JPod by Douglas CouplandJPod 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.
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...
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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Rated 5 out of 5 by from must read! amazing book, amazing character development & plot. a must read
Date published: 2016-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Made me want to work in Jpod This book is funny! It has random pages of code - just loads of sheer randomness! The story itself is funny, and I could totally see a group of people working together being like this, but the antics they get into are so out of the blue. I laughed a fair bit! A nice easy read. The characters are unique in their own right. I recommend this.
Date published: 2016-11-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Read it about 6 times, so far Only book where I have post-its on pages, and after reading the section again (for the Nth time) I still laugh to tears. In my Top 3 favorite books. Only book that I've read more than twice, (I'm at 6 times so far) and I'd still pick it up tomorrow to plow through it in a few days. The plausibility of the sheer randomness of these characters is what makes this book great. They're crazy - in their own endearing ways, and yet, you know someone like them! Letters to Ronald McDonald - a classic!
Date published: 2014-12-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Pod or not, you can still imagine it Like many people I grew up with. Scary!
Date published: 2013-01-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The medium is the message! very fun read - couldnt put it down.
Date published: 2009-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic Great book, I think I plowed through Jpod in about two days. If you work in a office environment and/or geared towards the IT sector you will absolutly LOVE this book. I found myself multiple times through out the book saying "It is so true."
Date published: 2008-12-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Excellent Canadiana Literature Coupland does it again.... first of all Coupland is a phenominal author who always challenges me to think of life and its wonderful twists and turns as we walk our own extraordinary lives. This one of his is no different, picked it up @ the closest chapters on a yuletime shopping adventure as a treat for myself and was automatically glued to the words, asking my mother about autism and aspergers as well as relating the people in the story to similar characters in real life. This and many other Coupland novels are a must have for ones prized bookshelf.
Date published: 2008-06-18
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Updated Microsoft. Funny. The characters are CONSTANTLY bashing Douglas Coupland.
Date published: 2008-06-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Totally Random, Totally Amazing! The characters in this story are all quirky and everything they go through is totally random but just works. Its a super good read and im really enjoying it.
Date published: 2008-04-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Got me back into reading I absolutely loved this book, from beginning to end. The writing is great, the story is absolutely hilarious, and the characters are captivating. I was done this book the same day that I bought it, because I couldn't put it down. I will undoubtedly read it again soon enough; incredible!
Date published: 2008-02-03
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Not Coupland's best What looks to be like an updated version of Microserfs, Coupland puts a bunch of wacky characters into a video game company in Vancouver as gaming programmers. All characters have last names that end with the letter J, hence the name of their little pod at work "jPod". The main character, Ethan, begins the book by helping his mom get rid of the body of her ex-lover/grow-op helper. More crazy events ensue that could never happen to anyone in their entire life, let alone in the couple of months that this book takes place in. This includes fighting bad marketing in your company from adding a character named "Jeff Probst", going over to China to bring back a heroine-addicted co-worker, being forced to watch your father ball room dance with a male friend, helping your mother get through her phase of ultra feminism, and dealing with one author named Douglas Coupland. Yes, you heard me right, Coupland puts himself in this novel many times. At first, it just seems tacky. The characters talk about how they feel like Coupland novel characters. But in the end, it sort of works out because Coupland writes himself in as a full character - one that interacts with the jPodders. This book definitely had it's funny moments, but overall was just bizarre. Much more so than Microserfs. If you haven't read either, I suggest reading Microserfs and skipping this one unless you're a hardcore Coupland fan, or work in the IT industry.
Date published: 2007-12-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Hilarious and Much Needed It takes a true bibliophile to appreciate the type of fiction in this book. While many claim this book to be a waste of paper, it is most surely not. This book is dripping with wit, sarcasm, jokes, and extremely great writing. The book follows one of our main characters, Ethan throughout his life working for a video game company in Vancouver, BC. Ethan has had the bad luck of being stuck in JPOD, a pod of cubicles where everyone is stuck simply because of their last names. We follow Ethan through such events as his mother killing a biker, to him falling in love with the new girl at work and falling in with a Chinese mob boss. This book is DEFINITELY worth reading.
Date published: 2007-10-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from A waste of good paper, and my time. I knew something was wrong when the characters started mentioning the author of the book they were was kind of like watching a movie and seeing the edge of the set, with people standing around watching actors and angling lights. It got worse in the end, when coupland actually inserted himself as a character into the book, And he was a bad character. The basic premise of the book seemed to be "our lives have no meaning, ummm cool huh?" As i read the book i waited to be impressed, but on finishing it i decided that it is definitely not a book i would pass on to a friend. So I'm contemplating some Jpod mache...
Date published: 2007-08-28
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Dripping With Sarcasam, Dried up Story Line As an avid fan of Coupland's writing style and previous novels, I must say I was pretty disappointed with "JPod". I started the book with high hopes, which were strung along, then dashed at the very end when I realized the story basically had no point at all. Coupland sets the novel up to seem to have some deep message, or "revelation" and it was disappointing not to find anything. Yes, he made his obvious jabs at pop culture, and technology but lacked character development, and an ending so to speak. I don't discourage reading "JPod" as guaranteed you'll be granted a few laughs, but if you're looking for deeper meaning, or "point" familiar with most of Coupland's work then "JPod" is not the place to look.
Date published: 2007-04-26
Rated 1 out of 5 by from It's Best Described As This: "Not Horrible" Short Version: Don't bother with it. Long Version: A novel needs conflict. It's characters need to be interesting. They need to grow and feel emotion and interact meaningfully with one another. Above all, there needs to be a reason for the novel being written in the first place. A moral, a story, a lesson, a plot. These are all things this book simply does not achieve. It's not meta, it's not post-modern, it's not ironic, it's just boring. Not only boring! The author spends a lot of time talking about game design, but seems to have forgotten to research anything about it. Here is how Coupland would write about surgery: "I cut the dude with a knife, then reached inside and pulled out some stuff, which had gone bad and all slimy." It's not interesting to read if you simply make it up. The book is, at best, an interesting look at how high-school English projects can be used to take up once-useful paper by a lazy author who cannot introduce his characters in more meaningful ways. At worst, it is a story of boring, unchanging characters who's actions are uninteresting, over-simplified and meaningless. Don't Even Bother.
Date published: 2007-01-06

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