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Worst. Person. Ever.

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A razor-sharp portrait of a morally bankrupt and gleefully wicked modern man, Worst. Person. Ever. is Douglas Coupland's gloriously filthy, side-splittingly funny and unforgettable novel.

Meet Raymond Gunt. A decent chap who tries to do the right thing. Or, to put it another way, the worst person ever: a foul-mouthed, misanthropic cameraman, trailing creditors, ex-wives and unhappy homeless people in his wake. Men dislike him, women flee from him.

Worst. Person. Ever. is a deeply unworthy book about a dreadful human being with absolutely no redeeming social value. Gunt, in the words of the author, "is a living, walking, talking, hot steaming pile of pure id." He's a B-unit cameraman who enters an amusing downward failure spiral that takes him from London to Los Angeles and then on to an obscure island in the Pacific where a major American TV network is shooting a Survivor-style reality show. Along the way, Gunt suffers multiple comas and unjust imprisonment, is forced to re-enact the ‘Angry Dance’ from the movie Billy Elliot and finds himself at the centre of a nuclear war. We also meet Raymond's upwardly failing sidekick, Neal, as well as Raymond's ex-wife, Fiona, herself ‘an atomic bomb of pain’.

Even though he really puts the ‘anti’ in anti-hero, you may find Raymond Gunt an oddly likeable character.

317 pages, Hardcover

First published September 5, 2013

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About the author

Douglas Coupland

94 books4,395 followers
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 several non-fiction books in 35 languages and most countries on earth. He has written and performed for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, England, and in 2001 resumed his practice as a visual artist, with exhibitions in spaces in North America, Europe and Asia. 2006 marks the premiere of the feature film Everything's Gone Green, his first story written specifically for the screen and not adapted from any previous work. A TV series (13 one-hour episodes) based on his novel, jPod premieres on the CBC in January, 2008.


Retrieved 07:55, May 15, 2008, from http://www.coupland.com/coupland_bio....

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 786 reviews
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,602 reviews2,574 followers
January 8, 2015
Worst. Novel. Ever? Not quite, but still irredeemably awful. If you were to imagine Martin Amis and Lionel Shriver at their absolute nastiest, then throw in all the gratuitous profanity and crudely sexual material you could possibly think of, you’d have some idea of how utterly unlikable this book is.

I’ve somehow managed to read six Coupland novels now, without ever becoming a fan. That said, I think The Gum Thief delightful (I included it in a list of my favorite epistolary novels), and JPod unforgettable – even if only for the marzipan stapler.

Professor Andrew Tate, of Lancaster University in the UK, is one of my personal literary gurus and happens to have written a terrific work of appreciation, Douglas Coupland. I can certainly recognize the literary qualities he cites there. For instance, “Coupland’s characters are fugitives from the story of middle-class aspiration, hoping to forge a new identity.” Coupland is a sharp critic of the “alleged sterility and blandness of suburban life…warning against the anaesthetic qualities of contemporary Western life.” And “Generation X (1991), Microserfs (1995) and Girlfriend in a Coma read like postmodern jeremiads against the excesses of the age, prompted by loathing for a mindless and corrupt commodity culture.”

All the same, I am skeptical of Coupland; there is something too facile about his slick, postmodern trendiness, and because his books are so much a product of their time I sense that they will not equate to lasting achievement. Nonetheless, I have enjoyed some of his previous efforts, even when they trail off into wishy-washiness.

Worst. Person. Ever, though, is an entirely different story.

Our narrator is Raymond Gunt (no prizes for guessing what that rhymes with), a London-based cameraman whose ex-wife has promised him a job filming the latest series of Survival on Kiribati. Let’s see. What happens next? He fights with a homeless guy (Neal, the only character I’d rescue from this novel’s apocalypse), then hires him as his assistant; on the flight from hell he manages to both deeply offend some minders of disabled children and torment a morbidly obese man who, conveniently, drops dead of a heart attack. Gunt’s foul mouth and raunchiness get him on the bad side of absolutely everyone he meets, including agents of the U.S. government, which results in him being grounded at a military base and forced to re-enact a dance from Billy Elliot before a crowd.

In the course of a ridiculous (non-)plot that includes a plan to drop an atomic bomb to destroy the Pacific Trash Vortex, Raymond takes some trips via Ecstasy and his severe macadamia nut allergy, gets thrown off the island by some prudish natives, develops fixations on a Cure T-shirt and a certain piece of red plastic, finds himself reduced to infantilism by his dreadful mother, struggles not to have a crush on his long-lost teenage daughter, rips some flesh off of a former lover, and delivers a lovely exposition on the merits of sheep-shagging. He likes to think he is a cross between Jason Bourne (action hero) and James Bond (lady’s man), but in fact he is a pathetic excuse for a human being.

Have I made any of this sound funny? I sincerely hope not. I don’t think I laughed once. The occasional aside (describing an airplane meal as “a croissant stuffed by careless chimps” or England as “the land of tea and hard-to-digest food”) raised a smile, but I was so numbed by the awfulness of the rest of the book that I wasn’t in any mood for jokes.

The germ of this novel appeared in Dave Eggers’s McSweeney’s magazine, where Coupland tried to pass it off as a revival of an ancient Chinese genre known as biji or “notebook.” This form, Coupland notes, “can contain anecdotes, quotations, random musings, philological speculations, literary criticism and anything that the author deems worth recording.” Don’t buy it: the only thing structurally interesting about the book is the footnotes – and these constitute nothing but a gimmicky, poor imitation of David Foster Wallace.

I don’t have a problem with bad language, sexual perversion, or gross-out poop scenes. (Heck, I even wrote a whole article in praise of the ongoing presence of scatology in literature.) My response is not that of a prude or an uptight religious nut. But still I feel I should issue the warning that this book is filthy. You will feel in need of brain bleach when you finish.

