Saturday, April 12, 2014

Player One: What Is to Become of Us

Player One: What Is to Become of Us (CBC Massey Lecture)Player One: What Is to Become of Us by Douglas Coupland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Reading this book right after another of Coupland's novels, Eleanor Rigby, was very strange. Enlightening, also, but strange. Especially after writing a review on Jhumpa Lahiri and how I don't care that all of her stories are the same, to see another writer write essentially the same story was affirmation that all writers do is tell one story, over and over again.

Yes, that's a brute simplification of a novelist and their work, but it's what we all do as humans: tell the same tale over and over, never quite getting it perfect. Where Eleanor Rigby starts off promising, with its character development and reflection on loneliness (before derailing a bit), Player One picks up the torch and goes even deeper with it. These are the same stories--told by different characters under different circumstances, yes--but they have same message: we all have a loneliness unique to us, but we have that loneliness in common with everyone.

Not that I searched very hard, but I haven't seen a lot (or any) comparisons between these novels, which strikes me as strange because I counted no less than 10 instances where Coupland reuses phrases, sometimes even entire sentences, or several sentences, from Eleanor Rigby in Player One. I'm sure as I continue reading Coupland I'll see that he does this across a lot of his works. He's writing the same story here--and I'm glad for that, because it's a better story. It's more nuanced, less weird, and it trusts what it has to say. While it's still a little weird, the structure of the novel (told over the course of five hours, from the perspective of five people) lends itself to the strangeness of the tale.

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