Worst. Person. Ever.
By: Douglas Coupland
Format/Source: eBook; my purchase
Worst. Person. Ever. is a deeply unworthy book about a dreadful human being with absolutely no redeeming social value. Raymond Gunt, in the words of the author, “is a living, walking, talking, hot steaming pile of pure id.” He’s a B-unit cameraman who enters an amusing downward failure spiral that takes him from London to Los Angeles and then on to an obscure island in the Pacific where a major American TV network is shooting a Survivor-style reality show. Along the way, Gunt suffers multiple comas and unjust imprisonment, is forced to reenact the “Angry Dance” from the movie Billy Elliot and finds himself at the centre of a nuclear war. We also meet Raymond’s upwardly failing sidekick, Neal, as well as Raymond’s ex-wife, Fiona, herself “an atomic bomb of pain.”
Even though he really puts the “anti” in anti-hero, you may find Raymond Gunt an oddly likeable character.
One of the earliest Canadian authors I read growing up was Douglas Coupland. With a novel titled All Families Are Psychotic, how can one not pick up the book, you know? 😉 Anyways, I read that and Eleanor Rigby when I was in high school/early university and loved them both, but I never got around to reading anything else by him for…a decade? So anyway, this book was on sale so I figured it was time to read another book by him.
Well, on the one hand it’s signature Douglas Coupland in the sheer wackiness that ensues for Raymond Gunt. I mean, the man is a straight-up arsehole (and that’s putting it nicely, really) so in a sense everything that happens to him seems like karmatic justice for the way he’s treated people, but the ridiculousness that ensues for him is really zany and over the top, you know it’s a Douglas Coupland novel you’re reading 😛 And it is unapologetic in showing just how dreadful Raymond can be, complete with whatever goes through his mind.
Having said that, it can be tiring after a while. There is only so much zaniness one can go through, and Raymond overall doesn’t change much throughout the novel. There are these tiny glimmering moments of him exhibiting some morsel of humanity, of something more than his id thoughts and reactions, and I did feel for him when he ended up imprisoned because WTF, but otherwise yeah, I didn’t quite get the sense that he changed at the end.
Despite getting tired of the book fairly quickly, it hasn’t dampened my enthusiasm in getting around to his other books eventually. Would I recommend this book to first time Douglas Coupland novels? Definitely not, but I do admit that this book was intriguing just in a sense that the main character was just wholly dislikeable.