It’s not as if I’m not looking for saccharine niceness when I read novels. I’d be just as happy reading an epic tragedy as a satisfying happy ending.

I’m only asking for a little redeeming sweetness, some small fragment of meaning and humanity. And that’s just not present here.

As Raymond explains about Survival, “You’re either into this show or you’re not. It’s binary.” I’m afraid I’m definitely not into this novel, and if this is the direction Coupland is taking, I’m not sure I’ll pick up another of his books for some time to come.
Profile Image for Toby.
831 reviews328 followers
March 8, 2014
The new novel from Douglas Coupland is not as some lazy reviewers who think they're being original and witty would have you believe the Worst. Book. Ever. Oh how they must have patted themselves on the back and given self hi-fives when they came up with that one. It is actually a brilliantly funny assault on contemporary western civilisation through the eyes of someone who just might be one of the biggest bastards in modern fiction.

Offensive man acts offensively, his karma appears to be in the toilet, he's unnaturally angry and so, very, completely correct about the things he verbally assaults. The challenge in reading about an awful person is usually to read beyond the brash exterior, the despicable actions etc. and find entertainment in the prose, something that a large number of sensitive souls struggle with. But with Worst. Person Ever. Coupland takes things a step further, he is not only entertaining you with his skilful choice of words whilst making astute and witty observations he forces you to acknowledge that you are Raymond Gunt, you may not scream these obscene statements out loud but I know you've all thought them at the very least. I feel certain that your realisation of this fact will heavily contribute to you calling it the worst novel ever, not many sensitive souls out there want to face up to their inner self after all.

Coupland doesn't hide anything from his readers, he shows you exactly how offensive things are going to be from page one, “the universe delivered unto me a searing hot kebab of vasectomy leftovers drizzled in donkey jizz” is followed by referring to his ex-wife as a "leathery cumdump" and if you're too stupid to check out at this point you're setting yourself up for 300+ pages of hurt, complete with my favourite rant of the lot:

“I seriously wish that he had spent his entire childhood being serially arse-raped by teachers, scoutmasters, members of the clergy, relatives, policemen, doctors, door-to-door salesmen and all registered sex offenders within a 500-mile radius of his unprotected bedroom.”

Raymond Gunt is your modern everyman as far as I'm concerned and Douglas Coupland nails him perfectly.
Profile Image for Jason.
200 reviews70 followers
March 13, 2017
Douglas Coupland is a damn genius.

You just know the book is going to be good when the book jacket literally has a disclaimer on it saying "Viewer Discretion Is Advised."

Distilled down, Worst. Person. Ever. is essentially a novel about a man (Raymond) who goes through life getting shit on at every turn. Throughout, Raymond experiences all the real life issues we go through, but he experiences them during a global nuclear crisis, while navigating life on an island in the middle of nowhere with his ex-wife and a homeless man he recently met.

This book is actually LMAO funny at points. Coupland is really in touch with contemporary humour, and he didn't shy away from a single taboo subject. He talks a lot about sex (self pleasure and orgies alike), he uses every swear word and swear combo imaginable, and he even manages to tackle a little bit of politics.

W.P.E is a commentary on life. Although it may seem exaggerated at times, really there isn't a single thing that happens to Raymond that doesn't happen to someone out there in the world. And even though we are not currently experiencing a nuclear crisis, we certainly have in the past, and more than likely will in the future. Raymond has his heart broken multiple times, he falls in love multiple times, and he experiences a twentygy (an orgy with 20 people). Coupland shines a light on how small the world is; Raymond just so happens to keep running into people from his past, and under the worst possible circumstances imaginable.

Now, I would caution anyone who is easily offended (which I doubt many of my fellow Goodreaders out there are) because there are certainly things in those pages that could mark someone the wrong way. But if you approach this novel with an open mind, you can actually see the likeability of Raymond, even through his hard outer shell and outward persona. I was able to see a lot of myself in him, which I found surprising. He has many redeemable qualities. I think this book's sweet spot was shining a spotlight on the insecurities of certain people and how those insecurities manifest. For Raymond, he puts on a tough outer shell, but on the inside he has emotions and feelings like the rest of us. He feels shame and embarrassment and even guilt. Happiness and jealousy. It's all there. It's a reminder that, even though someone may appear one way on the outside, they may be completely different on the inside.

What I loved about the ending was that it all worked out for Raymond. For me, the lesson here was that we may all be going through awful things in our own lives, but in the end its all going to be okay. Great literature teaches you something about yourself, and this book taught me to take a deep breath, relax, and realise it's all going to work out in the end.

On the writing: Coupland is a rare talent; sheesh that man can write a sentence. I flew through the pages, constantly on my toes, wondering what the heck was going to happen next. His writing is fluid, almost inhumanely so. The novel runs through your mind like you're watching it on the big screen.

Coupland is one of those authors that deserves a broader audience than he has. I can't wait to read another one of his books.
Profile Image for Eric.
332 reviews
April 4, 2017
Worst. Book. Ever. I can't remember hating a book as much as I hated this one. I would have given it a zero if I could have. I am a huge Coupland fan but I am starting to think that his best years are behind him. I hope I am wrong but this book was awful. How it got past the publisher I don't know. If anyone reads this and likes it you will have to tell me why because I can't find any redeeming qualities in it. Don't waste your time with this, too many other books to read.
Profile Image for Kara Babcock.
1,920 reviews1,256 followers
November 3, 2013
This book is a work of art.

I say this knowing that Douglas Coupland is as much an artist as he is a writer. It shows in his novels. His works very deliberately play with the same themes and variations across the decades. Having read, and enjoyed, the majority of his novels, it’s hard not to see all the recurring character types, set pieces, and plot elements. Microserfs and JPod riff on the cognitive dissonance of the software industry, while Generation A , Girlfriend in a Coma , and Player One toss unlikely groups of people together to ride out visions of apocalypse. Now, with Worst. Person. Ever., Coupland takes aim at this familiar territory, setting out once again to shock and awe.

