Blog prompt 3: The Gum Thief

Choose a scene from the novel that you think is either crucial to the development of one of the larger themes in the novel or to understanding one of the book’s characters.  After quoting the passage (include the page number as well), explain in detail why this scene is so important. What does it reveal? How does it connect to the novel as a whole?

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31 Responses to Blog prompt 3: The Gum Thief

  1. Scott says:

    “I asked what sort of trouble, and she said, ‘Unhappy trouble–depression, maybe? Alcoholism? He hasn’t been to work in a week.’
    I almost smiled. It was so sweet of her to believe that your disaster of a life was something brand new rather than something that had been playing itself out over many moons. She was so green that I asked her to sit. ” -Page 143

    This passage from The Gum Thief stood out to me, because it highlights the key issue in my mind of how one views the characters, and how that leads to interpretation of characters. Failure seems to be an oft-discussed theme within this book, and what constitutes failure is at the heart of that issue. If we are to see Roger as Joan does here, it is through a lens of utter failure. Throughout the book, the more we learn about Roger, the more he has “failed.” He has failed in marriage, occupation, personal health, personal responsibility, etc. Joan’s view of Roger is one of complete and utter failure. Yet is that what is actually going on? Joan seems to take almost sadistic joy in enlightening Bethany as to what a terrible failure Roger actually is, actually laughing at his alcoholism the next paragraph later. Bethany does not share the predisposed lens in her view of Roger, and the way they interact is quite different. In fact, Bethany seems to be giving more credit to Roger’s words than nearly anyone else in his life. She reads what he writes, responds to his words, sympathizes with his jokes, and they have what is to them at least a fairly healthy relationship and exchange. She appears to not dismiss his works and words merely because of things than are not immediately relevant, such as alcohol and drive for “success.” While Roger’s life may not always be filled with sunshine and gumdrops, he does not encounter everything he sees with an attitude of failure. He doesn’t seem to hate himself, and he is able to find joy in some things. While it may be unconventional, he doesn’t seem to be infinitely far from finding satisfaction and happiness in life. The supposedly successful character that mirrors Roger’s failure continues her letter to Roger with nothing but various ways of tearing down and berating him. She mentions the fact that Bethany might care a tiny bit about Roger as something that is almost laughable and a complete waste of time. She, from her “winning” situation of remarriage, custody, and “happiness” can find nothing to say but “speaking of your pity party, Roger, get on with your life, ok? We’re divorced. I got custody. ” etc etc. Perhaps the failure of Roger’s marriage was not entirely because of who he is, but of how he is seen by others. The differences in Joan’s and Bethany’s views of Roger are as telling as their relationships.

  2. Amelia W. says:

    “I get older. I grow old. Somebody starts to tell me about their dreams, and I get so bored I have to escape. I flee to craft superstore down the street from the hardware superstore, down the parkway from the office superstore. I wander its aisles looking for a seed of an idea to help me escape from myself–I walk past artificial lillies and unpainted birdhouses……And then in the scrapbooking aisle I see 79 cent sticker packs with little rainbows and unicorns that say DREAMS CAN COME TRUE! and it makes me want to cry the way we feed nonsense crap like this to kids…..Dreams don’t come true. Dreams die. Dreams get compromised. Dreams end up dealing meth in a booth at the back of the Oliver Garden. Dreams choke to death on bay leaves. Dream get spleen cancer.” (118)

    This excepert of one of Roger’s diary entries, I believe, is a great snapshot of what he is really like. Even if you had no read any more of the book, reading this one small passage would paint you a pretty detailed picture about this charatcer name Roger. One can infer that clearly he is jaded–he has dealt with so many mishaps in his life, and has little hope that anything will go right. I think this, although potentially overly-dramatic, almost obnixous “dreams-don’t-come-true” speech, really hits the nail on the head as far capturing Roger’s day to day outlook on life. Grim, grim, and grim. Furthermore though, this passage also encompasses other elements of the novel beyond somewhat summarizing Roger as a character. For instance, it touches on the idea of being “bored” with hearing about peoples dreams. Boredom is a major element in the novel as both Bethany and Roger trudge through the monotony of their dead-end Staple jobs. Even characters in Glove Pond experience this boredom, for instance when Brittainy undergoes a makeover from Gloria because she is “needed a change” (131)
    In addition, Roger also speaks about needing an “escape from myself.” I think it’s fair to say that each character in the book is search of some sort of escape, wether it be from themselves, other people, or merely Staples.

  3. Wesley says:

    Oops, paragraph 2 I say that Brittany has read Glove Pond. That sentence should read: “We, the readers of The Gum Thief, as well as Bethany & DeeDee, the readers of Glove Pond…”

  4. Wesley says:

    “[Kyle] looked at the oak drawer. What, he wondered, could have happened to two people to damage them so badly? What sort of event could warp them, or any of us, to the point where they became mere cartoons of the real and whole people they once were?
    He opened the drawer, but its contents made no sense to him. He felt as though he was looking at Mount Rushmore or Niagara Falls. He felt like a tourist in the world, dropped here like Superman, not belonging, never to belong. Evidence of his fall from grave lay before him now inside a dusty oak drawer–nothing cosmic and nothing poetic that might describe the sadness of life and the unending pain of the human condition, merely a bright orange twenty-five-foot-long extension cord. What the hell is that doing there?” (p. 266)

    This passage is from one of the Glove Pond portions of the book, and likewise tells more about the characters in that book-within-a-book, but it also has strong resonances with the characters from The Gum Thief proper due to the intertextual nature of the book.
    The discovery is most revealing, of course, for Steve & Gloria. We, the readers of The Gum Thief, as well as Brittany & DeeDee, the readers of Glove Pond, finally understand the cause of Steve & Gloria’s apparent madness & alcoholism. In an incredibly intertextual way, we discover that their son Kendall committed suicide in the same way that DeeDee’s son killed himself: by hanging himself with an extension cord. The fact that Kyle discovers this token of sadness in Steve’s dust-covered study is also telling. Not only does it reveal that Steve & Gloria have obviously repressed this memory of their son (keeping the cord in an unused part of the house, like storing a memory in an unused part of the brain), but also explains why Steve stopped writing (the unbearable interruption of life caused by a son’s decision to kill himself) as well as perhaps the reason why Steve’s books never sold well (books he wrote before his son’s death didn’t have any genuine emotion, & when Steve finally encounters something that moves him, it moves him too much, & he can no longer write at all). In a similar way this gives a reason for Gloria’s obsession with make-up: if she can cover the blemishes in her skin, maybe she can also cover the blemishes in her life.
    This passage also gives us insight into DeeDee’s life. DeeDee is, especially from Bethany’s perspective, depressingly unmotivated to do anything. We are told that this is due to her son’s suicide. Intextually, therefore, DeeDee is the inspiration for Steve & Gloria, giving us a bigger picture of how that sort of overwhelming event can adversely affect your life.
    In a more overarching sense, this event gives us insight into Coupland’s perception that everyone has to deal with loss in their own way. Every developed adult character in the story loses or has lost something (except maybe Brittany): Steve & Gloria lost Kendall, Kyle loses Brittany, Bethany loses Kyle, DeeDee lost her son, Roger lost his. Regardless of how we deal with it, as members of the human race we all have to deal with loss at some point, and it can either cripple us (as with Steve & Gloria), or we can learn to cope (as Roger does at the end). If only it were possible to cope without being so preachy.

