Blue Rider Press: 4/3/2014
Hardcover, 304 pages
Raymond Gunt likes to think of himself as a pretty decent guy—he believes in karma, and helping his fellow man, and all that other good stuff. Sure, he can be foulmouthed, occasionally misogynistic, and can just generally rub people the wrong way—through no fault of his own! So with all the positive energy he’s creating, it’s a little perplexing to consider the recent downward spiral his life has taken Could the universe be trying to tell him something?
A B-unit cameraman with no immediate employment prospects, Gunt decides to accept his ex-wife Fiona’s offer to shoot a Survivor-style reality show on an obscure island in the Pacific. With his upwardly failing sidekick, Neal, in tow, Gunt somehow suffers multiple comas and unjust imprisonment, is forced to reenact the “Angry Dance” from the movie Billy Elliot, and finds himself at the center of a nuclear war—among other tribulations and humiliations.
A razor-sharp portrait of a morally bankrupt, gleefully wicked modern man, Worst. Person. Ever. is a side-splittingly funny and gloriously filthy new novel from acclaimed author Douglas Coupland. A deeply unworthy book about a dreadful human being with absolutely no redeeming social value, it’s guaranteed to brighten up your day.
Worst. Person. Ever. by Douglas Coupland is recommended only for those who can appreciate an irreverent, profane, humorous commentary on modern culture that pushes all boundaries aside.
Raymond Gunt is the narrator and the titular awful person in Coupland's latest novel: "...Mr. Gunt, you are the worst human being I’ve ever met. The. Worst. Person. Ever.” (Location 1083)
Ray is a cameraman whose ex-wife, Fiona, gets him a job on an American reality show, Survival. Even though Ray is suspicious of her offer, he accepts, and recruits Neal, the homeless man who attacked him after he insulted Ray, to be his assistant. They are headed off to an island in the Pacific called Kiribati, via Hawaii. Along the way Raymond manages to insult just about everyone, while never shying away from the obscene or profane leaving mayhem and habitually using the f-word everywhere he goes.
Coupland noted at the beginning: "This book began, improbably, as an attempt in McSweeney’s to reinvigorate the biji, a genre in classical Chinese literature. Biji roughly translates as 'notebook' and can contain anecdotes, quotations, random musings, philological speculations, literary criticism and anything that the author deems worth recording."
While Coupland's humor is right on target, skewering pop culture and current PC sensibilities along the way, it takes a bit of will power and fortitude to take this journey. Not only do you have to be willing to laugh at Ray's antics and colorful language, you need to slog through the vulgar, crude, absurd and disgusting. Not all readers will be willing to undertake the monumental commitment to endure/ignore the language and commentary for the rewards the plot offers.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of Blue Rider Press for review purposes.