by Douglas Coupland
Category: Fiction / General
341 pages; ISBN: 0-00-655206-4
Rating: 7/10 (Ratings explained)
Douglas Coupland's sixth novel, while still recognisably him, marks a shift towards more adult themes.This is not necessarily a good thing.
The story is concerned with a 37 year old movie producer John Johnson who becomes obsessed with a former teen actress, Susan Colgate, when he sees her on a TV screen in hospital where he is recovering from an overdose.The book begins when they first meet but most of the significant action has already taken place by then."Miss Wyoming" is largely told in retrospect like "Wuthering Heights" with John and Susan's stories intertwined.
Coupland deserves credit for keeping control of the labyrinthine narrative consruction but this is not one of his better books.He has entirely dispensed with the posse of friends featured in all previous works.Susan and John are his first fully adult protagonists and genuine (if faded) celebrities rather than suburban wannabes.While both are fairly likeable abd John in particular has that familiar Couplandian ennui there's still a sense that he's not as sure of his ground with this one.The Hollywood scenes in particular seem to be the product of reading and viewing rather than experience with a jarring wish fulfilment episode (similar to the finale of "Shampoo Planet"- not his best either) when a script from a video store clerk who shares John's obsession with Susan turns out to be a masterpiece.
There is a noticeable increase in crude language and a little more sex though Coupland remains the most chaste of modern writers.The worst part of the novel is when Susan and her obnoxious stage mom Marilyn have their house demolished by a lump of frozen excrement falling from a plane - a sudden lurch into Tom Sharpe territory that fits like a stone in a shoe.
This is a guilty review since my copy is signed from meeting him (great guy by the way) in Manchester last year. "Miss Wyoming" is still a reasonable light read but he can do better.
Buy Miss Wyoming at amazon.co.uk