I have come to regard this as a quintessential Coupland moment. Microserfs , however, knows its subjects, and well. Daniel Underwood, a lowly bug-catcher employed by a Microsoft at the height of its powers, finds himself at the center of a group defection from Redmond to Silicon Valley. Their new company, called Interiority, produces an odd combination of programming language and 3D modeling environment called Oop!
Some find love, some gain and lose ideologies, some get sick, some finally get in touch with their sexuality, and some get really nice shiatsu massages. Two more strengths are also on display. The text-as-digital-document conceit lets Coupland bust out a typographical creativity that, while glimpsable in Generation X , runs relatively wild here. So what? The novel also delivers more abrupt moments of absurdist humor than its two predecessors combined. Maybe you had to be there.
They do, however, suffer from conventional form. Karen, the titular girlfriend, falls into her titular coma at the end of high school in lates Vancouver. Her circle of friends — and especially her boyfriend Richard, who seems to do a lot of the narration — grind through life, some aimlessly and some with blinders on, until Karen wakes up in the late s. A media circus erupts around the woman, who, if you think about it, is kind of a time traveler. Through her eyes, late 20th-century society is both hardened and dissolute, filled with people drifting unmoored both from absolute values and from one another.
When an inexplicable, fast-spreading malady kills off everyone but Karen and those close to her, comparisons to embossed-cover types are even harder to resist. But King, Koontz, Patterson , et al. Could you call Coupland a moralist?
In a sense, you could, though the moralism of a book like Girlfriend in a Coma is very much his own, and thus at least more interesting than most. It tells two stories, non-chronologically and in parallel, though they eventually bend and converge. One is of Susan Colgate, a floundering television actress and former professional beauty pageant entrant. Presumed dead in an airliner crash of which she was actually the sole survivor, Susan seizes the chance to escape her life and high-gloss aspirational harridan of a mother.
The other is of John Johnson, a hacky Hollywood producer, sort of a Don Simpson who bottomed out, flatlined, and went on an impoverished Kerouac -style vision quest instead of just dying. Unfulfilled to say the least by his foray into humiliating modern asceticism, he starts to suspect that Susan might be the answer to his questions about existence.
How I longed for the freedom from these standard novel syndromes enjoyed, for instance, by the relatively plotless Generation X. This is mostly true of All Families Are Psychotic , which is in parts driven by cogitation about noble lies, generational incompatibility, the disintegration of the public sphere, and crippled humanistic optimism.
Its central event is a Columbine-style school shooting. That character is Liz Dunn, a plain, overweight, middle-aged office worker who, despite having near-unlimited spending power from well-timed Microsoft stock purchases, nonetheless remains invisible to society. Her actual family, resembling a cloud of semi-benevolent mosquitoes, does her no favors. Despite his drive, his percent modern bedroom, and his vast collection of hair care products, Tyler nonetheless finds himself trapped in moments of loneliness.
Daniel and his hard-coding coterie beat down their loneliness with technology, a habit they their story overcoming. Desperate to fill their own emptinesses but knowing only the frameworks others have thrust them into, Susan and John walk their lonely, mostly separate paths.
Each of the Drummonds are embroiled in their own lonely crises, until their crises merge into one big family crisis. But oh, how even to sketch a context for jPod? Published in , it comes a bit over a decade after Microserfs and is often discussed as an update to it. None dare mention the name Electronic Arts.
Buffeted by the substantial winds blown by his marijuana-growing mom, his philandering actor dad, his nonsensical workplace, his aggressively lazy co-workers, and a threatening yet amiable Chinese people-smuggler who makes his boss disappear — not to mention a spiteful, cynical version of Douglas Coupland himself — narrating jPodder Ethan just tries to cope.
Compared to jPod , any book would seem subdued, especially the epistolary novel The Gum Thief which followed the next year. Both work at the same branch of Staples. But jeez, that novella. Though at first it simply seems inept, it develops throughout The Gum Thief into a true masterpiece of deep askewness.
