Along with being an active designer and famous author, Douglas Coupland can be described as a man with a vivid imagination. Or, at least how I can begin to describe him with regard to JPod, a novel written by Coupland and later published by Random House of Canada during 2006. Creating real life, but not at all typical situations for his characters, readers are taken on a long journey in just over five hundred pages. Narrated by main character, Ethan Jarlewski, Coupland tells a story of the reoccurring individuals in Jarlewski’s life; his co-workers, family and close friends, along with their not-so every day dilemmas. Described by my classmates as “annoying” or “difficult to pay attention” to, I could not help but disagree, as JPod kept me fully entertained from page one. Coupland’s sense of humor effortlessly translated to his writing urging me to continue flipping each page, allowing the book to fully consume my day. Yes, I can easily agree that perhaps Coupland’s storyline was a tad unrealistic; Jarlewski’s mother killing and burying a man she had a relationship with, his brother smuggling illegal immigrants into Canada, his father with a secret younger girlfriend, or his boss being kidnapped and brought to China, aren’t mainstream problems an average man would face in a short time period – let alone during a life time. But I can honestly say; I don’t think Coupland was aiming for an average novel. Based at a Vancouver video gaming company, Coupland exposed his readers to an online feel his characters were more than likely experiencing. Theoretically spamming the novel with their junk mail and time-wasting pages filled with useless numbers, Coupland added a modern twist to what could have been a standard novel, allowing his work to be extremely unique. Separating the novel into three parts, Coupland is able to expand his story in terms of time, fast-forwarding through to the future when need be. Critics would say Coupland could also be viewed as selfish towards the end of the novel by adding himself as a character into Jarlewski’s fictional life. This egotistic act by Coupland tops off an unrealistic novel with an even more impractical (but highly enjoyable) ending. I would recommend JPod to folks of all ages. Tactfully flowing from page to page with ease, readers are taken into the lives of each character while staying in the comfort of their own home.
Countless multivolume works, dissertations, scholarly and non-scholarly articles have been written in attempts to understand the current phenomenon of Generation I, the Internet Generation. University professors, Psychologists, and Social scientists have tried but have achieved little success in this venture. In 2006, along came a visual artist by the name of Douglas Coupland, who changed the landscape and architecture of appealing to a newer, somewhat misunderstood generation forever.
A national bestseller, JPod is the ninth novel written by Coupland in his authoring career. It explores the connection one has with life and family while encompassed by a world of accelerated technological advancement. JPod samples through the mass media diet currently being consumed by youth today as Coupland investigates and rummages through consumer culture and writes about it with authenticity and a touch of irony.
JPod begins with the sporadic life of Ethan Jarlewski. He is a video-game programmer on the verge of developing the next “big thing” in the gaming industry: an edgy skateboarding turtle named Jeff. Ethan and his five co-workers are stationed together in jPod, a nicknamed derived from the fact that all of them happen to share the letter “j” as their last initials. However, rest assured, Coupland does not give us any sort of ordinary work environment for our narrator. JPod is running rampid with office pranks and outrageous antics that distract from absolutely anything work related. From auctioning one another on eBay to inventing a hug machine to cope with stress, our JPodsters are a bizarre and entertaining ensemble.
Written with the architectural brilliance of an artist, JPod is a handbook for a generation.
Word Count: 282
The book JPod by Douglas Coupland is a book like no other, something unique and totally different that will keep you guessing what Coupland may throw at you next. Coupland bases his story on the main character Ethan Jarlewski who works with five other people as a team of video programmers in Burnaby. Ironically by some computer glitch in the computer system Ethan and his coworkers last names all start with the letter “J” who work in the same cubical to form JPod. Through this book we get to follow Ethan’s journey while he is working in JPod, through this he learns a lot about himself and the people who he surrounds himself with. As the books story line progresses you will find yourself questioning Coupland’s idea as an author and all of the strange things he adds into his book. This book will keep you guessing where Ethan will end up as one thing always leads to another as you try to put the pieces of this book together.