That’s what I mean when I call Worst. Person. Ever. a work of art: it is an offensive and perhaps shocking book, but deliberately so. As the title and cover copy promise, Raymond Gunt is a terrible person. And the profanity! It’s not just your everyday, run-of-the-mill profanity of F-bombs and the like; no, Coupland delivers crude imagery on the order of “the universe delivered unto me a searing hot kebab of vasectomy leftovers drizzled in donkey jizz”. (That’s from the second page, by the way. He’s up front about what this book is like.) Thanks a lot, Coupland.

So for me, reading Worst. Person. Ever. was like staring at those types of photos or paintings that you know are trying to provoke you. I spent six years working at an art gallery—which provides me with exactly nothing in the way of qualification or expertise to discuss art. But I saw a good many exhibitions come and go along the way, and while visual art does not push my buttons the way literature does, I have some sense of how and why artists use visual media to provoke the audience. For these artists, art must go beyond the aesthetic, must be about more than form and function and beauty. Art can offend to educate and to inculcate a desire to question and learn.

Some people just won’t get it. They’ll look at the donkey jizz kebab of page two (and really, page two only goes downhill from there—the words “leathery cumdump” also make an appearance), and if that doesn’t make them hit the eject button, then the coke-tinged, profanity-laced conversation between Raymond and his ex-wife, Fiona, that comprises the remainder of the chapter would definitely set them running. These are the people who see offensive art only for its offensive qualities and don’t stop to question why it’s trying to be offensive. Worst. Person. Ever. is not for them.

The journey of Raymond Gunt is an incredibly unlikely, even nonsensical one. It involves twists of fate and reversals that would please the playwrights of the sixteenth century, and the sudden introduction or redaction of characters at a speed that would make soap opera writers’ heads spin. Raymond makes it to ground zero of an atomic bomb detonation, which very nearly touches off another one of Coupland’s apocalypses. When he makes it back to "civilization"—an island in Kiribati where they are filming a reality TV show—he finds himself stuck in a drama that should be a reality TV show.

The situations in which Coupland’s characters find themselves are almost always implausible, no matter the novel. His writing is always on the precipice of the surreal. It’s in this liminal space that Coupland excels at mirroring and critiquing contemporary culture. Replete with pop culture references, his novels are always steeped in the present.

This is problematic from a posterity point of view. Topical novels always run the risk of burning brightly in their era before fading swiftly. I’m not sure we should be so quick to judge, however, simply because there are plenty of now-classic books that were probably considered (or still are considered) topical for their times and that have their own, albeit more subtle, types of pop culture reference. Reading a book from a previous era will always be, in some ways, an exercise in cultural anthropology. In this sense, I don’t think Coupland is much worse off than another writer. Worst. Person. Ever. also ameliorates the situation through periodic asides that explain, in the form of asides that mimic the most sardonic of Wikipedia articles. These certainly helped me, since some of the references date to before I was born.

Coupland seems interested in probing the transition zone between fake and genuine in our culture. What makes people “fake” to one another rather than genuine? Are we ever really genuine, or do we always put on some kind of act to get what we want, whether it’s sex, a job, or simply a piece of red plastic?

Raymond is particularly critical of the disposable and processed artifacts of our culture. With faux-British snobbery, he and Neal pan the preservative-laden food they find in American airports. They don’t actually eat a healthy meal for most of the novel, subsisting mainly on packages of macadamia nuts (to which Raymond is violently allergic). Similarly, Raymond laments the seemingly-arbitrary rules imposed by travel and federal authorities with regards to alcohol consumption—rules that never seem to bother or inconvenience others, just him.

Neal, on the other hand, never seems inconvenienced by anything. Plucked from a life on the streets by Raymond to be his personal assistant (read: slave), Neal soon proves to be irresistible to women and far more successful than Raymond. Unlike our cameraman protagonist, Neal is unassuming and equanimous. He takes life as it comes, and it seems that “going with the flow” leaves him happier and better-adjusted than Raymond, who is more like a cat—unwilling to do anything that someone else wants it to do, even if it would like that thing.

Witnessing the story unfold is rather like watching a cartoon through a series of increasingly funky funhouse mirrors. It starts off innocently enough, with Raymond landing the job on the reality TV show. Before the halfway point, whether he and Neal will ever get to Kiribati starts looking like a dubious proposition.

You would think that, with his penchant for poking at pop culture, Coupland would ride the reality TV trope hard. He only indulges once or twice, though. There’s a memorable scene where Fiona and Neal choose replacement cast members for the show based on their attractiveness and ability to fulfil stereotypical roles; and there’s a parody of the sadistic qualities of these shows in the form of a contest to eat plates of live, wriggling insects. For the most part, however, Coupland avoids the low-hanging fruit of satirizing reality television in favour of satirizing reality itself (which is, let’s face it, disappointingly unrealistic most of the time).

Although I laughed out loud at a few points throughout the book, I wouldn’t say that Worst. Person. Ever. is hilarious in the same vein that I found JPod. Then again, neither is most of Coupland’s work. There’s a solemnity to some of his absurdism that reminds me more of Kurt Vonnegut than Douglas Adams. These authors, too, wrote books that I would consider deliberately offensive, albeit not quite to the crude extent that Coupland presents here. Then again, they weren’t living in the time of the MTV Video Music Awards, of Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus. It’s not necessarily harder to be offensive these days, but the signal-to-noise ratio is much lower.