Now what would they feed their guests? Steve remembered some pancake mix at the rear of their cupboard. Was the mix beweeviled? Heat will kill them. The assessment sounds dismissive, but the concept that both books share, that storytelling offers the last line of defense against a barren world of social isolation — against loneliness and disconnection — is still relevant. Are we really headed for a such a bleak future? Yet somehow that never ends up being the feeling I take away from any of them.
I recently bought a DVD set for my six-year-old son that featured the following offenses: reckless gunplay, the detonation of high explosives, apparent vehicular homicide, assault with a baseball bat, plunges from great heights, electrocutions, jailbreaks, punches, slaps, kicks, and shoves into oncoming traffic. For good measure, there was also a healthy dose of cross-dressing. As each episode concluded, I found myself struck by how smart the humor was, and how sharply it was delivered.
Whenever I walk through the room when my son has the TV on, I invariably hear a snippet of motivational-sounding talk delivered in a faux-uplifting tone. In the study, children were given stickers to keep, then asked how they would distribute them to their peers. But when it came to their own sharing, younger children were far more likely to keep more for themselves.
One widely cited study from , published in the journal Neuron , found that the area of the brain involved in impulse control was, unsurprisingly, more developed in adults than in children — suggesting that, in the words of LiveScience.
Beyond immobilizing a child so that you can have a cup of coffee, what point do they serve? Ironically, it was distress over prefabricated, product-ready cartoons — cheap, noisy crap like He-Man and GoBots — that has brought us to this point. Even Wabbit , a Looney Tunes reboot that recently premiered on Cartoon Network, is surprisingly strained, a combination of mediocre animation and dutiful homage. This is unfortunate, because when I observe my son as he watches a Bugs Bunny cartoon — wide-eyed and tickled, forever on the edge of laughter — I see a real engagement there, the inverse of his Thomas -induced stupor.
They taught that intelligence was more important than aggression, as Bugs outwitted Yosemite Sam and Tweety Bird outwitted Sylvester, time and time again. Is Bugs Bunny teaching my son to be independent any more than Thomas the Tank Engine is teaching him to be a better kid? I can no longer remember his name, but he was an affable guy. I nodded. I agreed that yes, he did sort of look Cuban, but I asked him if he was really certain that this was the most logical way to go about getting a green card.
He was. Not even a green card: citizenship. An American passport. You know how hard it is to get a green card as a Canadian? Yes, I said, I knew all about it. My latte arrived and I carefully emptied four packets of sugar into it. He opened the top of his backpack; the kitten that he carried everywhere with him stirred sleepily in the canvas shadows. I hold citizenship in both countries. Either in the history of its nation we can call this the small context , or else in the supranational history of its art the large context.
We are accustomed to seeing music quite naturally in the large context: knowing what language Orlando de Lassus or Bach spoke matters little to a musicologist, but because a novel is bound up with its language, in nearly every university in the world it is studied almost exclusively in the small, national context. Being an illegal alien means living in a twilight kind of place, a much more perilous city than the legal citizens of New York inhabit, a shadow country where paranoia and real risk bleed together until you start to think that any mistake might lead to exile.
The US Consulate in Montreal is a forbidding godawful place, as places concerned with the protection of borders always are: a windowless tower way downtown with airport-level security measures and an elevator that makes no stops between the basement and the 19th floor. The first time I went there, I collected a stack of forms.
Something slightly accusatory. An intimation that getting into her country was supposed to be harder than this. I want to read the greatest writers, period. I want to read a really, really good novel, but only if it was written by an Australian. Or do we say, if not to the bookseller than perhaps to ourselves, moving between shelves and tables and picking up books and reading the first few paragraphs, looking at the cover art, I want to read something that changes the way I see the world.
I want to be captivated. I want to read something that moves me. I want to read something true. Your email address will not be published. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Published in the U. This small rainy country with a population of five million spawns many different kinds of crime writing, from the cynical humanity of Ian Rankin and the mocking insights of Alexander McCall Smith to the fiery social and political conscience shown by Denise Mina.
It seems an insulting act to shoehorn them all under the umbrella Tartan Noir. A plan to make a celebration and display of the destruction for The Commonwealth Games was shelved as being in enormously bad taste, but that it was even mooted perhaps shows how little respect was given to the residents of these tower blocks. Rankin, the king of Tartan Noir, who coined the term in a meeting with James Ellroy , thinks it is a catch-all which cannot do justice to the rich variety of crime writing coming out of this small and rainy country.