  5. Kathryn says:

    “I was taking down the Halloween displays by the window. Shawn whispered to me, ‘That’s Mr. Rant. He’s nuts. He hasn’t been in for ages. He can actually be fun if you get him going.’ So I figured, what the hell, and I asked the guy, ‘Is there anything else that annoys you, sir –I mean, while we’re on the subject and all?’ And he totally got into it” (98).

    I thought this section of Gum Thief was interesting because it reinforces the purpose of Roger and Bethany’s stories and their mundane lives by connecting with a stranger outside of their office superstore world. When I was reading through their takes on the world I couldn’t help but think that they were thoughts we all have at various moments in our lives, we just never speak about them, hesitating to be seen as a cynic or overly pessimistic. By having another character come in to reaffirm their critique on society and the world I though made their stories more powerful. The characters know that they aren’t alone in their world view but this is the first direct interaction we see that makes their view more realistic. This passage also shows how the characters are accepting of others who can admit to having the same cynical view as they do and even find entertainment in the commonality of their thoughts. This is one of the reasons that Bethany and Roger seem to connect so well within the novel. Although they are very different as separate entities they see what’s around them similarly and can justify their communication through this common ground.

  6. Nigel says:

    “Its weird to describe how it feels, walking around the store knowing you’re walking around these same aisles imagining your way into me-like being possessed-the sensation that there’s a ghost slipping in and out my body whenever it wants. I don’t mind it. It’s what people probably felt like all the time before TV and the Internet. People probably tried to get inside each other’s heads in the old days (41).”
    This passage here demonstrates how Bethany is an lonely character who intrigued by an even more lonely character, Roger. Roger is getting into Bethany’s head by writing as Bethany, at least it may actually be Roger all along. The theme of loneliness is intensified by the fact that Roger is writing as Bethany and contacting her only through the journal. If one does not bother to talk to someone in real life than how are they going to build personal, social, and business connections? Roger’s dilemma in his current state is not only caused by drinking but by the fact that he has embraced a reclusive lifestyle by not engaging with the real world. Instead he is in a way living through Bethany, or the creation of Bethany. Bethany’s mother, Glove Pond and Bethany all serve as outlets for Roger to envision a life he is not living. Bethany is the person he decides to live through in real life and feel like he has a connection at his job. This passage is important because it reveals to us how Bethany somewhat enjoys the communication she and Roger have through the journal. She does not feel completely comfortable connecting with others either and Roger’s impersonation of Bethany through written work allows to feel connected with out actually connecting with him. The total ignoring of each other that Roger and Bethany choose to do over the course of the book is only broken through the journal. Roger and Bethany are both trapped in the lonely world of Staples, and this journal is the only way the two of them feel good about communicating with others on a personal level. And even then the communication is not direct between them in the book, as Bethany responds to Roger’s impersonations and chapters on Glove Pond. The two do not have a normal dialogue with each other. The entire book is compiled of disjointed communication between characters sometimes without answers on one side of the conversation. Both characters are trying to connect with each other, but remain alone, only with their own thoughts or impersonations of each other.

  7. Sarah says:

    “Not the best day.
    This morning I had once of those from-hell wake-ups where all you can think of is fear and loss and the people you’ve hurt and all the damage you’ve done. You put your hand out from under the sheets and the air is cold. It’s like not wanting to be born. And then, finally, your head can’t stand lying there thinking any more, so you jump up and run to the bathroom and put your head under the shower’s jet, hoping it will fuzz out the feelings, but instead there’s only a tiny amount of diversion (Roger 118).”

    In this passage Coupland succeeds in summing up Rogers entire character is a few lines. Rogers personality, and whole life for that matter is not stable. He once had a family, and a socially respected job. Now he takes pride in only one thing and that is his car, which is also nothing special, its just consistent and reliable. Like with the shower jet, Roger is constantly trying to numb his feelings and distract himself from his own life. He does this with alcohol, which has only caused more problems personally and emotionally. It also caused him to lose many respectable jobs, to the point where is now works at Staples, where alcoholism is the least of the employees problems. I have no doubt that for Roger, finding the will to get out of bed in the morning took immense effort. Roger can’t stand himself, he can’t deal with the guilt he feels about his son and about all his failure. Roger does seem to get some joy out of writing both to Bethany and “Glove Pond.” I believe Roger wrote everything in the book, so he starts by writing Bethany as he thinks she appears to be: a lost soul. Throughout the book she becomes more of a likable person who ENJOYS hearing about Rogers life and enjoys writing back and forth with him. It gets to the point where she misses him terribly when he is not at work. Roger clearly needed that kind of connection in his life. When Roger finally begins to write “Glove Pond” it is clear that this is a huge deal to him. In Joans letter, she belittles him for everything else but that. Beyond that Bethany loves “Glove Pond,” and all it’s parallels to real life and wants to share it. Ultimately, “Glove Pond” is mediocre just like the rest of Rogers life. It was not a successful diversion from the “cold,” pain and emptiness that is his life.

