love in the age of office superstores

Last night Lou and I attended the Coupland talk *in celebration of The Gum Thief* at the Bloomsbury Theatre.
I’ve seen Coupland talk at this venue twice previously, for the releases of Hey Nostradamus (the boy I was with at the time, fell asleep during this one) and J-Pod (at the time no-one had any inkling just how bad it would be. The audience were pretty much the same as every other time. A few people you look at and think you might be friends with, but mostly you wonder what it is that these people find to relate to in the books that you love. Yes – I am shallow, I judge people on appearance – don’t pretend you don’t. Actually, it’s not just appearance, it’s the annoying pre-talk chatter and lack of reference. I know I’m being a nazi about this, but you know how I feel about the Doug.

After a bumbling introduction by a Blackwells employee (oh, how I miss bookstore folk) he took the stage, and was as warm and random and softly spoken and funny and smart and sarcastic as he always comes across. This is one of my favourite things about him. That he is the exact way you imagine him to be. Rants about chinese killer toothpaste and the made in china sabotaged Boggle edition he had bought for his Boggle tournament ( 5 letter minimum, but be prepared to be laughed at if you do) admissions that the character Mr Rant is mostly based on him.

The curious thing about Coupland is that regardless of the fact that he has been doing this for 17 years, he never looks that comfortable doing so. There was less sharing of his internal monologue this time, some sweeping generalizations about his readers (they’re mostly Mac users with an IQ above 110) which was then disproved by the idiot London crowd (Even if you did own a PC would you raise your hand, proud of the fact? I know that in the past when I paid for my own computers I didn’t feel good about the fact) he talked a little about Helvetica and Sharpies and all the things that make the universe okay. Read mostly from Glove Pond, and towards the end, seemed to have some kind of revelation on stage, and announced that he thought that this was the last reading he was going to do. Seriously. He thought that this part of his life was over now.

This is what spurred me into actually getting in line for him to sign my book. I don’t usually do that fangirl shit, but if this was really the last chance I was going to get to meet him, I’d probably regret it forever.

Lou and I queued for about 20 minutes, all the while trying to disassociate ourselves from the couple behind us who kept trying to join our conversation. I actively try and look unapproachable, are these people completely socially inept? A brief exchange about how hideous jpod was led into them telling us how awful they thought Girlfriend in a Coma was. It was then that Lou and I turned around and ended any dialogue. Don’t ever say anything bad about my favourite book, ESPECIALLY not when you’re wearing bootcut jeans.

So, we met Doug, he was warm (like, blooded) he signed our stuff, commented on how my copy was dog-eared ( I bought it on the day of release, I’m a proper Coupland geek) took our picture (that was Lou’s idea – AND it came out with us looking all-kinds-of-special) and we said goodbye.

The way you feel after seeing him speak, is the way you feel after you’ve finished one of his books. Sort of content but melancholic and like you’re living in a slightly different universe than everybody else.

Walking through Russell Square a bag lady was throwing tiny torn up pieces of paper on the floor as she walked, like some kind of a bizarre breadcrumb trail. After she’d passed us and we inspected them more closely, we realised that they were tiny torn up pieces of porn.

There couldn’t have been a more fitting end to our Coupland evening than a bag lady throwing porn confetti.

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