All of culture is being sucked down the plughole and the philistines can't hear our screams! Bad books, bad movies, bad art. Novels are no longer about thinking, they're just vortices of cliche. The race is now on to write the Worst. Book. Ever. And this may be it.
Worst. Person. Ever.
by Douglas Coupland
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Douglas Coupland is not a terribly careful writer, though in the more compassionate Generation X, published back in 1991, he coined some good terms, including "McJobs". One must assume his stance is still vaguely honourable and that he intends Worst. Person. Ever. to be some sort of critique of mass culture. But if this book is satirical, it hides it well. An ironic hamburger is still (usually) a hamburger.
Through total immersion in the banality it purports to expose, his new novel out-sarcasms itself. Like Chuck Palahniuk's Snuff, it's determined to gross you out, offering a barrage of sexism, homophobia, shit, vomit, sputum, and all the other stuff of adolescent humour. Worst. Person. Ever. can only appeal to people who like to hear women belittled, and everything trashed – and it's hard to see the necessity for it when we've already got plenty of trash and belittled women.
The picaresque plot is beyond kooky. The narrator, Ray Gunt (pretty funny, huh?), is a middle-aged west London git, a TV cameraman who lives in squalor, hates everybody, longs to be Jason Bourne, and has a thing about cutlery. He bears a close resemblance to Ricky Gervais in The Office, though Gunt is permitted more obscenities.
It's when he visits his "leathery cumdump of an ex-wife", "the Anti-shag", that things start to go wrong, or, as Gunt puts it, "the universe delivered unto me a searing hot kebab of vasectomy leftovers drizzled in donkey jizz". He gets a new assignment on the remote islands of Kiribati, where he's supposed to help film a (yawn) survival TV show. But 150 pages later, he's still...
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