Reviews Satire

jPod – Douglas Coupland

I used to avoid anyone who’d read Generation X. I still haven’t ready it myself. Microserfs was an amusing and insightful short story bloated into a pointless schmaltzfest.

But BoingBoing plugged jPod so I bought a copy. And it’s very good.

jPod is uncomfortable and hilarious reading. Most critics seem to have missed the point of it. They complain about the intrusion of pointless lists, 418 spam, and pages of sparse typography into the text. They complain about the ironies all the way down. They complain about the pointlessness and coldness of the characters existences and the blankness of the characters themselves. And about their amoral world.

They complain, in other words, about the accurate portrayal of geek culture after the gold rush and its genuine ironies and insanities. This is something that needs demistifying not romanticising, a jPod not a Microserfs. It’s telling that many prefer the warmer, fuzzier, happy-ending-land of Microserfs. Shooting the messenger is a mistake, particularly when he’s a character in the book himself. Better to listen to what he’s saying, because it has needed saying for far too long now.