One Hell of a Dysfunctional Family!

by walden91

Douglas Coupland’s novel JPod is a novel that follows the abnormal everyday life of Ethan Jarlewski, and his team of video game programmers whose last names all begin with the letter “J” (Jesperson, Jyang, John, Jackson, Joyce). JPod explores Ethan’s dysfunctional family, where his stay-at-home mother runs a marijuana grow-op and his realtor brother Greg is involved with an Asian crime lord named Kam Fong. The book takes a dramatic turn when their marketing manager, Steven Lefkowitz, starts to develop feelings for Ethan’s mother and then suddenly goes missing. Lefkowitz’s replacement begins to sabotage their new game “BoardX”, prompting Ethan to discover what happened to Lefkowitz. Ethan then begins to date the newest addition to JPod, Kaitlin, who develops a hugging machine after researching how autistic people enjoy the sensation of pressure from non-living things on their skin. The book slowly closes with Ethan visiting China to bring back a now heroin-addicted Steven to Canada and try and get him his old job back in upper management.

What was most appealing to me in JPod was Coupland’s constant insertion of literally crazy events: one example being when his mother electrocutes a biker named Tim during a drug deal “I rigged up this corner of the room so that if I ever got into trouble, I could electrocute anybody standing in that puddle” (23). Another example would be when Ethan and his mother went to collect a fifty thousand dollar drug debt from another biker named Lyle. Words led to actions and it ended with a dog being shot (Gumdrop) and Ethan’s mother getting bitten down to the shin bone (128). This is just a taste of what goes on throughout the novel and what certainly keeps you from falling asleep.

Aggravation came to mind in JPod with Coupland’s intrusion of random pages: for example pages of prime numbers with one non prime number embedded, random Google results, spam e-mail phrases, and pages of pi printed with one wrong digit (383). This absolutely puts you off your train of thought and is just annoying.

This fictitious novel is for those who would enjoy reading something completely over-the-top with an absurd set of events. But who also don’t mind reading five hundred plus pages, half of which are aimless pages that distract you from the plot.

Word Count: 384

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