This isn’t the meditative masterpiece that I consider Player One, which I’m teaching to my sixth form students this year, to be. It isn’t as emotionally touching as Eleanor Rigby or Girlfriend in a Coma. It is, however, characteristically Coupland. You can like it or you can hate it (it is, as Coupland comments on reality TV itself, binary); it is not fair to say, however, that it’s just “more of the same”. Coupland is an author who manages to play with the same ideas over and over yet always reinvent himself along the way. Worst. Person. Ever. is the latest iteration, brave and bold and in-your-face and not necessarily to everyone’s liking. So kudos to him for not playing it safe, and for giving me an entertaining weekend read.

Creative Commons BY-NC License
Profile Image for Sam Quixote.
4,482 reviews12.8k followers
September 23, 2013
In 2009, Douglas Coupland’s short story Survivor was published in McSweeney’s 31 and featured a cameraman on a tropical island filming a Survivor-esque reality show who discovers that nuclear war has erupted in the outside world and that they, on this island in the middle of nowhere, could be the last remaining descendants of humanity, turning their survival reality show into a reality of survival. The story clearly stayed with Coupland because, 4 years later, he’s developed the short story into a full length novel: Worst. Person. Ever. And as good as the short story was, the novel is even better - in fact, I would say it’s the Funniest. Novel. Of The Year!

Raymond Gunt is a B-unit cameraman who gets a gig on the reality show Survival which starts shooting shortly on the small island nation of Kiribati in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Ray doesn’t know it yet but he’s about to instigate nuclear armageddon and it all starts when he picks a fight with a homeless man called Neal, and ends with a hybrid piece of cutlery.

Ray is also a despicable person who treats everyone like something he stepped in, thinks only of himself in every instance, and is a sleazy, hateful, miserable middle-aged man – and he thinks he’s a decent bloke. And actually as a protagonist, he is a fully engaging, completely fascinating person - even if he is a swine, you can’t help but love his misadventures. But I don’t want to make you think that he does anything truly heinous that goes too far because he’s endlessly likeable. Think of characters like Flashman or Blackadder - Ray is like them in nearly every way, bungling his way through things and somehow making out ok in the end. Kind of. Because Ray has hideously bad luck which makes for one hell of an entertaining read for us, the readers.

Ray’s lengthy journey from London to Kiribati consumes much of the novel as he and his faithful companion Neal (the former homeless man turned personal assistant) take numerous planes to reach the island – but pretty much everything that can go wrong, does go wrong for Ray and the disastrous travel arrangements become the stuff of classic comedy. I should also mention that despite being homeless, Neal is incongruously sexually attractive to all women.

On their flight out to LA, Ray is booked in business class and Neal in coach but, after the first of many mishaps with customs, the tickets get switched and Ray winds up in a middle seat in coach between some Bunuel children - basically special needs kids who scream constantly. After enduring enough screams and clothing stains, Ray heads to business class where he finds Neal sat next to Cameron Diaz, sharing champagne and flirtations with her. This is the beginning of some superbly put-together misanthropic statements from Ray who calls Neal a “fecal-scented golem” and the stewardess who tries to throw him out “lady c**tly mcrazorpanties” leading to what you would expect would happen when you verbally assault a stewardess in a post-9/11 world. But in the next plane he does manage to get a first class seat, leading to this brilliant passage:

“As I settled in, a gratifying phalanx of the babbling poor began scuttling past, back towards the fartulent rabbit warren of coach. It was all I could do not to stick out my leg and trip these f**king losers, but knowing that I had the power to do so was all it took to make me glow inwardly and refrain…First class filled up bit by bit. Nice enough looking lot - most likely took a bath before coming to the airport; not on the dole or whatever it’s called in the States; haven’t yet sold their children to work in thrice-a-day stage showings of burro sex.”

If you didn’t enjoy that passage, this novel simply isn’t for you – Ray remains a prickly but fiercely eloquent narrator throughout the story who remains at odds with nearly everyone he meets and vice versa. With the one exception of Neal, who, despite consistent abuse from Ray, remains cheerfully upbeat and stands more or less alongside him. In fact their relationship and Ray’s vitriolic verbiage (“Neal, less than a week ago, your entire physical being resembled a dag hanging from a sheep’s a***hole.”) reminded me a lot of the TV series, Blackadder, with Ray as Blackadder and Neal as Baldrick (albeit a more sexually charged Baldrick though no less smelly). Which is to say that Coupland manages to replicate one of the greatest comedy couplings ever and actually make them as funny, if not more so, with fresh, unexplored scenarios and no limits on adult material.

One of these ingenious scenarios happens later on the way to Kiribati, when they approach a remote island in the Pacific controlled by the US Military called Wake Island. Ray is asked to close his blinds on the approach to landing and refuses, going so far as to say in Morse code: “try and make me lower my blinds you f**king American c**ts” which leads to a punishment that’s both cruel and unusual - re-enacting the angry dance from Billy Elliott in front of the entire island’s personnel (and includes a link to a Youtube video of that scene that I imagine will be useful for those reading the e-book version of this).

Other highlights in the book include an amazing discussion on the merits of hypothetically having sex with either goats or sheep; a dare to steal a skin tag from an unsuspecting crew member; the mysteries of the red plastic; brilliant imaginary letters from Ray to the reader and The Gods; and a hilarious list of spam ingredients that include: unsold Shrek DVDs, broken dreams and kittens with mittens.

And speaking of spam, here’s a passage from the novel describing spam which I loved:

“I sat down on the floor and opened a sample can of God’s Meat with its little key. Its clear jelly bits soaked up a ray of sun coming through a plastic roof vent. F**king marvellous: like the beginning of the universe, really. Subtle beige chunks of tallow surrounded by pinkish grey mystery tissue: fine Roman marble!”