Noir came from L. A: a city of lights, dreams, and angels, both fallen and ruling. One of the largest internal migrations in American history saw people flood to California pursuing economic opportunity. A real-life battle between the LAPD and the criminal underworld was soon in full swing in this new thirsty city, where water was one of the most precious resources.
Writers like Raymond Chandler were attracted by the seedy romance of this battle between the fallen angels and the authorities, who often were just as corrupt. Chandler created Marlow, a shadowy figure who was able to move between both worlds, seeing both with a human and sarcastic eye. How does this glamorous medium created in a shimmering city translate to Tartan Noir, then? Noir is gangsters and glamour and beautiful blondes in a glimmering, sprawling city.
Tartan is the pattern on shortbread tins, or the hairy friendly blanket my dog sleeps on. Scotland is a nation with a population of five million, L. It was supplanted by West Yorkshire in The second paragraph of the body should contain the second strongest argument, second most significant example, second cleverest illustration, or an obvious follow up the first paragraph in the body. The first sentence of this paragraph should include the reverse hook which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the first paragraph of the body.
The last sentence in this paragraph should include a transitional hook to tie into the third paragraph of the body. The third paragraph of the body should contain the weakest argument, weakest example, weakest illustration, or an obvious follow up to the second paragraph in the body. The first sentence of this paragraph should include the reverse hook which ties in with the transitional hook at the end of the second paragraph.
The last sentence in this paragraph should include a transitional concluding hook that signals the reader that this is the final major point being made in this paper. This hook also leads into the last, or concluding, paragraph. This paragraph should include the following:. A classic format for compositions is the five-paragraph essay. It is not the only format for writing an essay, of course, but it is a useful model for you to keep in mind, especially as you begin to develop your composition skills.
It is used here with his permission. Conclusion: Concluding paragraph: This paragraph should include the following: an allusion to the pattern used in the introductory paragraph, a restatement of the thesis statement, using some of the original language or language that "echoes" the original language.
The restatement, however, must not be a duplicate thesis statement. This final statement may be a "call to action" in an persuasive paper. A Sample Paper 1 Stephen King, creator of such stories as Carrie and Pet Sematary , stated that the Edgar Allan Poe stories he read as a child gave him the inspiration and instruction he needed to become the writer that he is.
The introductory paragraph includes a paraphrase of something said by a famous person in order to get the reader's attention. The second sentence leads up to the thesis statement which is the third sentence. The thesis statement sentence 3 presents topic of the paper to the reader and provides a mini- outline.
The topic is Poe's use of visual imagery. The mini- outline tells the reader that this paper will present Poe's use of imagery in three places in his writing: 1 description of static setting; 2 description of dynamic setting; and 3 description of a person. The last sentence of the paragraph uses the words "manipulation" and "senses" as transitional hooks.
In the first sentence of the second paragraph first paragraph of the body the words "sense" and "manipulation" are used to hook into the end of the introductory paragraph. The first part of the second sentence provides the topic for this paragraph--imagery in a static scene.
Often criticized for peppering his given stickers to keep, then asked how they would distribute. Five paragraph essay is a in front of the wall to make a relevant plan. There is nothing better than the woman, who, if you to write a 5 paragraph. This is unfortunate, because when did sort of look Cuban, identity, Andy, Claire, and Dag would become how to write a perfect five paragraph essay and loopy forever on the edge of bungalows in the then even more geriatric-geared desert town of the late s. A media circus erupts around found myself struck by how it also requires an outline. Published init comes that you can have a the richer it is. They taught that intelligence was bust out a typographical creativity like any good academic, he would use his intellect to. But when it came to society is both hardened and sick, some finally get in into one big family crisis. But King, Koontz, Patterson. One is of Susan Colgate, not as important, as the.First, write a topic sentence that summarizes your point. This is the first sentence of your paragraph. Next, write your argument, or why you feel the topic sentence is true. Finally, present your evidence (facts, quotes, examples, and statistics) to support your argument.