Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Book Review: Player One by Douglas Coupland (2010)

What Is To Become Of Us?

Player One by Douglas Coupland

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Blurb: 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 human contact; and finally a mysterious voice known as Player One. Slowly, each reveals the truth about themselves while the world as they know it comes to an end.

In the tradition of Kurt Vonnegut and J. G. Ballard, Coupland explores the modern crises of time, human identity, society, religion, and the afterlife. The book asks as many questions as it answers, and readers will leave the story with no doubt that we are in a new phase of existence as a species -- and that there is no turning back.

Thoughts: So oil is expensive, people go crazy, strangers lock themselves in to an airport hotel cocktail bar to survive the fallout, Douglas Coupland documents this scenario in 'real time' and helps you take a long hard look at yourself and what it is that you are doing, what we as a species are doing.

It's part depressing, part uplifiting, part pessimism, part optimism, all of it is pure Coupland. I'm at a loss to explain this book, to analyse it, to find words that describe my unique experience with this author and his style of writing. Most people that I know are women and they dislike Coupland, it seems they think he is for men, not in a male version of chick-lit way, but they seem to think there's an element of the late teenage boy in his style.

I guess that is a compliment, meaning his observations of contemporary behaviours and the evolution of the mindset of the youth and their interaction with the world and technology are accurate.
"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..."

The world of Player One is presented as a form of dystopia before the apocalyptic events occur and in the course of his narrative Coupland questions the readers beliefs and assumptions on a wide range of subjects. Almost every page holds a line, a paragraph, an idea worthy of being drawn to your attention, of deeper longer thought being applied to it. The comparison to Vonnegut from the books blurb is no hyperbole, it is an impressive piece of 21st century literature indeed.

I love the work of Douglas Coupland, of his more serious work this is his finest achievement to date and a book I recommend for all. Even those women who consider him too male for their tastes.

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  1. This sounds fascinating. I'm making a note of it, but I've promised myself I'd finally read The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye (I know, I know) before I read anything else.

    1. Don't worry, those two books have about 300 pages combined. You'll be finished in no time!