I like the writing of Douglas Coupland, he’s like a lightning rod for the zeitgeist for the knowledge economy. I’ve grown up and moved through my career with his works as a kind of literary soundtrack playing in the background. His writing moves from the monotony and empty-sadness of generation x in the 1990s through to the surreal humour of the present day.
jPod is an updated world-view that builds upon Microserfs and Generation X. It is has a certain amount of recursion to these works and Douglas Coupland also appears in the book as a character. This recursion and self-referencing is fun for loyal readers and mirrors modern culture with its hipsters wearing ironic trucker caps, drain pipe jeans and Lynyrd Skynyrd t-shirts and listening to bad mash-ups of 1980s music radio fodder.
The non-linear, multi-voice, collective approach in writing mirrors modern environments were online predominates. The only downside to this was that I was quite happy to put the book down and not revisit for a fair while because there wasn’t the same sense of suspense or urgency. The book took me four weeks to read, not because it was hard or inaccessible and I did enjoy it – I guess this drifting along is an analogue to the life that Coupland is trying represent.
The Hiaasen-like fantastic dark humour of jPod mirrors a society facing world-war three in the Middle East, global warming and the meltdown of the relationship between employer and employee where not even greed can be trusted anymore.
Deep down there however is the essential truth about the Kafta-esque nature of working in a knowledge economy company, particularly software or web services. The politics aren’t right, but they’re close enough.