Monday, March 6, 2017

Bit Rot

Bit Rot: stories + essays by Douglas Coupland
Penguin Publishing Group: 3/7/17
eBook review copy; 432 pages
ISBN-13: 9780399575808

Bit Rot: stories + essays by Douglas Coupland is a very highly recommended thought provoking eclectic collection of over 65 essays and stories. "'Bit Rot' is a term used in digital archiving that describes the way digital files of any sort spontaneously (and quickly) decompose. It also describes the way my brain has been feeling since 2000, as I shed older and weaker neurons and connections and enhance new and unexpected ones."

I enjoyed the intermingling of the essays and the stories in this very diverse and satisfying collection. The pieces range from insightful to personal to witty to hilarious, and include a level of perception and depth along with technological and cultural observations. I will admit that I liked the essays more than the short stories, but a few of the fictional pieces stood out. Almost all of the essays were winners (with the exception being the Google searches, although it was interesting).

Anyone familiar with Copeland's writing knows that he has an exceptional way with words and a unique way of observing the world. It is all evident here. Normally I try to avoid including quotes from review copies, but these pieces are finished and previously published. The quotes will give you a taste of what Copeland has served up in this collection:

A common question I ask people whenever film discussions come up is, "What is the movie that scared the shit out of you when you were eleven or twelve - the film that you were probably too young to watch, but you watched it anyway, and it totally screwed you up for the rest of your life?" Everyone’s got one. Mine was Lord of the Flies, but other common answers are The Exorcist and Event Horizon. The point is that we all know that magic window in time when one is most susceptible to fear." (This is a great question to ask people. I know my older brother took me to a movie...)

Last summer in Reykjavik, I learned that one in ten Icelanders will write a novel in their lifetime. This is impressive, but the downside of this is that each novel gets only nine readers. In a weird way, our world is turning into a world of Icelandic novelists, except substitute blog, vlog or website for novel - and there we are: in Reykjavik. (As a long-time blogger, I actually laughed aloud over this.)

It turns out that smell is a vector, and for every smell there exists an anti- smell, and the anti- smell of human death is artificial cinnamon. You learn something new every day, and this is what you learned today.

The slowness and cluelessness of some Starbucks staff drive me insane. I want a brewed coffee, here’s two dollars, so come on, just pour the damn thing. Starbucks needs an express lane. Do they ever count how many customers leave because they don’t want to wait for ten minutes behind useless people ordering complicated, useless beverages? I think they must.

I don’t know if it’s me or what, but having to speak to college students is like having to address a crowd of work- shirking entitlement robots whose only passion, aside from making excuses as to why they didn’t do their assignments, is lying in wait, ready to pounce upon the tiniest of PC infractions. (This translates to employees that are students too.)

Worrying about money is one of the worst worries.... Worrying about money is anger-inducing because it makes you think about time: how many dollars per hour, how much salary per year, how many years until retirement. (oh yeah.)

Disclosure: My review copy was courtesy of the Penguin Publishing Group.

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