Like I said before this book is like no other, as soon as you grab the book and begin to flip through the pages you see some interesting things. Flipping through you see things like huge words plastered across the pages, pages with random numbers running through them and scattered lists along with interviews. Right away this may confuse you and some people may be turned away by it, but once you get into the groove of the book you see how all of this relates. Coupland as an author is very unique especially in the sense that he incorporated himself into the book as an actual character. This is something totally unique as it is something I have seen done before. Of course he boasts about himself and makes himself look good but it’s all in good fun. If you like funny books then this is a great book to snatch up, at times I actually found myself laughing out loud. Some things in this book are not idealistic like the ideas the people within JPod come up with for their computer game but it sure adds to the funny factor. This book not only gives you an in depth and behind the scenes look at people in the software industry, it gives you more than that, a story of finding oneself and always being there for your friends and family.
This book may surprise as it did for me, after reading the back and learning that the book was based on a software company didn’t exactly thrill me. But I have to admit this book was nothing what I thought it would be and surprised me with its funniness and story line that never had a dull moment. The way in which Coupland goes into great detail and always leaves you hanging for more is something that I loved about this book. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone. Who knows they may even be as pleasantly surprised about this book as I was!
Douglas Coupland’s JPod is a unique read. It is different because it is easier to read than most novels of this length. Characters are briefly developed and more pages are devoted to describing insignificant events that occur in the workplace; very little time passes on each page. Many events are described in great detail that are just the characters wasting time at work. The language used in the story is appropriate for the target audience. Today’s reader can comprehend the technological shot hand used and relate to the modern day challenges the characters face.
Douglas Coupland’s JPod, Ethan Jarlewski and his five co-workers work for a Vancouver gaming and software developer in a pod of cubicles that is their home for 14 hours of the day. Their pod is their team within the company; the half dozen of them thrown together by the incidence that all of their last names begin with the letter “J.” They do as little work as possible, and revolt against the marketing directors wishes to insert a turtle into their skateboard game by spending their time surfing the net for shocking things, writing up descriptions to sell themselves on eBay, freezing office items with liquid nitrogen, and adding a secret Ronald McDonald to the video game. Ethan’s home life is just as strange; his mother has a successful marijuana growing operation in the family basement, his father is trying to break into the movie business and has an affair with Ethan’s old classmate, and his brother is into get-rich-quick schemes which include smuggling Chinese immigrants.
Throughout the novel Ethan is called upon by both his family members and his pod members for help, whether it be to help bury a dead biker or house illegal people in his own apartment. He therefore appears to act as a unifying force that unknowingly holds together the complicated lives of the people around him. One character whose existence surprises the reader is Coupland himself, who appears at various points in the novel. This introduction of the author by the author in a work of his own novel seems to be a somewhat of a joke by a writer who enjoys them. Another interesting occurrence in the novel is the use of seemingly random pages filled with words and numbers that makes the reader unsure as to their significance in the otherwise straightforward story. Although these situations are surprising and to a great extent unheard of, Coupland is probably one of the few writers that could pull it off effectively.
Moreover, Coupland accurately depicts the dialogue of the early 21st century cubicle worker, the feelings of desolation mixed with irony. “All ideas are stillborn. The air smells like five hundred sheets of paper. And then it’s another day.” However, this is definitely not your typical novel, and therefore it is difficult to know if it would be accepted by all readers. Fans of Coupland will be pleased with JPod’s twists and deceivingly simple story lines, along with the mysterious pages with questionable relevance. Some readers, on the other hand, may be offended by Coupland’s depiction of 21st century workers and others will spend much of the book not really knowing what is going on. It is definitely not a book without risk, however Coupland’s innovation and unique style makes it an interesting and worthwhile read.