As much as I’ve talked a lot about the novel’s contents, it contains much, much more and these details are just the tip of an inspired comedy iceberg. I haven’t even mentioned how the teasing of a victim of Homeland Security by Ray inexplicably leads to nuclear armageddon or how a vintage t-shirt of The Cure and the misspelling of Harry Potter somehow become overly important plot points in the story.

Fans of Coupland will recognise his famous footnotes wittily explaining esoteric mentions by the characters, a plot device seen as far back as his first novel Generation X (which also riffed on an end of the world scenario), and Coupland’s humour from books like Microserfs, All Families Are Psychotic and jPod is here but amplified far beyond what you’d expect. This is a book where I was constantly smiling as I read it and literally crying with laughter in some scenes.

Worst Person Ever has an amazingly unique narrative voice in Raymond Gunt who thinks things like “Christ, how do people manage not to shag their own kids?” when embraced by his attractive teenage daughter Emma (but importantly just thinks it and doesn’t do anything further so it’s ok to still like him). The rest of the varied cast are incredible from his viper-like TV exec former wife with a grudge against him, his self-involved, disturbing mother, the brilliant Neal, and a revolving door of female characters whom Ray tries (often unsuccessfully) to get off with at inappropriate times much to the disgust of their boyfriends.

It’s a superbly written story that’s well-paced and never boring, hysterically funny, and genuinely inspired. It’s a novel you’ll want to force on people, not for its message, or anything else beyond the fact that it’s so damn entertaining that it’ll make anyone want to put down every other form of media to consume it. Worst Person Ever isn’t just the funniest novel of the year, or maybe the best book of Coupland’s career, but is also the best novel of the year. Impending nuclear annihilation was never so much fun!
Profile Image for Jason Pereira.
192 reviews24 followers
March 6, 2014

Coupland has you falling out of your chair laughing with this one. It's dirty and filthy, with just the right amount of artsy-edge to it, that you will want to pick this up again (like I did) for a second go of it!

Worst. Person. Ever

This is a story about a man with a load of self-respect, but, only he has that respect for himself. No one else shares it.

His name is Raymond Gunt.
Yes, I said Gunt, please don't make the mistake that others have made and pronounced his last name another way.....you know which way I'm talking about. Raymond is a b-unit cameraman who thinks he is the bees-knees, and God's gift to just about everything. One day, he is approached by his ex-wife, Fiona, who is...how can I say this without offending... not Raymond's biggest fan. She is a bigwig for a television company, and she finds the time to ruin poor Raymond's life with a slew of degrading assignments.

Don't feel too bad though, Raymond is a dick. He makes fun of just about everybody and everything. The reader is also introduced to another character by the name of Neal, who is down-right hilarious!
The character interaction throughout the novel will have to busting at the sides, though you should know, this book is not for the politically correct. Coupland goes for the gold with his nasty humour in Worst. Person. Ever. Some bashing, but not all, covers: fat humour, sexist humour, and the worst in my opinion - Buñuel Syndrome humor.

Indeed, this is not classic Coupland, but I am happy to see the lengths to which he is going for a cheap laugh. This book in no way compares to his previous masterful works, such as: JPOD, All Families are Psychotic, Miss Wyoming, Elenore Rigby, and those are only a few. He has lots of others that will make you feel things, nice and soft new puppy type of things.

I remember reading Microsurfs and almost crying my eyes out at that book; it was touching. So this one comes along and WHAM!, there goes all the touchy-feely-goodness that Doug has built up in his previous years, and now we get a nasty, raunchy, hell of a good time with Worst Person Ever. I also heard that he based his character, Raymond Gunt, on someone who he has recently worked with. Take THAT, whoever you are.

Five stars all the way for Worst. Person. Ever.
Profile Image for Karlene.
129 reviews
December 27, 2013

Maybe not the Worst. Book. Ever...but I'd have to say that no aspect of my life was improved by having read it.

I powered through the first half of this book, and I guess it did offer some mild form of entertainment value at first, but eventually I just got tired of eye-roll inducing phrases like "it probably tastes like a pocket calculator garnished with dried herpes juice flakes" or "do you have to be such a ripping cumfart about my situation?" It's not that I find myself offended by phrases like these in any way, but I am just missing the link of how using this kind of vocabulary equates to someone being the worst person ever? There are probably factors a lot worse than anything you'll read in this book that make someone a truly awful person.

As far as plot lines go, I liked where it was originally headed, but it just took forever to get there. And when you did get there, it was still disappointing. And then the ending happens, and you're like "wait, whaaaaaaa...?" I wasn't sure if the last 30 pages were trying to instil some sort of humanity to the main character, because it just didn't really seem to fit in with anything. I read in an earlier review, you never really get a sense of any character by the end of the book, and I think that was spot on.

I've read a lot of Coupland's earlier work, and truly enjoyed it. I just found the level of try-hardedness increasing from chapter to chapter. I don't want this to be interpreted as me hating the main character or thinking the events in the book were so horrible that therefore he did such a great job writing it. I mean, he wrote about some gruesome topics (incest, pedophilia, beastiality), but since the character never really acts on any of them, it was like Coupland brought them into the book to make the character seem more risqué, and expected the reader to be blown away by his use of "cleverly offensive" wording.

I didn't realize how much I really didn't like this book before writing this.
Profile Image for Dana.
440 reviews290 followers
June 8, 2014

This latest offering by Coupland doesn't disappoint. The writing is hilarious in an "I shouldn't be laughing at this" kind of way. It also made me wonder if I was also terrible person for agreeing with much of the main character's horrid actions.

This book was such a treat to read. Although mildly offensive, the main character is such a loser that you won't be that bothered.

My only qualm was that the plethora of definitions for commonly known items got annoying. However by the end of the novel the scattering of info tidbits grew on me.

Overall this was a completely ridiculous novel that was very amusing.