  8. Paul D. says:

    Roger
    “Not the best day. This Morning I had one of those from-hell wake-ups where all you can think of is fear and loss and the people you’ve hurt and all the damage you’ve done. You put your hand out from under the sheets and the air is cold. It’s like not wanting to be born. And then, finally, your head can’t stand lying there thinking any more, so you jump up and run to the bathroom and put your head under the shower’s jet, hoping it will fuzz out the feelings, but instead there’s only a tiny amount of diversion.” pg 118

    This passage connects with the theme of the novel that people try to forget their sorrow but in the end, they have to find a way to deal with it. In Roger’s case he has been through a tumultuous last 10 years of his life and at this point in his life he is wallowing away in sorrow, unhappy with who he is. Every human will experience grief or sorrow and every person will have to figure out a way to deal with it. However, people will experience different levels of it and have their own ways of dealing with their depression. One common way of coping with grief is through alcoholism and drug addiction. Throughout the novel Coupland uses Dee Dee, Roger, and the couple from Glove Pond as the alcoholics who have hit rock bottom. Roger goes to his crappy job everyday with a buzz and it still makes him feel bad. The alcohol takes a little bit of the edge off, but it only hides his feelings so he can deal with them another day. This ties in to the theme of this book that reality is frequently too harsh to deal with on your own so you need a medium, or coping mechanism for peace of mind. The letters that Bethany, her Mom, and Roger write are all mediums through which they confess their emotions to one another. The letters that Coupland uses are a good way of portraying his ideas because its interesting and not something that people would usually do in the real world. Unlike alcoholism. In addition, Staples is something that represents nothing of sentimental value, its just a useful place for customers and a hell hole for the employees. All the pessimistic sides of this book are good because in order to make something of yourself you need to know both happiness and sadness. To go through life without imperfection is a fallacy and The Gum Thief does well to point this out.

  9. Nicolaus F says:

    Q: Brother, are you headed home?
    A: Brother, aren’t we always headed home?

    “Life always kills you in the end, but first it prevents you from getting what you want. I’m so tired of never getting what I want. Or of getting it with a monkey paw curse attached” (Coupland 56-57).

    Throughout the first half of The Gum Thief, Coupland provides his readers with countless statements like the one referenced above, which present the characters as pessimistic and struggling existentially, as well as apparently never having heard The Stones. Although you can’t always get what you want, most people seem to realize that with the right attitude, it is easier to be grateful for the things that they do have, and they just might find that they get what they need. By the very end of the novel after Bethany hospitalizes herself, Roger finally attains a significant degree of enlightenment, writing to Bethany that “the world is a beautiful place. Life is short, and yet it is long. Being here is such a gift. And there’s always going to be someone knocking over the Sharpie pen cardboard display in Aisle 3-South. So go over there right now and clean it up!” (Coupland 258). This encouragement from Roger embodies just about everything I had been scribbling in the margins to his character as I read the work in frustration, which is why I think it is significant that Roger finally vocalizes this understanding to Bethany. When I first read this passage, I wondered how Roger could have said such unelightened things like “for a ten-minute window they can think of me as a real person” if he always had the insight that he offered to Bethany claiming “the knowledge of who I am is all I have. […] It’s the one thing I can speak of without fear. It’s the one thing I can give someone else. I earned this knowledge, dammit!” (Coupland 258). Roger claiming an elevated level of self-awareness (which we know is newly discovered because of Roger’s surprise at the fortune teller’s accurate assessment of his tendencies on page 13) is what confirmed for me the possibility of the novel functioning as a way in which Roger and Bethany may come to know themselves through each other’s help and support.

    It is well known that Roger and Bethany both feel alienated and possibly incompetent compared to the rest of society, and in Bethany’s last entry before she attempts suicide (because according to her she is sick of being herself) she says “yes, well at least Roger’s in this with me” (Coupland 248). The whole structure of the novel is set up so as to compliment the ease of exchange and the closeness between Roger and Bethany, for both of them have complete access to the other’s writing. Therefore, it seems that the work may function like the Mason’s question and answer code referenced in the beginning, allowing for Bethany and Roger to more easily identify themselves (not literally but spiritually or internally coming to know themselves) among strangers in a strange and alienating world.

  10. Evan M says:

    “An hour melted away as Steve lectured his guests about his five novels. He smiled at Brittany……. Steve then realized it might be a good idea if one of his guests had a chance to speak… “Kyle looked at his host, and Steve thought he looked almost stunned. “Really? You’re asking someone a question? I’m shocked.” Nonsense you’re a guest in my home, and you’re also a fellow writer. Writers as a group are always giving unjealous and supportive of all other writers.” (Page 90)

    I think this passage shows how Steve is really excited to “make up” stories about himself to build his confidence, but Roger as the narrator has created Kyle who sees right through him. Kyle seems surprised because, I feel Roger wants to make Kyle seem like an enemy of sorts and Steve to be the good guy. This might be a symbol of some irony with Rogers life. He has played the good guy his whole life it seems and it really hasn’t gotten him where he would ideally like to be, so he has created this character that shows who he is/was as a person outside Glove Pond. It almost seems like Steve is trying to fight through his lies and continue to lie thinking he can work his way out of it.

    Overall this book kept pulling me in then losing me, I feel the glove pond chapters were the hardest for me to follow with all of the back and forth action and trying to determine what was a symbol of his life, if it was really at all.

  11. Matt Graham says:

    “Not the best day.
    This morning I had one of those from-hell wake-ups where all you can think of is fear and lost and the people you’ve hurt and all the damage you’ve done. You put your hand out from the sheets and the air is cold. And it’s like not wanting to be born. And then, finally, your head can’t stand lying there thinking anymore, so you jump up and run to the bathroom and put your head under the shower’s jet, hoping it will fuzz over the feelings, but instead there’s only a tiny amount of diversion,”(118).

    This passage touches on a few of the themes we discussed in class, namely failure, the fulfillment of dreams and relationships, or the failure of relationships. Throughout the book we are given a portrayal of a character whose life has not or could not have turned out the way he wanted it too mostly due to great disappointments and shortcomings in his life. This passage is a good example of the thought process resulting from the circumstances brought on both by the death of his child and his infidelity to his wife and the resulting divorce and loss of custody of his daughter whom he is allowed to visit with only once a month. Throughout the book he seems to carry himself with a certain amount of regret but also seems to be trying to improve his peace of mind with his journal writing as well as with his story Glove Pond. I believe that the writing of Glove Pond representing something of a sanctuary to Roger from what has become a disappointment of a life is why he reacts so drastically to his co-workers reading his story and making fun of it.

    Further down page 118 two lines in particular stick out to me relating to the themes I mentioned earlier; “I get older. I grow old. Somebody starts to tell me about their dreams, and I get so bored I have to escape.” To me this is very much the response of an individual who has had dreams that passed them by and is no longer interested in the concept. The other line is, “And then, in the scrapbook aisle, I see 79¢ sticker pads with little rainbows and unicorns that say DREAMS CAN COME TRUE! and it make me want to cry the way we feed nonsense crap like this to kids.” This kind of thought process has occurred to me in my own experiences and in some ways I believe it to be valid but I believe it is much harder for someone who has experienced great disappointments in relation to their hopes and dreams to remain optimistic and hopeful. Once a person has passed their prime without achieving or experiencing the things they desired it would be naturally difficult for them to be a proponent of the “you can be anything you want to be” mentality that we are often encouraged to believe as kids. This is one of the things to be best exemplified by Roger in The Gum Thief.

  12. Hannah B. says:

    “After Becky came this five-year death fiesta. Both my grandfathers in the same year (car crash; kidney failure); my twenty-year-old stepsister (internal injuries sustained in an assult by her now behind-bars-for-thirty-years-ex); my grandmother (emphysema); my favorite music teacher, Mr. Van Buren (car crash on the 99, driving up to Whistler); Kurt Cobain; both my cats (Ginger and Snowbelle); two of my smokehole friends, Chris and Mark” (p.53)
    This passage from “The Gum Thief” represents one of the large themes of the book – death; but it also allows you to understand Bethany’s character. Bethany is introduced in the very first sentence on page 6, and the very first descriptor of her you receive is that she is the ‘dead girl.’ Not long after this we find out that this passage describing Bethany as the ‘dead girl’ was not written by Bethany but by Roger, pretending to be Bethany. So this descriptor is not how Bethany sees herself but how others, or rather how Roger sees her. Bethany is described as wearing white makeup and black lipstick.
    This passage is essential to understanding Bethany’s obsession with death. Death has been a constant in her life until this point in time. You could almost say that she has become comfortable with the constant sense of loss. Bethany simply has had a lot more death in her life than a normal person does at her age, so it is not strange that she should be more fixated on it than other people. This scene reveals Bethany’s past experience with death, the horrors she has experienced and yet she has come out the other side, if her black lipstick and white face are what gets her through the day then so be it. This connects to the novel as a whole because death is a constant topic, in Roger’s life (the death of his son), in Bethany’s and DeDe’s life and is even a topic in Glove Pond.

  13. Azure says:

    “This guy endures all of these tribulations, except they don’t change him. They don’t make him a better person. They make him a worse person. He beings to lead a falling-down life. His body won’t fit his old clothes, and he doesn’t know how to find new ones. He keeps waiting for the moral of his life to appear, but it never does. The clock is ticking, and all he can see is decades more of the same thing until his body gives out, and he wonders what the point is of being alive if it’s merely more of the same — and the thing is, he’d like to change things, but he doesn’t know what, or how. He sees a scam in everything the world offers. He doesn’t believe in the Apocalypse, and he thinks that both faith and reason are equally stupid, and that all leaders are frauds” (69-70).

    This is a segment from Glove Pond, where Kyle is giving a brief summary of his new book called Two Lost Decades. Although this passage doesn’t directly reference Roger, in reality it sums up his entire life’s story in a few short paragraphs. This passage tells a lot about Roger mostly due to the fact that he himself wrote Glove Pond, and it seems as if he is openly talking about his failures in life through Kyle’s character.
    Roger is clearly a very damaged individual. He’s gone through a lot in life, and has fallen off the horse so many times he can’t seem to pull himself back on. This quote is right on the money in that aspect; Roger feels as if his life is meaningless, as if he is simply a shell of a person walking around without the real meat that makes a human so unique and personal. It shows that Roger’s outlook on life is beyond melancholy, its downright depressing. He knows that he hasn’t changed for the better although he’s suffered tremendous loss, and he can’t seem to find the motivation to change himself for the better. Roger is the kind of guy who looks at the glass and sees it as half empty instead of half full, and the sad part is that he is fully aware of that fact. It seems as if he tries to comes to terms with his downer demeanor through Kyle’s character, but we know that it doesn’t work. He really does want to change his disheveled life, but he doesn’t have anyone to give him the motivation to, that is until Bethany.

  14. Camille says:

    “It’d be nice if we had course in school called Real Life. Forget don’t-drink-and-drive videos and plastic models of the uterus. Imagine a class where they sit you down and spell everything out, deploying all of that information delivered to us by our ever-growing army of wise, surviving ninetysomethings…
    … Falling out of love happens as quickly as falling in.
    … Good-looking people with strong, fluoridated teeth get things handed to them on platters.
    …Animals spend time with you only if you feed them.
    …People armed with shopping carts who know what they want and where they’re going will always cream clueless people standing in the middle of aisles holding vague shopping lists.
    …Time speeds up in a terrifying manner
    My Theory of the Day is that the moment your brain locks into its permanent age, whoosh, it flips a time switch and your life zooms forward like a Japanese bullet train” (Pp 57).
    I found this passage crucial in defining Roger’s mentality toward life and his personal problems. In him suggesting that there should be a class on “real life”, I got the impression that Roger feels that he was unjustly ill-equipped for the harsh realities of life, and that he still feels unprepared even though he is middle-aged. All of the statements that he thought should be taught are lessons that he has experienced the hard way, like being divorced from his wife who has fallen out of love with him.
    I was particularly drawn to one of the latter sections about people with shopping carts. While I see the direct correlation to the customers that he observes in Staples, I also think that he is talking metaphorically about his own uncertainties in life. We discussed in class how Roger views himself as a failure in life, and in this metaphor I think that he sees himself as the “clueless shopper” who will eventually get run over and pushed out of the way by other more driven “shoppers”. His uncertainties and stagnant behaviors can be most clearly seen in the job that he is working: a dead end position at an office superstore.
    The cynical attitude that is shown in this passage is depressing but also humorous, and I feel like some of his life lessons are valid. It is a little uplifting to see that by the end of the novel Roger has at least left Staples and finished Glove Pond, but still only slightly. While I enjoyed this novel, I couldn’t help but feel disheartened about the outcome of all of the characters; it definitely was not a Hollywood-produced happy ending.

  15. Timmy T says:

    Steve states in Glove Pond to Gloria…..
    “What if it turned out that you and I weren’t even human-what if it turned out that you and I came from some other plant, far away?………………………….. even the smallest of our daily acts would be filled with grace and wonder and hope-wouldn’t that be something!” (Pg. 271).

    I believe that one of the major themes The Gum Thief and this excerpt presents is the idea of self-worth, and how easy it is to become delusional toward the beauty of existence through the mundane experiences of political, social, and cultural structures that shape society. The main character’s, Roger, an older alcoholic in his forties, and Bethany, an insecure gothic girl in her twenties, are in current similar situations (working at Staples), and have similar perspectives on life in general. They inevitably become a product of their environment, leaving them feeling like another brick in the wall. Consequently, they are marginalized by the expected norms of society imposed on them. Staples treats their employees all the same, each having mundane and banal tasks to perform each day. The job is repetitive, safe, and unadventurous. Glove Pond allows them to express themselves in ways they never have, giving them a chance to feel worthy and unique. They strive for change and are almost looking for a sense of alienation from the rest of society, to feel different and unique, a mysterious element that no one else can mimic or claim as their own. They are distressed over where their life will take them, thus creating Glove Pond (so they have some form of relation with people in similar situations). They never seem to take the time to realize the potential their own lives have, due to their current and dull situations in life, thanks to generic staples.

  16. Fiona says:

    “He thought of how, sometimes, a character he thought was based on one person was actually based on another person altogether, an how far along in a book he could go without understanding that….

    He looked at the Oak Dresser. What, he wondered, could have happened to two people to damage them so badly? What sort of event could warp them, or any of us, to the point where they became mere cartoons of the real and whole people they once were?”
    - Glove Pond: Kyle (266)

    This scene captures many important features of The Gum Thief. First, it is set within the context of Glove Pond drawing attention to the “mise- en- abime” style of the novel, or narratives within narratives. This is a critical feature of the novel, as it causes the readers to wonder what, in the novel, is actual reality. In this case, we know that Glove Pond is Roger’s story, but be also know that the characters in Glove Pond stand to represent the characters in Roger’s life. Roger bases the characters of Steve and Gloria off of himself and Bethany. They are lost individuals who rely on alcohol to mask their misery and grief, just like Roger.

    Secondly, this quote comes from Kyle. Kyle is merely an outsider looking in on lives of Steve and Gloria. Kyle in Glove Pond is a representation of Kyle, the Staples co-worker and brief boyfriend of Bethany. I find it interesting how he can barely fathom why Bethany and possibly Roger too, seem so dark and broken. He embodies all of the people who live their life free of loss and pain, of which Bethany and Roger cant seem to escape. Kyle wonders, “What could have happened to two people to damage them so badly?” From reading the novel, and understanding the characters of Roger and Bethany, we learn the answer to this question, yet Kyle remains, for the most part, in the dark. The reasons direct us to themes such as failure, death, loss, identity, and relationships. We see these themes circulate and affect many different characters, especially Roger, Bethany, and Dee Dee. This further leads us to understand the “secret society” between the three characters.

    He directly addressed the idea of characters standing for other characters, or multiple personalities, a key aspect of the novel. He even admits that he has trouble understanding or realizing this. Lastly, I find it interesting how, in this scene, Kyle suggests that their damage has caused them to become merely cartoons of themselves. The reference to characters becoming “cartoons of the real people they once were,” again elicits uncertainty about what or who, in The Gum Thief is real.

  17. Lauren says:

    “I like booze. Booze makes me feel the way being in a womb must feel. If fetuses aren’t getting alcohol, what are they getting in there that makes the womb everybody’s dream vacation spot? I bet they’re floating around getting wasted on fet-ohol” (95).
    I found that this comical passage not only sums up Roger’s main downfall, but also manifests a major theme of failure. In the grand scheme of things, Roger failed at life. His marriage and relationship with his daughter are unsuccessful, he is an alcoholic, and is eventually fired from his simple job at Staples. For me, this was the point in the novel where I realized that alcoholism is the reasoning behind the prominent theme of failure. Roger is almost always involving alcohol into his writings, which is only adding to his downfall. This may be attributed to the fact that Roger’s marriage was not successful and also because he is not close with his daughter. We also see a correlation in Roger’s comedy, Glove Pond, because Steve’s five novels do not sell and is also a heavy drinker. Steve is basically a replica of Roger and his own dreams, except that Steve still cannot escape the alcoholism. In Glove Pond, Steve gives Kyle an analysis of ‘this guy’ in this first novel, which perfectly describes Roger in everyway. It is clear that Roger feels no self-accomplishment and even fails at trying to make his life positive. At the end of the novel we find that Roger does find success in his writing, which raises the question is failure absolute? I think that the last chapter is the turning point of the novel and may be when Roger finds that he can overcome his failure by finding himself.

  18. Jake A says:

    “Steve walked towards the light of the main commercial strip—speed walked, really—past a cluster of teen thugs igniting Roman candles, then around a street corner, where he found a car on fire, a Hyundai, it’s burning core so bright that the colored houses surrounding it shown white” (pg. 269).
    One of the major themes in this book is failure. Roger is a full grown adult, yet he holds such an unimportant job at Staples. He also works with younger less qualified people. Roger’s marriage failed, and he is not on good terms with his ex-wife or daughter. Roger is eventually fired from Staples, overall his life is a failure. However there is one passionate accomplishment Roger does pursue, is his novel Glove Pond. Even Steve, Roger’s mirror character in Glove Pond is a failure. He can’t find direction in his life, and he can’t finish his book. However in the last chapter of Glove Pond Steve passes a burning Hyundai, which is surely Roger’s car. Moreover it is the one thing in Roger’s life that he identified with. This burning car can be viewed as a symbolic leaving of Roger’s old life and moving on. He is ready for change and he feels some accomplishment and success because his novel is finished. The letter at the end of the book drops the reader into the abyss once more, and adds to Roger’s small success. The teacher said that his characters were comparable to real people. The teacher also makes a number of critiques on the paper. Although Coupland uses these comments sarcastically to employ the idea that he can write however he wants. Moreover, not all people or writing must be able to fit in a box like Staples. The letter is a mockery of the literary establishment as a whole. Coupland believes we are free to break the mold. By the end Roger has finished what he set out to do, and he got a C- which isn’t failure after all.

  19. Megan N. says:

    “A job has some dimension of hope to it. Setting up fresh little sheets of white paper for people to use to test magic markers is not a hope scenario. All people ever draw is squiggles. It’d be fun if they wrote the occasional fuck or drew anarchy symbols. I still can’t believe people ever pay for pens. Talk about the world’s most shopliftable item. Staples must die” (17).
    This scene is crucial to the development of the theme of boredom, but also to the understanding of Bethany as a character. Boredom is portrayed all throughout the book, with all of the characters and also within Glove Pond. Bethany is one of those bored characters. I believe this scene is important because it gives the reader a sense of how exciting working at Staples is. Bethany and Roger have to witness the routine of Staples every day. It’s always the same. Even the smallest things, like writing profanity on paper would create excitement at the job. This quote connects to the novel as a whole because all throughout the book we see bored characters. Roger is bored with his life and has no enthusiasm for it. In Glove Pond we get this same mundane sense. The house hasn’t changed. There are old magazines and dust everywhere. Deedee talks about how her life has no meaning since she has no one to love, there is no excitement. All of the characters connect to the theme of boredom in one way or another.

  20. Alex M. says:

    “Do you ever get that? All you crave is silence, but instead you sit there and, against your wishes, nag yourself at full volume? Money! Loneliness! Failure! Sex! Body! Enemies! Regret! …
    We’re a planet of selfish me-robots. I hate it. I try to turn it off. The only thing that works is if I try to imagine what it’s like to be in someone else’s head, try to imagine what their in nagging is. It cools my brain” (Pg 248).

    This passage seems to be crucial to both the understanding of Bethany’s character and the development of the novel as a whole. In the first part, Bethany explains that she is not able to turn off her inner voice. Considering that almost half of the novel is made up of her thoughts written on paper, this is not surprising. However, what I like about the rest of the passage is that it pertains to our society as a whole. Everyday, people all over the world are mulling over at least one of the themes Bethany mentions. This inner-voice that she cannot seem to quiet is universal, which reminds us that maybe she is not quite as strange and different as she makes herself out to be.

    The second half of this passage pertains to the development of the book because it seems to further my original notion; the characters, like Bethany and Dee, are not real. There seem to be hints throughout the novel suggesting that Roger has made this entire story up for his creative writing class. In the passage, Bethany explains that the only way she is able to quiet her thoughts is by putting herself in someone else’s mind and considering what issues they are struggling with. This line seems to describes exactly what Roger has done. He is able to “cool his brain” by creating these characters and expressing their inner-voice, so he does not have to focus on his own. This may seem like a stretch, but it seems more viable than the journal exchange theory. Overall, I enjoyed this passage and thought it was clever considering that in a way we, as readers, are imagining other people’s naggings instead of our own through the reading of this book.

    We discussed a little in class how Coupland uses a writing technique that does not allow us to forget that we are reading a text. This passage does just that in a subtle way. It reminds us that we are reading the thoughts of fictional characters and perhaps is trying to suggest that we are all a little like Bethany, in that sometimes it’s nice to quiet our own inner-voice and listen to others’.

  21. Shane W. says:

    “Roger, as your instructor, I have to tell you that the truly good author creates a novel so true that it loses the voice of its individual author. We all strive to write ‘the universal book,’ one so good that it seems unauthored. Your Glove Pond (Roger, what sort of name is that?) has a voice that is too idiosyncratic. You need to lose your ego and create a work that speaks in the voice of the ‘Platonic everyman,’ not only the voice that you, Roger Thorpe, create.” (Page 273).

    This closing section, written by the “award winning” instructor Ed Matheson, is the opening of the criticism for the novel written by Roger. The character Matheson states that Glove Pond is too mundane and repetitive, and does not represent the lives of normal beings. The criticism is obviously ironic, because Glove Pond is really a story of normal people doing normal (boring) everyday activities. The fact that Matheson praises the other classmates, who wrote stories set on other planets and in places like vampire caves, contradicts his analysis of Roger, which asks for him to make his novel about the “Platonic everyman” (Ya, like it’s an everyday thing to be in those imaginary settings). Roger captures the essence of the mundane reality of the mediocre jobs that the majority of society works (McJobs). Overall, I see this quote and section as a place to mock those who have criticized Coupland’s work. The fact that Roger is told to not have his own voice show itself in Glove Pond can be reflected upon the many people who criticize Coupland for being a prominent character in most of his own books. Matheson says that your novel cannot be good if the author’s voice is present, yet, Coupland has written some of the greatest and most universal novels of this generation with his narrative voice present, but unannounced. This final chapter is very telling of Coupland’s overall style, and mocks both the critics of the fictional Roger and the critics of Coupland. Also, this section just adds to humorous atmosphere of The Gum Thief, for example, the ridiculous idea that Matheson could connect the United Nations to, or be brought to tears by an exercise surrounding buttered bread slices.

  22. Molly says:

    On pages 59-62 Roger (or rather Coupland) sketches a truly hilarious scene that is the final act in a long series of pre-dinner-party-catastrophes at the opening of Glove Pond. In this one, we find Steve and Gloria bickering over who should answer the door and then launching into a heated discussion of the reasons behind the failure of Steve’s five novels, all while their guests stand outside in the cold ringing the doorbell again and again.
    This scene is characteristic of a larger theme in Glove Pond and The Gum Thief which is essentially Coupland’s belief in the innate pompousness of people and institutions that take themselves very seriously—namely published writers, professors of English, the field of academia in general, large corporations, etc. There is certainly an air of self-deprecation in this message, as Coupland is himself a member of the published writers circle; though he manages to maintain a cavalier enough attitude about it so as to almost transcend that label.
    There is no doubt at all that Steve and Gloria are members of this pompous group, and it’s evident in other scenes that Kyle Falconcrest is an even more severe case—practically the group’s crowned leader. Every little quip between Steve and Gloria has the subtext of self-righteous intellectuals “at it again”—using their massive brains to make mountains out of molehills. For example, on pg 59 Steve cheekily informs Gloria about why she most certainly heard the doorbell first: “‘The doorbell’s ring mechanism is directly beneath your makeup collection, and as sound travels more quickly through solids, chances are that you heard the doorbell ring first.’” They are so wrapped up in being witty and in outsmarting the other that Steve and Gloria are entirely blind to the basics of hosting. In fact, their guests remain outside for the entire scene as Gloria enumerates the reasons why Steve’s novels were flops and Steve defends himself.
    Coupland seems to be remarking on the conceited, self-infatuated ways of academics in this scene where neither Steve nor Gloria want to lower themselves to the (not-so-very-lowly) task of opening the door. The ridiculous pride of the intellectual is a prominent theme throughout the book and is especially notable in the snide “grade” that Roger receives at The Gum Thief’s end. Coupland himself has clearly assumed the role of the self-effacing intellectual, and he wears it well.

  23. Peter C says:

    “Bethany, nobody knows who they are when they’re young—nobody! You’re not a full person yet! You’re liquid! You’re lava! You’re a larva! You’re molten plastic! And don’t take that the wrong way. I mean, it’s not like it gets much better as you get older, but when you get older—and you will—you’ll at least figure out who you are a little bit. Not much, but some. And when it happens, you might not be too thrilled with who it is you are, but at least you’ll know. But right now? At your age? Again, don’t take any of this personally, but no!” Pg. 256

    Aside from the idea of this story being a book within a book within a book…etc, I think this passage written to Bethany after her attempted suicide shows Roger’s true self. Although we go about reading the entire novel seeing nothing but Roger’s depression, he shows how he still cares about life and the people he cares about in his life. It shows his unselfishness and what he was probably like before his divorce and his son’s death. Coupland gives the reader a sense that Roger will be the one in Bethany’s position at the end of the book which give it a little bit of a twist. Throughout the book we see the declining downfall of Roger’s life and we are never exactly shown the upside even though there isn’t much.
    We never seem to live down the depressions of life through Roger’s perspective but he still manages to get his point across to Bethany. He can at least look back on the good days and remember all the good times he had at Bethany’s age and even many years after that. He doesn’t directly say it but that’s what he means when he say, “At your age? Again, don’t take any of this personally, but no!”. He mentions in a later paragraph how he’s a “pretty generic person like everyone else”. What Bethany did gave Roger a second chance at life. He realizes that life is a struggle for most people but it’s also a gift. It makes him think of the things he would lose if he died. He explains throughout the book how people don’t forget the past and how they just learn to deal with it. In reality he doesn’t want to lose the memory of his lost son. Although it makes him sad and unhappy it’s the good times that make him feel that way.
    The connection of this passage to the novel is extremely important. We see Roger constantly telling himself the opposite of what he’s now telling Bethany. Coupland’s way of writing shows Roger’s real self because he writes the letter with emotion. The reader can sense an actual feeling from Roger that we don’t get to see until this point in the novel. I was always sensing this monotone voice but this is the point where he realizes a lot of people are like him and not to be so down about it. He finished Glove Pond which also helps us see his upside.

  24. Laurel G says:

    “Well, that’s life. During my childhood as a humble slice inside the loaf (four slices in from the front), I once had dreams. Maybe one day, as toast, I would bear an image of Jesus or, if not Jesus, then NASCAR racing legend Dale Earnhart or, failing that, Catherine Zeta Jones. Instead, all I display is a golden brown toastiness distributed across my heated surface with about the same degree of randomness as craters on the moon, with a slightly darker browning in my midriff where I bowed slightly towards the toaster’s equatorial grill…Life generally blows. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there are far worse ways to go than as toast – croutons and stuffing spring to mind – as well as the worst fate of all: blue mould, followed by a few hasty twists of the bread bag’s neck, then you’re plunged in the trash and live an anaerobic limbo until the year AD 327,406, when a glacier scours you out of what was once the local landfill. My fate is to be toast. I suppose that’s a small blessing.” (138)

    Apart from being rather entertaining, I consider this excerpt from the novel as quite poignant. The first time I read it, I thought of it only in the context of what it was: a homework assignment about personification. Upon reading it a second time, I realized that this small story was also a microcosm of the trials and tribulations of each character in the book. Before it was toast, the bread had dreams and aspirations, much like Roger and Bethany, DeeDee and even the characters in Glove Pond. As time progressed, the bread left its shelter of “four slices from the front” and was introduced to the gritty, disappointing, and difficult realities of a larger world. Just as Roger and Bethany were sales associates at Staples and Steve’s books were somewhat failures, the bread’s fate was set; it would be toast. Through its realization of the elimination of its original dreams, the bread ultimately sees the beauty of its fate. I believe that this triumph is what drives the toast story to be such a successful microcosm. Despite the misery of working at Staples and the hollow feeling of failure that plagues Roger and Bethany (and the other characters), it is this misery that leads them to realize their potential as people, and to realize that they have the power to change their situation for the better.

  25. Juliana K says:

    Roger
    p 24 “I caught a glimpse of myself in the men’s room mirror, and what I saw did disturb me: a puffy-looking forty-three—yellowing skin under the light of the lone fluorescent tube; dandruff; red patches on my scalp where I scratch my seborrhea. No wonder i’ve become invisible to people under thirty.”

    p 22 “I don’t deserve a soul, yet I still have one. I know because it hurts.”

    These passages where Roger discusses his body and physical appearance show how Roger feels disconnected from his body in a way that affects his emotional relationships. This relates to larger themes in the novel such as appearance vs. reality, identity, and regret. Staples is certainly a soulless place– with its barrenness, consumerism and artificiality. It’s no wonder that Roger feels trapped there and in turn, trapped inside of his body. Roger is isolated because of his body; as he says, people under thirty don’t talk to him. Hence, he cannot have real relationships with his coworkers (even his relationship with Bethany is not face-to-face). Inside, Roger feels one way, but he can’t truly be that person. His identity is torn in two; the one that is presented to the world as a depressed, alcoholic, aging man, and the other that is inside and dreams of becoming a writer. Roger is aware of this rupture, because as he says, “It hurts.” Roger is made to believe that he is not worthy of his soul, but I think that over the course of the book, he learns that he does deserve one. As he writes, he feels pride and gets closure on the difficulties in his life. It is also important that he later does not care as much about what his co-workers think and he begins to strive for the things that he wants.

  26. Aaron says:

    I choose the scene on page 121-122, when Kyle Falconcrest discovers that Steve and Gloria are, in his colorful words “psychic abortions”, and literally have no food in their house, apart from Scotch and a many-years old box of weevil-infested pancake mix: “The stove elements were cold. He looked in the fridge. How is it possible to have nothing in a fridge except a jar of pickle juice? He wondered what the dinner strategy was, and then he realized that there was no dinner strategy. All these people had in the house was Scotch” (Pg. 121). Aside from being vital to the character flow of Steve and Gloria (the plot takes a new series of amusing twists after they order Chinese takeout), I think it also makes for a good comparison with Roger. Like Steve the Gloria, he too seeks refuge from life in alcohol (in his case, vodka in place of Scotch), and is floundering in life (and like Steve, is having trouble making headway in his novel). Furthermore, if Steve functions as a “stand-in” for Roger, the lack of any food in his house can be interpreted as Roger’s apparent lack of interest in life, and the 30+ year’s old magazines and assorted detritus in Steve/Gloria’s house is similar to Roger being unable to move on from the death of his kid and his failed marriage (so, if Steve and Gloria are stuck in the 1970s, Roger is stuck in the time when he had a successful job, marriage, and a kid).