The novel JPod, by Douglas Coupland, is set in Vancouver, and centers around EthanJarlewski, his co-workers and other characters in his sphere of being. Ethan and his 5 co-workers, coincidentally all with a last name beginning with J, work at a large game design company, and have been grouped together in a cubicle arrangement called JPod. The story is mainly told from Ethan’s point of view, and follows his interactions with his co-workers, his mother who operates a marijuana grow-op from her home in the British Properties, his father who is a movie extra and whose passion is ballroom dancing, his real estate agent brother, a shady Asian businessman, and his boss. The action bounces from JPod and the video game they are developing, the games they play amongst themselves to avoid boredom, Ethan’s mother’s business problems, his father’s affair and resulting problems, a trip to China to rescue his kidnapped boss, his budding relationship with his co-worker Kaitlin, and eventually the unusual resolution and conclusion which includes a surprise character.
When a reader first opens the cover of the book, he finds that there is a narrative printed on the inside of the cover and continuing onto the facing page. The usual title page and publishing information does not appear until 2 pages later, and then printed sideways on the page. Also, scattered apparently randomly throughout the book, the reader will find pages which have large blank spaces and bold written characters and words, pages with the first 100,000 digits of pi, one intentionally blank, and various other pages which look different. Coupland uses this defamiliarization technique to get the reader to see things from a different perspective, to draw attention to what is usually ignored. Coupland sets the story in Vancouver, which is made obvious by allusions to places, events, directions, landmarks and things related to and relevant to Vancouverites. Coupland describes Ethan driving from the campus where he works to his parents’ home in the British Properties by taking two left turns and two right turns, which is correct if one knows where the campus is. Coupland discusses Chinatown, a drive out to Abbotsford, grow-ops and the heavy influence of Asian business and culture, all of which are very much Vancouver. Coupland also includes himself in the novel as a character, which is referred to by and interacts with all of the others.
When I read JPod, I found the blank or random word pages, the author’s invitation to play a game along with JPod (i.e. Find the non-regulation three-letter word in the list of allowable Scrabble three-letter words.) to be a distraction from the story, and I wanted to get on with the plot. I can see that Coupland wants to emphasize a different way to see things, but I felt that this method was somewhat juvenile, like he was trying to show how clever he is. However, all in all, I enjoyed my trip into the fantastical world of JPod.
JPod, a phenomenal book written by Douglas Coupland. The story primarily revolves around video game technology. The gaming company is producing a game being created by the main character, Ethan Jarlewski and his fellow co-workers. Working with his workers to produce the video game, BoardX, overlooked by Steve, the “head of marketing” (17). This reading will captivate all readers, regardless of their interest in video games or technology. One will be whisked away from familiar local landmarks of Vancouver to the harsh, humid weather of China, without having to buy plane tickets.
The story looks in depth of the Jarlewski family, which are a dysfunctional bunch. The father, Jim Jarlewski, is an on and off actor, playing small roles in films, primarily as an extra and as a voice actor. Greg, the elder son of the family, works as a real estate agent overseas and locally in the lower mainland. Then there is Ethan, who works at a video game company, with his co-workers forming JPod, where the J is the last names of all his workers. Lastly, is the mother, Carol, who runs a Marijuana grow operation underneath the basement. With the types of influences, such as Marijuana grow-ops, criminal activity, it reveals the shady side of the lower mainland.
In the story, there are many famous, popular culture influences that are mentioned widely throughout. How can there be a story, without some type of love/romance being included. We have the typical young love of Kaitlyn and Ethan, and the odd love triangle involving Steve’s infatuation of Carol, and Freedom. Then there’s the criminal activity of Kam Fong, the Chinese businessman, where tries to fix problems that numerous characters have on their hands.
As a whole, JPod was enjoyable and a refreshing read. This is one of the books where it is difficult to put down. An annoying area of the story is Douglas Coupland appearing during numerous scenes of the book. By giving the author the power to make himself a character, anything can happen, and believe me, interesting things did happen. The way Coupland incorporates all the characters into the story is creative, where the reader gets a sense of each character’s role and their certain quirks they possess. It’s very intelligent how an author incorporates himself into a book, but by making his character an arrogant and obnoxious, takes away some parts of enjoyment when reading.