The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland

The Gum Thief

byDouglas Coupland

Kobo ebook | March 18, 2009

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The first and only story of love and looming apocalypse set in the aisles of an office supply superstore.

In Douglas Coupland’s ingenious new novel–sort of a Clerks-meets-Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf–we meet Roger, a divorced, middle-aged “aisles associate” at a Staples outlet, condemned to restocking reams of twenty-lb. bond paper for the rest of his life. And then there’s Roger’s co-worker Bethany, who’s at the end of her Goth phase, and young enough to be looking at fifty more years of sorting the red pens from the blue in Aisle Six.

One day, Bethany comes across Roger’s notebook in the staff room. When she opens it up, she discovers that this old guy she’s never considered as quite human is writing mock diary entries pretending to be her–and spookily, he is getting her right. She also learns he has a tragedy in his past–and suddenly he no longer seems like just a paper-stocking robot with a name tag.

These two retail workers strike up a peculiar and touching epistolary relationship, their lives unfolding alongside Roger’s work-in-progress, the oddly titled Glove Pond, a Cheever-era novella gone horribly, horribly wrong. Through a complex layering of narratives, The Gum Thief, highlights number-one bestselling author Douglas Coupland’s eye for the comedy, loneliness and strange comforts of contemporary life.

On every page of this witty, wise and unforgettable novel, Coupland reminds us that love, death and eternal friendship can all transpire where we least expect them. And that even after tragedy seems to have wiped your human slate clean, stories can slowly rebuild you.

*I’m the dead girl whose locker you spat on somewhere between recess and lunch.

I’m not really dead, but I dress like I want to be. There’s something generic about girls like me: we hate the sun, we wear black, and we feel trapped inside our bodies like a nylon fur mascot at a football game.

I wish I were dead most of the time. I can’t believe the meat I got stuck with, and where I got stuck and with whom. I wish I were a ghost.

And FYI, I’m not in school any more, but the spitting thing was real: a little moment that sums up life. I work in a Staples. I’m in charge of restocking aisles 2-North and 2-South: Sheet Protectors, Indexes & Dividers, Note books, Post-It Products, Paper Pads, Specialty Papers and “Social Stationery.” Do I hate this job? Are you nuts? Of course I hate it. How could you not hate it? Everyone who works with me is either already damaged or else they’re embryos waiting to be damaged, fresh out of school and slow as a 1999 modem. Just because you’ve been born and made it through high school doesn’t mean society can’t still abort you. Wake up.

Let me try to say something positive here. For balance.

Staples allows me to wear black lipstick to work.

from The GumThief

From the Hardcover edition.

Title:The Gum ThiefFormat:Kobo ebookPublished:March 18, 2009Publisher:Random House of CanadaLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0307371387

ISBN - 13:9780307371386

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Rated 4 out of 5 by from Different This book is different. and that's a great thing! I read this when I was just out of high school and was working in retail. I was so interested in the stories of each character because of how realistic they seemed. I pretty much worked with each character in this book. It's funny, charming and at times - depressing. You will feel every emotion while reading this!
Date published: 2017-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Coupland has done it again! A beautiful story that I have read multiple times. Coupland is an amazing author and this is one of his best!
Date published: 2017-06-29
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Wonderful, but incredibly depressing Can it really be both? I thought so... Very real (maybe too real), and poignant representation of current North American existence.
Date published: 2017-03-24
Rated 1 out of 5 by from terrible I have read a lot of books in my life. The only reason this is memorable is that the story line sucks. however, jpod is cute and quirky. It is a funny story. CBC did a terrible job to make this book into a tv series. I should be made into a movie.
Date published: 2009-09-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Office Supply Stores Like Never Before! The Gum Thief by Douglas Coupland was a novel that I knew I needed to read as soon as I found out that it was set in a Staples office supply store. The unusual setting called out to me, and I was well rewarded for listening. I was impressed with how captivating and exciting the author made Staples turn out to be! I loved the unique, but easy to relate to characters. Their thoughts and dialogue often left me laughing out loud. I could genuinely sympathize with the characters and their situations while being highly entertained. Despite the hilarious observations made about people and the bizarre situations that presented themselves in this book, there were quite a lot of deep, often insightful truths revealed about life. I expected this book to be a light "fluff" read, but if you take the time to think about what is being said, it has a much more meaningful quality to it. Under the humorous exterior of The Gum Thief, there is a lot of deep exploration into human emotions and desires. Glove Pond, the novel within the novel, was very funny, and it also kept the pace of the novel from getting tedious. I enjoyed the little breaks in the main plot. The toast bits made me laugh a lot too. Those who have no idea what I'm talking about will understand once they have read it. Another great element of The Gum Thief is that Coupland filled it with nifty tidbits of information. I often found myself wondering whether something mentioned was true or not, which resulted in me rushing off to Google it. I enjoyed the format that the novel was written in, a series of journal entries and letters, because it kept the plot fast paced, yet comfortable. It was a well written book, and I thought it had a great flow. I would absolutely recommend this novel to anyone who likes to curl up with a good book!
Date published: 2009-01-22
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Interesting Novel! Such a unique book... I am unsure what I think. This sounds like a bad comment, however I don't mean it that way at all. Who could have imagined that two Staples employees could be so extremely interesting. Meet Roger, a divorced middle-age man, and Bethany, a twenty-something year old girl who hides behind her goth make up and black clothes. It all begins when Roger forgets his notebook in the Staples (Shtooples) lunchroom and Bethany comes across it. Bethany soon finds that Roger has written mock diary entries pretending to be her. Describing what he thinks her life is like, why she dresses the way she does, what she cares about in life, etc. And of course, Bethany has something to say about it. Also, Roger uses this notebook as his safe haven for his first attempt at a novel called Glove Pond. Incredibly interesting story in itself. This story, in a way, applies to his real life. Not directly but indirectly. Roger and Bethany grow a special bond which is, in my opinion, indescribable. Douglas Coupland has filled each page with such wit and precision. This book has so much more to offer than meets the eye. It really makes you think about the simple yet complex things in life. The only way to understand this novel is by reading it. A very fast read because each page holds you there wanting more! I cannot wait to read my next Coupland novel.
Date published: 2009-01-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I really start to wonder who of us Douglas Coupland is watching out there.... "Clerks-meets-Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf" really does sum it up (and if you have yet to read/see the play Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf" get on it and this book will mean even more to you). Douglas Coupland writes real people and real dialog for this day and age. If you've ever worked in a superstore or department store you may find this a tad more amusing than others do. Another great read.
Date published: 2008-08-12