It’s Art and Not the Kind You Expect

by Ardavan

Six character’s whose last name begin with the letter “J” were assigned the same cubicle pod due to a computer glitch in Douglas Coupland’s 500 page novel, JPod.  This is no ordinary novel. The format which Coupland chose to write is a complete 180 degree turn from your typical book.  Irritating? Some may consider it be so, however it offers a satisfactory comedic plot. JPod is based on stereotypes that tend to dwell in Vancouver; it also serves as the fuel to Coupland’s comedy. Vancouverites and locals alike would find the comedy along with the satire more appealing than others would.


Ethan Jarlewski, the main protagonist along with his five co-workers work for a fictional video game company that is based in Burnaby, BC. Ethan is one of the few characters that offer depth in this novel.  He has a very dysfunctional family that offers much of the comedy throughout this book. A mother that operates marijuana grow-up, a father that wants to be an actor and a brother who is a real estate agent that gets involved in crime. This humorous combination of careers that encompass Ethan’s family is portrayed through satire. The satire is related with the stereotypes surrounding the west coast of Canada. The stereotypes Coupland plays on revolve around the marijuana culture surrounding Vancouver. In addition gaming and computer stereotypes are also widely used. The main plot however is about the development of a game that faces a series of problems, because of issues at work. Everything works well in the novel except the format which the book is laid out. Beginning right of the bat a reader notices irritating letters that are exceptionally large. Following pages include symbols, numbers and complete nonsense. The number pi for example is expressed through a couple of pages in this novel. It is literally just numbers on a page going on and on. Regardless of the nonsense there are also parts which the reader can be indulged in and taken through time consuming mini-games. The reader can opt-out from the time consuming parts at anytime and continue with the plot.  The format is irritating but it’s also a form of art within a novel. It’s something new and fun for everyone. There are also cases which Coupland inserts himself into the novel only to be ridiculed by the characters. The reasoning behind his method of manipulating plot is unclear, yet it’s sure entertaining and something new for the reader.


Overall, JPod is the type of novel that you either hate or love. The irritating ways of Douglas Coupland can be interpreted in many ways. For example, art, comedy and satire are just some of the many ways what JPod has to offer. The people who are familiar with the works of Douglas Coupland such as Generation X and Microserfs will in no doubt fall in love with JPod and hold it in high regard. However, for the people who are used to regular novels and have never crossed any Coupland’s works then they might find this irritating and not the best read.

Recommended, only if you want to go out of your old ways and read something new.


Word Count: 529



Coupland, Douglas. JPod. Toronto: Random House Canada, 2007. Print.


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