talk face to face, and this letter-writing is the whole premise of the novel. Some of the letters are written by side characters, like Bethany's mother Dee Dee. The book also contains a couple of Bethany's writing exercises from a creative writing class, and excerpts from Steve's unpublished novel "Glove Pond". These were fun to read an ...more
Darin
Jan 23, 2008 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
Melissa
Nov 15, 2012 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 a goth teena ...more
Amy
Dec 16, 2010 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.
Trin
Oct 03, 2007 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
Robin
Nov 18, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars. I loved the humanness in this book - broken people trying to make sense of their broken lives. It helps immensely if you are familiar with Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf (I’ve watched the movie many times)to appreciate the story within the story of Glove Pond.
Jason Robinson
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A quite ingenious little epistolary novel by Douglas Coupland set in the drudgery of a Staples store, and also contains a novel-within- a novel "Glove Pond".
Diana
Nov 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Entertaining. A book within a book within a book🤪.
Booklover 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
Dec 31, 2007 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
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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
...more
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.
Sabeeha Kurji
Jun 05, 2013 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.
Jeff Mauch
This novel was just interesting enough to keep turning the pages, but just barely. I gave this one a shot because I had read another Coupland novel and saw promise in his writing, but now I'm starting to think he's just a very average writer. It's not that he doesn't do things well, he does, specifically when it comes to trying to show the internal ruminations of his characters, but that's not enough. In this novel we are really given 2-3 main characters and a handful of vague supporting ones. T ...more
Laura Gorman
I’m confused. I was confused in the beginning. I was confused in the middle. I was confused in the end.
Lynn Adams
Jan 09, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Struggle to read

I struggled reading and understanding this book! It never made any sense! I would not recommend this book at all!

Reese Lightning
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Coupland's novels have a way of finding me at eerily appropriate turning points in my life, and for this magic I used to love him and now I rather hate him.
Baba
Jul 01, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary
Easily my most enjoyable Coupland book... It's like expecting a cheap cider and getting a bottle of good Champagne. Where do I start first a wonderful supportive relationship between an middle age alcoholic man and a young female Goth! Add Staples stationery store, debunking a Stephen king Novel, essays on toast and a wonderful story within a story and you get some pure Coupland gold. My recommendation, READ IT GODDAMNIT!
Kara Babcock
It's exciting to read a new Douglas Coupland novel. After discovering jPod two years ago, I devoured the rest of Coupland's oeuvre. When I learned he had a new book out, I rushed to pre-order the trade paper back version. The Gum Thief. Intriguing.

In fact, I didn't expect an epistolary novel. But that didn't detract from my experience.

The two main characters, Roger and Bethany, have a bizarre relationship and play counterpoint to each other. Roger is the burnt-out middle-aged divorced guy, out o
...more
Miriam
The first complaint that I have with this book concerns its 'book within a book' conceit. The main character, Roger, is writing a novel, 'Glove Pond', which is a not-even-trying-to-pretend-it's-not-a-knock-off of Who's Afraid Of Virginia Woolf. I struggle with these. You ever see Stranger Than Fiction? It was a fun movie but I just couldn't abide its premise hingeing on the author's novel being 'a masterpiece, but only if he dies'. This put me in mind of that. It's just not any good. You could a ...more
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
...more
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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

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