Note: I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Patrick.
286 reviews18 followers
August 14, 2015
I can't quite decide whether I've grown out of Douglas Coupland or he just isn't anywhere near as good as he used to be. Way back when, I loved Microserfs, was pretty keen on Girlfriend In a Coma, and even kind of appreciated Shampoo Planet. But more recently, I found The Gum Thief unremarkable, and wasn't at all sure what the point of JPod was.

And while this is far from the Worst. Book. Ever. it's still Not. Very. Good. A kind of surreal picaresque caper about a caricature of unpleasantness by the name of Raymond Gunt (I wonder if he's heard of Philomena Cunk?). A character who could have fallen out of Martin Amis' Money - or perhaps, more appropriately, Yellow Dog, off on the kind of madcap adventure that William Boyd wrote about in Stars and Bars. He's a second-string camera man, off to help film a reality TV show that sounds like a cross between I'm a Celebrity... and Big Brother on the island of Kiribati.

To lay to rest one criticism of this book, I think the Guardian's review, attacking it as racist, homophobic and misogynistic, missed the mark - mistaking the character for the book. Yes, Gunt is all of these, and more besides, but we're not meant to like him, far less agree with him.

No, the problem with the book is that it's a comedy that just isn't very funny. There's a running gag about sporks that sort of amused me (I feel he vindicates me in my insistence, when playing boggle, that foon is a word), and a good skewering of the all-encompassing low-grade awfulness of air travel. But it didn't pass the literary equivalent of the six laughs test. And as the book got gradually more ridiculous - there's a nuclear war (or not) and Gunt discovers he has children whose existence his wife has hidden from him, I was left wondering if Coupland was confusing being merely absurd for being funny.

Or maybe I'm missing the point and Coupland was not writing a screwball comedy, but a kind of art experiment concerning just how singularly unsympathetic a narrator readers can stay with over the course of a whole novel. Of which, all I can say is that it might have worked better as a short story.
Profile Image for Barbara.
114 reviews
November 27, 2013
In an age of political correctness, Raymond Gunt is like everyone's elderly relative whose offhanded derogatory remarks can hush a room.

Gunt's own brand of hatred isn't directed at any one specific population. He considers children a waste of time and money, heckles the obese and pokes fun at the intelligence of Americans.

But as much as Gunt is despicable, readers are also left rooting for the grumpy protagonist in Douglas Coupland's latest book "Worst. Person. Ever."

Karma throws a punch at Gunt when he decides to take a gig as a cameraman on a Survivor-style reality television show. He winds up triggering a nuclear war, leading him to fight to survive on an island where natives run in fear of him, food is scarce and his ex-wife is set out to destroy him.

A master of razor sharp cultural commentary, Coupland captures the absurdity of Gunt's society, set in our modern day world, throughout his latest novel. Readers can only chuckle at his sardonic takes on reality television, the online world and even the creation of combination kitchen utensils (i.e. the spork).

While Coupland always paints a larger than life version of reality, I find I can excuse his over-the-top scenes because they are just too hilarious. One of the greatest scenes in "Worst. Person. Ever." is when a homeless man forces Gunt to sing the lyrics of "Don't You Want Me" during a street fight.

Overall, I really enjoyed Coupland's latest offering. My only criticism is that the novel is jam full of action. The story isn't designed well for readers who may put down the book for days before returning to the complex plot.

Otherwise, Coupland proved once again why he is one of the greatest cultural commentators of our times.
Profile Image for Malia.
Author 6 books551 followers
August 29, 2017
This was my first Douglas Coupland book, and I think it will probably be my last. His style is one, I think, you either love or really hate. And for me, unfortunately, the latter was true. I don't like writing negative reviews, because every author puts a good deal of time and effort into creating a book, but the truth is just that not everyone's tastes run alike (thank goodness!)
One thing I will commend Coupland on is the rather apt title. Raymond Gunt is, quite frankly, pretty despicable. He is rude, has no shame, nor sense of dignity; he doesn't respect anyone, and treats most people with disdain or is downright mean to them. Coupland, I assume, is building up an extreme socially critical parody, picking on things like our obsession with looks, sex, money, ego, and making a mockery, really, of the human race.
Satire can be very amusing, thoughtful and clever, but I wasn't really able to laugh even once while reading this book. I wanted to see the humor in it, but all I kept thinking was, 'what the hell was the author smoking when he wrote this?' There is nothing redeeming about the way he portrays the world, and even if there's a lot of shit happening every day, there are good things and amazing people, too. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, and missing it's meaning entirely, but as a reader, that is my perogative. We read not to arrive at a pre-ordained conclusion in our minds, but to think and enjoy and wonder, don't we?
I suppose what I'm trying to say amid all this rambling is that I did not like this book.

Find more reviews and bookish fun at http://www.princessandpen.com
Profile Image for Colin Bendell.
Author 2 books6 followers
January 1, 2014
The book is probably better titled: "The. Person. The. Universe. Spites." The main protagonist, Ray, is not the worst person ever. Just very crass. I've met worse.

Quarter of the way through the book I was convinced that Ray was actually in a reality tv, not a camera man for the show and this would be the big reveal at the end of the book. Half way through I thought this book was going to be a profound editorial on our cultural obsession on permissive voyeurism. Then coupland tried to be novel and unique. He jumped the shark and gave his audience a lobotomy.

I think I'm over Coupland. I was a long time fan of his works in his earlier years, but the quality of his work appears to be declining as he re-uses old tricks and motifs.

Funny, Yes. Crass, Yes. Coherent, No.
Profile Image for Leanne.
204 reviews13 followers
February 24, 2014
This book was fantastic! I don't know if I have ever lol'd so much in 300 pages before! Granted, the end gets rather ridiculous, but if you want a book that you can learn absolutely nothing useful from, can suspend your sense of "sensible" and want to meet the worst human being ever- this is the book. Kudos Gunt, you are a terrible human being that gave me many a giggle.
Profile Image for Snotchocheez.
595 reviews322 followers
August 21, 2014

pooous POOH'-uhs (adj) 1. Filled with turds. 2. Composed of or resembling fecal matter.

