Douglas Coupland - Worst. Person. Ever.
- Paul Gallagher
- 20 September 2013
The Generation X author lets out his filthy side to hilarious effect
Since his hugely influential 1991 debut Generation X, Canadian author Douglas Coupland has proven himself an expert at appraising the life and culture of the affluent, technology-infused West with scathing humour and subtle compassion. For his 13th novel, Coupland has rightly sensed the need to do something different, and has opted for gleeful irresponsibility. In Worst. Person. Ever. he forgoes depth and substance for the chance to loosen all restraints and behave badly. He does so in the voice of Raymond Gunt (really), an English cameraman whose capacity for obscene commentary on life, women and the world at large knows no limits.
When Gunt takes a job from his TV producer ex-wife Fiona (‘the Anti-shag’) on island-based reality show Survival, a series of increasingly ridiculous world-changing events is set in motion. What follows is like an inverse Forrest Gump as Gunt travels from one bizarre encounter to the next dispensing sarcasm and invective, told through the mucky filter of his sex-obsessed stream of consciousness.
Coupland’s previously unexplored ability to reel off filthy zingers is stunning, and often hilarious, but his greater achievement is in making Gunt both wholly despicable and strangely sympathetic. That said, this is certainly not a novel for readers with a low tolerance for vulgarity; to say Gunt revels in profanity is putting it lightly. If Coupland set out to tell the dirtiest joke he could think of, he has definitely succeeded. It’s funny, even if it is just one long joke.