November 07, 2011

Book Review : Player One by Douglas Coupland

The book claims to be a five-hour real-time story set in an airport cocktail lounge. Five(technically speaking, its four) 'different' characters end up stumbling on each other in the lounge in what happens to be a global disaster in the 'outside world'. Coupland introduces his characters in the beginning of the book; the story is spread across 5 chapters with each chapter happening over a span of an hour. You do not feel each of the hours passing by as you read the book, but the characters do change with the course of events and exhibit their unique traits.

I had started with MicroSerfs a few days back and simply loved the plot and Doug's style of humour and storytelling. He makes the reader think from different angles towards his subject and imagine or role play his characters and leaves the final summary to be deciphered - and this is exactly how he does in this book wherein he makes his characters travel through time(over a span of 5 odd hours) in an airport lounge.

The single biggest thing about Coupland is his witticisms and the way they are spewed all around, even during times of a disaster. The characters emerges from its shell and presents interesting(and the usual) questions about life and time, albeit in a slightly different fashion.

A few of them:
..a plane trip exposes you to situations and landscapes unthinkable until recent history, moments of magnificence and banality that dissolve what few itty-bitty molecules of individuality you possess. After a plane trip, you need to rebuild your ego, to shore up your sense of being unique. Thats why religions target airports to find new recruits...
History only remembers people who invent new hairdos : Julius Caesar, Einstein, Hitler, Marilyn Monroe. Why bother with conquering Europe or discovering nuclear science when all you need is a bit of style innovation? If Marie Curie had given a bit more attention to her appearance she'd have been on the ten dollar bill.
When Donald Duck traded his wings for arms, do you think he was trading up or trading down?
The last 20-30 pages of the book contain Doug'sims which are nothing but definitions of some sesquipedallion syndromes and characteristics of the present society and way of life - these are interesting and worthy of a read(very Tyler-Durden-like).

It is not a "great" read, but does ask some of the most often asked questions on society, religion, after-life, existentialism, human-identity etc. In my honest opinion the plot was not a great read, and neither was the character-play; it was the wittiness of the author and the way he presents the questions(and some of them unanswered)  to the readers that makes this book a buy.

No comments: