JPod by Douglas Coupland


byDouglas Coupland

Paperback | January 2, 2007

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A lethal joyride into today’s new breed of technogeeks, Coupland’s forthcoming novel updates Microserfs for the age of Google.

Ethan Jarlewski and five co-workers whose names start with J are bureaucratically marooned in jPod. jPod is a no-escape architectural limbo on the fringes of a massive Vancouver game design company.

The six workers daily confront the forces that define our era: global piracy, boneheaded marketing staff, people smuggling, the rise of China, marijuana grow ops, Jeff Probst, and the ashes of the 1990s financial tech dream. jPod’s universe is amoral and shameless. The characters are products of their era even as they’re creating it.

Everybody in Ethan’s life inhabits a moral grey zone. Nobody is exempt, not even his seemingly straitlaced parents or Coupland himself, as readers will see.

Full of word games, visual jokes and sideways jabs, this book throws a sharp, pointed lawn dart into the heart of contemporary life. jPod is Douglas Coupland at the top of his game.

Excerpt from jPod:

I slunk into the BoardX meeting where Steve, Gord-O, and staff from the loftiest perches of the food chain were still trying to nail the essence of Jeff the Charismatic Turtle. Prototype turtle sketches were pinned onto a massive cork wall, all of them goofy and teensploitational: sunglasses, baggy pants and (dear God) a terry-cloth sweatband.

“Does Jeff the Turtle follow players around the entire time they manipulate their third person?”

“Almost. Like Watson is to Sherlock Holmes.”

“Can you imagine how annoying that would be?”

“Maybe the buddy isn’t such a good idea.”

Steve squashed that hope. “It’s going to be a buddy. Players will love it.”

“It’s really Poochie-Joins-Itchy-and-Scratchy.”

“How am I ever going to look somebody who plays Tony Hawk games in the face again?”

“Isn’t our turtle supposed to be a bit more studly?”

“Turtles aren’t studly by nature.”

“What about the turtle they used in the 1950s to pimp the atomic weapons program? He was kind of studly.”

“No he wasn’t and, besides, he’s dead.”


“Dead. Hanged himself from the side of his posh midtown Manhattan terrarium. Left a note saying he couldn’t handle the shame of what he’d done. Wrote it on a piece of Bibb lettuce.”

From the Hardcover edition.

About The Author

Douglas Coupland was born on a NATO base in Germany in 1961. He is the author of Eleanor Rigby, Hey Nostradamus!, All Families Are Psychotic, Microserfs and Generation X, among others. He is also a visual artist and sculptor, furniture designer and screenwriter, as well as the author of Souvenir of Canada and its sequel, Souvenir of Ca...
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Details & Specs

Title:JPodFormat:PaperbackDimensions:528 pages, 8.98 × 6 × 1.11 inPublished:January 2, 2007Publisher:Random House of CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0679314253

ISBN - 13:9780679314257

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Extra Content

Read from the Book

"Oh God. I feel like a refugee from a Douglas Coupland novel.”“That asshole.”“Who does he think he is?”“Come on, guys, focus. We’ve got a major problem on our hands.”The six of us were silent, but for our footsteps. The main corridor’s muted plasma TVs blipped out the news and sports, while ­co-­workers in ­long-­sleeved blue and black ­T-­shirts ­oompah-­loompahed in and out of ­laminate-­access doors, elevated walkways, staircases and elevators, their missions inscrutable and squirrelly. It was a rare sunny day. Freakishly articulated sunbeams highlighted specks of mica in the hallway’s designer granite. They looked like randomized particle ­events.Mark said, “I can’t even think about what just happened in there.”John Doe said, “I’d like to do whatever it is people statistically do when confronted by a jolt of large and bad news.”I suggested he ingest five milligrams of Valium and three shots of hard liquor or four glasses of domestic ­wine.“Really?”“Don’t ask me, John. Google it.”“And so I shall.”Cowboy had a jones for cough syrup, while Bree fished through one of her many pink vinyl Japanese handbags for lip gloss – phase one of her ­well-­established pattern of pursuing sexual conquest to silence her inner ­pain.The only quiet member of our group of six was Kaitlin, new to our work area as of the day before. She was walking with us mostly because she didn’t yet know how to get from the meeting room to our cubicles. We’re not sure if Kaitlin is boring or if she’s resistant to bonding, but then again none of us have really cranked up our ­charm.We passed Warren from the motion capture studio. “Yo! jPodsters! A turtle! All right!” He flashed a thumbs-­up.“Thank you, Warren. We can all feel the love in the room.”Clearly, via the gift of text messaging, Warren and pretty much everyone in the company now knew of our plight, which is this: during today’s marketing meeting we learned we now have to retroactively insert a charismatic cuddly turtle character into our skateboard game, which is already nearly ­one-­third of the way through its production cycle. Yes, you read that correctly, a turtle character–in a skateboard ­game.The ­three-­hour meeting had taken place in a two-­hundred-­seat room nicknamed the ­air-­conditioned rectum. I tried to make the event go faster by pretending to have superpower vision: I could see the carbon dioxide pumping in and out of everyone’s nose and mouth – it was purple. It made me think of that urban legend about the chemical they put in swimming pools that reveals when somebody pees. Then I wondered if Leonardo da Vinci had ever inhaled any of the oxygen molecules I was breathing, or if he ever had to sit through a marketing meeting. What would that have been like? “Leo, thanks for your input, but our studies indicate that when they see Lisa smile, they want a sexy, flirty smile, not that grim little slit she has now. Also, I don’t know what that closet case Michelangelo is thinking with that naked David guy, but Jesus, clamp a diaper onto him pronto. Next item on the agenda: Perspective – Passing Fad or Opportunity to Win? But first, Katie here is going to tell us about this Friday’s Jeans Day, to be followed by a ­ten-­minute muffin break.”But the word “turtle” pulled me out of my reverie, uttered by Fearless Leader–our new head of marketing, Steve. I put up my hand and quite reasonably asked, “Sorry, Steve, did you say a turtle?”Christine, a senior development director, said, “No need to be sarcastic, Ethan. Steve here took Toblerone chocolate and turned it around inside of two years.”“No,” Steve protested. “I appreciate an open dialogue. All I’m really saying is that, at home, my son, Carter, plays SimQuest4 and can’t get enough of its turtle character, and if my Carter likes turtle characters, then a turtle character is a winner, and thus, this skateboard game needs a turtle.”John Doe BlackBerried me: I CAN’T FEEL MY LEGSAnd so the order was issued to make our new turtle character “accessible” and “fun” and the buzzword is so horrible I have to spell it out in ASCII: “{101, 100, 103, 121}”• • •Back in our cubicle pod, the six of us fizzled away from each other like ginger ale bubbles. I had eighteen new emails and one phone message, my mother: “Dear, could you give me a call? I really need to speak with you–it’s an emergency.”An emergency? I phoned her cell right away. “Mom, what’s up? What’s wrong?”“Ethan, are you at work right now?”“Where else would I be?”“I’m at SuperValu. Let me call you back from a pay phone.”The line went dead. I picked it up when it ­rang.“Mom, you said this was an emergency.”“It is, dear. Ethan, honey, I need you to help me.”“I just got out of the Worst Meeting Ever. What’s going on?”“I suppose I’d better just tell you flat out.”“Tell me what?”“Ethan, I killed a biker.”“You killed a biker?”“Well, I didn’t mean to.”“Mom, how the hell did you manage to kill a biker?”“Ethan, just come home right now. I’ll be there in twenty minutes.”“Why doesn’t Dad help?”“He’s on a shoot today. He might get a speaking part.”She hung ­up.• • •On my way out of the office, I passed a ­world-­building team, standing in a semicircle, staring at a large ­German-­made knife on a ­desktop.“What’s up?” I ­asked.“It’s the knife we’re using to cut Aidan’s birthday cake,” a friend, Josh, ­replied.I looked more closely at the knife: it was clownishly big. “Okay, it’s ­hard-­core Itchy & Scratchy – but so what?”“We’re having a contest – we’re trying to see if there’s any way to hold a knife and walk across a room and not look psycho."From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

A KIRKUS BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR“Coupland is possibly the most gifted exegete of North American mass culture writing today…. JPod is without a doubt his strongest, best-observed novel since Microserfs.” –The Guardian (UK)“Coupland explores the landscape of our rapidly globalizing culture like a tourist armed with a digital camera and a limitless memory card, taking snapshots of everything that catches his eye.” –The Vancouver Sun“A first-rate novelist and observer of the contemporary scene.” –National Post“[Coupland has] given us a rollicking good, larger-than-life read.” –Ottawa Citizen“[Coupland] once again nails the zeitgeist of the age…. The best thing about JPod is its characteristic good writing … and its dark, unflagging wit.” –Calgary Sun“Coupland is an accomplished and talented writer whose books are perennial bestsellers.” –Quill & Quire“[JPod] is a work in which his familiar misgivings about life on the technological cusp are again invoked, but also one in which the skills he’s been developing as a novelist pay off, where his satirical streak and his social consciousness finally stop fooling around with each other and settle down together…. JPod is a sleek and necessary device: the finely tuned output of an author whose obsolescence is thankfully years away.” –The New York Times Book Review“JPod is a seriously funny book,…a rolling thunder of sustained comedy, first page to last, as it ends up, and skewers the shamelessness and amorality that define our era…. Coupland’s timing is impeccable: JPod is the right book at the right time.” –The Globe and MailPraise for Eleanor Rigby:“Coupland’s. . .most accomplished work to date. . .could be one of the first great novels of the new century.” ––Kirkus (starred review)“Eleanor Rigby. . .might prove to be among the best fiction of this new year.” –Los Angeles Times“What makes him hit us again and again, as though he were pelting meteorites from on high, is his ability to connect with ordinary human emotions and to make them profound.” –Elle (Canada)Praise for Hey Nostradamus!:“A leap sideways from the acid irony which has shaded some of Coupland’s earlier novels. Instead, from the pen of one of the coolest authors on the planet has come a work of suffusing humanity.” –Sunday Herald (UK)“The leading literary voice of the most cynical generation lets it all out in a blaze of spirituality, terror, high comedy and soul-searching, and does it all in a way that is caring and clever, heartbreaking and hilarious, tough and tender. . .not only Coupland’s best novel, but also one of the best of the year.” –The Hamilton Spectator