The obvious epithet to use when slamming Douglas Coupland's latest novel has already been rendered trite from overuse (and, for me, isn't even accurate: "Worst. Book. Ever." ? No, this is not even the worst book I've read this year; Wally Lamb's stereotype-ridden miasma We Are Water has a firm grasp on that ignoble distinction.). Given I consider myself a long-time zealous fan of Coupland's prior work, Biggest. Disappointment. Ever. is much more apt a descriptor. I've found every one of the seven novels I've read of his at the very least quite funny, often hysterically funny (and dead-on accurate) glimpses of life and pop culture (maintaing two fingers on the pulse of human behavior, and all the funny quirks it exhibits)...until this shite (Yeah, pun intentional).

Allow me to use Coupland's own coined word, pooous to describe just how gawdawful the mess that Worst. Person. Ever. is. I'm not beyond scatological humor, but holy crap! (pun intended, sorry). How many bowel movement references (not to mention other nauseating human effluvia) can an author possibly cram into a novel and still be taken seriously? (Without going into details, I lost count at forty.) Then there's the titular superlative worst dude (ever), which the jacket blurb (unhelpfully) described as putting the "anti" in anti-hero (um, no, he puts the "anti" in antifreeze, like the feeling you get when you drink a gallon of it). Raymond Gunt's pointlessly vile misanthropy is played for laughs (which starts out with his referring to his ex-wife as a "leathery cumdump", and proceeds for 300 pages of inane comments directed at "tards", overweight (or otherwise "unshaggable") women, gays, etc.), but none of his commentary is even remotely funny. (big déjà vu experience, though: Herman Koch's pointlessly misanthropic protagonist Marc Schlosser in Summer House With Swimming Pool (another book I hated this year, but not as bad as this one), whose hatred for near-everyone is intended to be a creep-out, but is so over-the-top it's almost funny (if laughs can be managed whilst holding down bile); Raymond Gunt's schtick (in a polar-complementary sorta way to Schlosser's character) is supposed to be funny, yet elicits only yawns (and the occasional *erp* from keeping down bile) from me.

And then there's the oh-so au courant storyline, barfily introduced by Gunt like so:

...There I was, at home in South London, just trying to live the best I could--karma, karma, karma, sunshine and lightness!--when, out of nowhere, the universe delivered unto me a searing-hot kebab of vasectomy leftovers drizzled in donkey jizz.

Um...huh? WTF does that even mean? Anyways, Gunt hits up his leathery cumdump ex-wife Fiona, a TV casting agent, for a job, gets one as a cameraman on a Survivor-esque reality show, flies down to Kiribati (a UN-member island nation in the Equatorial Pacific region). Hijinks ensue! Zzzzzzz(*erp*)zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz(*erp*)zzzzzz

I can't begin to adequately describe how tossed-off (sorry, another effluvia pun, unintended) and uninspired this joyless piece of crap (pun intended) seems. All I can say is: read Generation X, Miss Wyoming, JPod, All Families Are Psychotic...hell anything else of Coupland's...and stay far far away from this pooous excuse for a comedic novel. You'll thank me later.
Profile Image for An Te Chu.
115 reviews8 followers
March 28, 2022
As potty mouthed as promised. As interesting? Not really.
Profile Image for Terri.
99 reviews1 follower
August 23, 2013
As a part-time bookseller, I VERY happily received an advance copy of this book for review (it is out in October). Coupland is a seriously talented writer. He has written both fiction (Generation X, J-Pod) and non-fiction (Terry Fox, Canada House I and II) amongst many other excellent books. He is also a talented artist (check out his Canada House instillation online-amazing!). Needless to say, I admire this guy a lot-he’s one of my favourite Canadian authors.

In this book, we are indeed introduced to the worst person ever, Raymond Gunt, as Camera B operator, who has just been hired by his ex-wife to work on a Survivor-style show in some steamy, equatorial location. He is allowed to bring along an assistant, but since he has no real friends, Ray decides to take the homeless man who accosted him the previous night. Once he is cleaned up, turns out Neil is handsome, well-educated and very successful with the ladies. What follows is a hilarious series of events as Ray and Neil work their way to the tropical island-where anything that can go wrong, does-for Ray that is.

If you are a fan of Coupland, you’ll love this book. Typical of him-intelligent, sarcastic, spot-on portrait of today’s society, and many of it’s problems.

11 reviews
October 3, 2013
I received this book from a goodreads giveaway, without having read any of Coupland's previous books.
Overall, I thought it was very funny and I look forward to reading more of his stuff.
The story itself is odd, even a bit silly at times, but I think that is (at least mostly) intentional. More importantly, though, I think the story is just not that important, by which I mean that the plot is really secondary to the writing - particularly the dialogue, which is consistently funny and occasionally hilarious (although definitely for adults only).
Put another way, the book is a bit like a (very funny) sit-com, in that the story is primarily a vehicle for a bunch of funny dialogue and commentary, some of which stem from the strange situations that the main character gets himself into and some of which could take place in any of a wide variety of contexts.
If you enjoy a bit of social commentary couched in a lot of adult humour and a heavy dose of irony, this book is absolutely worth the read.
Profile Image for John.
2 reviews
October 13, 2013
Worst. Coupland. Ever.

I've read every fiction title by Mr. Coupland and rank him as one of my favourite writers. There is lots to admire in this book, especially the clever cultural punctuations. What's missing for me is the way characters in previous novels are portrayed with a gentle if absurdist brush. This lot are sometimes funny but hollow in their vilified portrayal. I guess the title says it all.
Profile Image for Ghostxbiscuit.
44 reviews
November 26, 2013
When I first started reading this, I actually felt torn between being constantly offended by the nastiness that is Raymond Gunt and being amused by him at the same time.