  27. Megan D. says:

    “As a side note, I also think it was inconsiderate of you to mention our class’s exercises in bread buttering. Your classmates tried hard to empathize with the buttered bread slice. After last week’s session, some of us stayed behind and had a discussion about your attitude towards your bread” (pg 274)
    This passage struck me because the bread parts were supposedly written by Bethany, but this letter is addressed to Roger from his professor of creative writing. This undercuts my entire view of the novel being put together as an epistolary novel. This passage made me believe that the characters of Bethany, Dee Dee, and the others who contribute to the novel’s monologues are not real and made up in the same way that Steve and Gloria are made up. This really points out to me as a reader that this is really a novel and not a story to get lost in. After the last section it seems to me that I was reading a draft of “Roger’s” novel and he had attached the letter of his creative writing professor’s opinion to get your opinion on the draft as a whole. It also made me think that the Roger who was writing the novel may not be as old as the Roger in the novel. Instead of being a middle aged divorce, it made me think that this was a Roger more of the age of a college student who had to hand this in as an assignment. This made me question the novel as a whole as to whether or not any of the characters were supposed to be real, or if I was supposed to be reading it as a novel in the same way as I was lead to believe Glove Pond was a novel. This last passage was frustrating to me as a reader because it undercut my perceptions of all the characters, because I could no longer believe they were separate characters, but just the imaginings of “Roger” talking to himself as though they were different voices of his personality.

  28. Matthew P says:

    “Steve took another sip of Scotch…All that

    remained was the realization that his own written words were generic. They could have emerged from any creative writing workshop in North America. Hell, his words could have emerged from a creative writing program taught at the Department of Motor Vehicles”(Coupland 46).
    This passage from the novella written within the novel titled, “Glove Pond,” written by Roger, inadvertently reveals Roger’s actual past, feelings and emotions. The first detail that a reader can pick up on is the fact that Steve is an alcoholic like his creator Roger. Secondly, “Glove Pond” includes a dysfunctional alcohol filled relationship among Gloria and Steve. This aspect reveals the troubled marriage and divorce that Roger is trying to let go of and leave behind. Lastly, like Roger, Steve is a struggling writer searching for his big break. Glove Pond functions in the book as Roger’s way to express his emotions as well as the hardships he faces in his actual life.

  29. Emily says:

    ” A lone pigeon fell to the parking lot, scavenged for edible grit, found none, then returned to the toof and out of dight, possibly to die of boredom. Formless overcast clouds the colour of Korean paper-shredding machines inched in from the west. In the spotless front seat of his Chevy Lumina sedan sat Norm. He was no longer young, his pot-belly enblubbered roughly to the extent of a large Thanksgiving turkey. His scalp grew haird like virulent beige bread mould. His hands clasped a Diet Coke filled with house-brand vodka- breakfast and lunch folded together into one meal” (164-5).

    The passage that to me is most telling about the novel is the reading of Kyle’s novel manuscript, Love in the Age of Office Superstores. This is the beginning of it, but I think the whole three pages sum up the feel of the book. If there is a wholly different Roger writing about Roger and Bethany writing about toast and Glove Pond, that would make this is a novel inside of a novel inside of a novel inside of a novel.

    First, here, we can see the Roger that is writing to Bethany, he makes overly exaggerated, sarcastic and sardonic portrayals of Kyle and Kyle’s character of Norm, which, turn is a mocking view of himself. The Lumina scene is paralled to Roger in his Hyundai, his Norm a flat version of himself, perhaps the way the other Staples employees see him and how he feels, “draggin his carcass” into “work”. Secondly, this novel four times removed is the most ridiculous part of The Gum Thief. For me, the key reason why this is not to be taken too seriously or as a cliche melodrama. You can see Coupland taking shots here, laughing to his computer as he writes this. It sets a tone for the rest of the novel, connecting it all as one giant parody of… a novel perhaps?

    I was watching an interview Coupland did where he was talking about the voice inside your head as you read. He said it’s never really you that you hear, and most of the time it’s a matter-of-fact toned news anchor. This is interesting to consider here, as this passage is so deep into the realm of “what is a novel?” that it muddles all the identities in the book, not only who is writing it but who is thinking about it and reading it. This may be one of the most important ideals in the book-to take this medium and confuddle it so much that we can talk about other themes-boredom, complex relationships, identities-inside of a world that a. already is hard to comprehend and that b. in doing so it makes it easier to forget about who’s telling what to whom until you get to the end. Making it an easy going, enjoyable read that leaves you thinking about how intricate it was only after you’ve finished.

  30. Cassie says:

    “It felt like a month had passed since Kyle and Brittany had arrived for dinner at the charming and gracious home of Steve and Gloria. The younger couple no longer felt like the people they were when they arrived” pg 223

    This is one of those amazingly self aware moments in Glove Pond that Coupland treats us to every once in a while. I love how there is definite confusion over who is writing whom, especially since the story of Glove Pond and the rest of the novel gets so muddled. This book within a book within a book approach only adds to the fray. This particular passage is written right after Bethany comes back from overseas and broken up with Kyle, and it’s been roughly a month since the last Glove Pond section. The changes in the relationships between Bethany and Kyle and Bethany and Roger are reflected in the book Roger is writing, which makes sense as Roger refers to Bethany as his “muse”.

  31. Latimer says:

    “Your characters also seem like real people, which might sound like a compliment, but don’t jump to that conclusion. Characters need to sound as if you made them up, or else people won’t feel as if they’re reading (italic)writing(italic): bold, ballsy, (italic)masterful(italic) writing – and they won’t feel that they’re meeting people who couldn’t otherwise exist were it not for books” (p. 273).

    This passage is important because it can be read so many different ways, and it is just plain confusing. Presumably, Ed Matheson is still writing about Glove Pond here, and if that is the case, it would seem that Glove Pond is indeed separate from the rest of the book, and that the letters could actually be letters, not just made up out of one person’s head. Matheson essentially tells Roger that he sucks at writing for reasons that are the same as complaints people have about Douglas Coupland’s works. Indeed, Roger, Bethany, Dee Dee and Joan all seem like real people. Even Kyle and Brittany seem like real people. However, Steve and Gloria definitely do NOT seem like real people.

    So, let’s assume here that Matheson is only critiquing Glove Pond. Steve and Gloria are characters who one would hope could only exist in writing. In fact, the characters are talking about writing a novel, which brings attention even just to Glove Pond as writing. I would have to disagree with Matheson about the characters and writing here. Even just reading Glove Pond seems like reading “writing,” bold, and ballsy, if not masterful as well.

    Looking at the book as a whole, perhaps Coupland is calling attention to the fact that he has now done what his audience had complained that he had not done. The reader MUST be aware that he or she is reading writing – one cannot really lose him or herself inside this text.

    The tone of Matheson’s critique is scathing enough for a reader to feel how hurtful it would be for someone to tell you that you are writing the “wrong” way. Perhaps Coupland is trying to put his readers in his shoes, showing them how he does not like to be told that his writing is the wrong way to write.

    I’ll finish by saying that I enjoyed this novel, but I don’t know what to make of it, or even HOW to read it.

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