by katieshee

The eccentric Douglas Coupland’s ninth novel, Jpod, exhibits his satirical wit in union with his social awareness. The unconventional characters surrounding narrator Ethan Jarlewski, at a Vancouver video game design company, make for interesting interactions throughout the novel. In the opening section, the reader is subliminally introduced to Ethan’s coworkers, the foundation of what is known as JPod, as well as his peculiar family.
The reader is essentially dropped into JPod- the workspace where Ethan and his colleagues spend endless days distracting themselves from reality. Their boss, Steve, has assigned these six companions, whose last names begin with the letter “J”, a task they find unbearable. He imposes upon them the duty to insert a friendly turtle into a skateboard video game; instead they amuse themselves by writing letters hypothetical love letters to Ronald McDonald, experimenting with liquid nitrogen and intentionally aggravating one another. When Ethan is not wasting time at JPod, he is often handling his unruly family. His mother, whom runs a grow-op out of her West Vancouver home, accidentally kills a biker in her basement and calls upon Ethan to help drag him out and bury him, in the opening section. Equally demanding is his father, a movie extra who consumes his time hoping for a speaking role, who expects Ethan to be at his beckoning call at any time. What is more, Ethan is found dealing with twenty Chinese refugees that his skeptical real estate agent brother Greg has hidden in his Chinatown apartment.
Coupland’s innovative approach to character development was rather refreshing in that the reader was able to uncover each characters personality by the way they represented themselves; for example, Ethan challenged the JPodders to use five hundred words or less to sell themselves as if they were on eBay and asked them to write hypothetical love letters to win Ronald McDonald. Through this we uncover interesting self-expression of the six characters, for instance, JPod member Bree advertises the size 36D bra that she is wearing in her eBay ad, while “Cowboy” claims he has been “extensively reconditioned by a recently vacated ex-girlfriend”. Coupland explores the quirky and unusual personality traits, rather than the customary characteristics, of his key characters presumably in order to engross the reader.
For unexplained and seemingly pointless reasons, Douglas Coupland inserts himself into the novel as a character. At one point he dubs Douglas Coupland, the character, an “asshole” and then we see him reoccur when Ethan is on a plane to China, rather irrelevant to the plot. A further annoyance to the reader may be the pages upon pages of strange, meaningless material like the 8,636 prime numbers between 10,000 and 100,00, Chinese characters for random words, and general ineffective vocabulary.


One Comment to “MëëT JpØД

  1. I like what you’ve said here it is similar to mine. Some people have pointed out the annoyances of the book but you firstly highlighted the characters as a large and interesting part of the book and this is something I found important and enjoyable too! And yes, we all seemed to be somewhat unimpressed with the meaningless material between the pages but I did find that it brought somewhat of a different feeling to the book.

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