This book had me in tears with laughter at times. I will never look at Macadamia nuts in the same way.

I've read almost all of Douglas Coupland's novels and short stories and have loved most of them. While this isn't my favourite of his works, I really enjoyed how he made me squirm.

Even though Raymond is the worst human being and deserves everything happening to him, at some point you still want bad things to stop happening to him, you wish for just a moment of triumph. Triumph however short lived will always turn into something even worse or even more humiliating for Raymond and it's both a good and a bad thing. I still ended up liking Raymond, despite all his flaws.

As for the ending, when I read it at first, I was a bit disappointed, because it felt sort of anticlimactic, thinking about it now, with everything that happens to Raymond during the story, a perfect happy ending, living responsibility free and in a normal world just wouldn't have worked for the character. In retrospect I'm happy with the ending he got, because Raymond is perfectly mediocre at best, he's not the kind of guy who you'll enjoy seeing riding into the sunset. He's the kind of guy, that needs an ending that's slightly less horrible than what he's been through, because no matter how good he has it, he's still going to mess it up somehow.

There are no happy endings for characters in most Coupland novels, only slightly less bad ones.
Profile Image for Jen.
95 reviews21 followers
September 2, 2016
I'm a grown-ass woman; this is adolescent garbage.

What a strange novel, which I was in no hurry to read until I heard Doug Coupland interviewed on CBC's Q, and I was actually moved when he spoke about kindness: If you have an inclination to kindness, then just do it, etc. So I thought there would be a message, a moral, a friggin' somethin' to this novel. But there is not. It's a mosiac of head injuries & shitting oneself. There's no dignity for the characters, and even less for the reader. What of the inventive swearing promised in the warning? Just tossing in the c word isn't fun enough for me. I love swearing. And I'm good at it. My standards are high.

Skimmed the last 100 pages, as I was numb to the repetitive stupidity. Which is good, because I was outta there before our hero's mother showed up. Ugh. To - I dunno - witness him partake in a 10-person orgy & cheer him on?

I'm left questioning my previous love of Eleanor Rigby. And Microserfs. And All Families Are Psychotic. And TERRY. WTF, Coupland?!?!? Nah, it's gotta be this Worst Person shit that's the outlier.
Profile Image for Leigh Matthews.
Author 5 books90 followers
October 11, 2013
Although this was engrossing at times it was usually just because so much keeps happening and it's a tad difficult to keep pace. It verges on being a bit too dudebro now and then, with Coupland seemingly more intent on showing off than actually creating realistic characters with whom you can have any empathy. In fact, not a single character is distinguishable by the end, with everyone seeming to have run at the mouth in some terribly clever fashion at some point, as well as occasionally developing a potty mouth for no real reason, and to have thrown all morals out of the window.

It's really quite a strange book that I fear would be read by those with no moral compass and common sense and used as something of a handbook for (an itinerant) life. When a book leaves you feeling like you need a shower and some kind of silent retreat, that's probably not a good sign.
Profile Image for GONZA.
6,360 reviews108 followers
October 21, 2014
This book is one of the funniest stories I've read recently or even in a lifetime. Ray is the worst person in the world, but definitely one of the funniest, not to mention his ex-wife, his ex-homeless friend Neal and his biological family. Coupland in one of his best performances.

Questo libro é una tra le storie piú divertenti che io abbia letto recentemente o anche in tutta la vita. Ray é la peggiore persona del mondo, ma sicuramente una delle piú divertenti, senza contare la sua ex moglie, il suo amico senzatetto Neal e la sua famiglia biologica. Coupland in una delle sue migliori prestazioni.

Profile Image for Abe.
264 reviews72 followers
March 15, 2017
I get it, Mr. Gunt is a pretty big Gunt and that's the point, but the rest of the characters seem to be Gunts as well; the story is incomprehensible, and every character's voice / dialogue is the same exact style as the narrator's. Not a well thought-out book at all.

The only page that expiates itself is the one that contains the million ludicrous alpha-numerical requirements websites set for your account passwords. The rest of this book is sheer drivel.
Profile Image for Jaclyn.
1,840 reviews5 followers
October 31, 2013
Page 152 and I can't. I just can't anymore. Then I skipped to the end to see if something happens to make it worth it and no. Bleah.
Profile Image for Louise.
401 reviews16 followers
August 14, 2015
Raymond Gunt is the Worst. Person. Ever! Raymond is a foul-mouthed man that speaks his mind without any regards to be peoples feelings. Ray who is behind on his rent decides to see his ex wife (Fiona) for a job as a B cameraman, luckily for him she gives him the opportunity to turn his life around and hires him, only the job is in Kiribati for a show called Survival(Pretty much I'm a celebrity get me out of here!)
A homeless guy, Neal, in which Ray started a fight with in the street is employed as his assistant and a friendship is born. Unfortunatley for Ray, life goes from worse to worse and Neal's just keeps getting better.
Things start going downhill from London airport where he gets caught up in all sorts of dramas such dropping an atomic bomb on the Pacific trash vortex!
I am really not sure about this book and how really to rate it, Coupland did a really good job in making me hate the vile-mouthed, sexist, homophobe that is Gunt. I also enjoyed how his life started going down hill but only because of what a horrible human being he is. The other characters in the book such as Fiona (Fi)is just the female version of Raymond and very unlikeable. My favourite character was Neal as he seemed the most genuine out of them all. I found the plot of this book, disasters and characters rather far-fetched.
Every couple of chapters there are subtexts with factual information with regards to the scenario's at the time.
This is Douglas Couplands fourteenth novel, and have to say that I am a bit apprehensive about reading any of his other works.
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