the observer Sat 06 September 2008
By all accounts - first and foremost his own - Roger is a loser: middle-aged, overweight, mean, alcoholic, messily divorced. He records his private misery, along with the drafts of his novel Glove Pond (imagine Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton in their prime: all wit, scotch and marital strife) in a notebook, then leaves it in the staffroom of the office supplies store he works at. Luckily for him, Bethany, the chubby goth girl in charge of the Post-It products and 'social stationery' aisles, finds it before anyone else. Bethany's not doing much better than Roger, living as she does with her utter screw-up of a mum. Together they stumble towards salvation, but Douglas Coupland steers admirably clear of sentiment. His clever, prickly, witty observations make an ugly world not only bearable, but beautiful.
the guardian Fri 05 September 2008
Working at Staples, among the tons of Post-it notes and ballpoint pens, is not, if Coupland is to be believed, that much fun. Tired of their neon-lit, customer-dodging lives of frustration, middle-aged alcoholic Roger and pensive young goth Bethany find an exit route of sorts when Bethany discovers Roger's diary and is put out to discover he has been writing entries pretending to be her. So she starts adding to its pages herself and the stage is set for a morose repository of creative writing, furious bitching and heartbreaking asides. Roger's extended riff about two Scotch-glugging would-be wits includes a wonderfully ornate account of the life of a piece of toast that in a moment sums up life's missed chances, cul de sacs, "staleness and lost elasticity". Bethany replies with constructive criticism, food parcels and letters from a trip to Europe. Coupland's pastiches are affectionate, and his novel's occasionally irksome structure is redeemed by some lovely moments of pathos, in which everyday struggles are given a proper and touching weight.