JPod by Douglas Coupland

After I read “All Families Are Psychotic”…or tried to, I was getting ready to give up on Coupland for a while. Every author hits a plateau where they either rehash their style, backslide into obscurity, or challenge themselves to try something different.

JPod is a fun read, mainly because it feels like Coupland is frustrated at being on the plateau and pondering where to go next. It focuses on a group of young slacker programmers, all working together by quirk of having last names that start with J. They’re busy trying to find ways to sabotage their boss’s latest addition to their skateboarding game while also trying to do as little work as possible. That, in a nutshell, is the large plot of the book. The tangential stories relating to the main protagonist (boy meets girl, boy’s Mom sells drugs and needs his help to cover up her crimes, boy’s father is addicted to ballroom dancing and is a struggling actor, boy’s brother is a real estate tycoon who gets him inadvertently involved with an Asian crime kingpin) are where the story shines.

Coupland himself makes an appearance in this book, and meta-narrative of the story (Coupland’s relation to the people he writes about) is an impressive piece of work.

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