Worst. Person. Ever.
Worst. Person. Ever. is a deeply unworthy book about a dreadful human being with absolutely no redeeming social value. Raymond Gunt, in the words of the author, "is a living, walking, talking, hot steaming pile of pure id." He's a B-unit cameraman who enters an amusing downward failure spiral that takes him from London to Los Angeles and then on to an obscure island in the Pacific where a major American TV network is shooting a Survivor-style reality show. Along the way, Raymond suffers multiple comas and unjust imprisonment, is forced to reenact the "Angry Dance" from the movie Billy Elliot and finds himself at the centre of a nuclear war. We also meet Raymond's upwardly failing sidekick, Neal, as well as Raymond's ex-wife, Fiona, herself "an atomic bomb of pain."
Even though he really puts the "anti" in anti-hero, you may find Raymond Gunt an oddly likeable character. But you will want to wash his mouth out with soap.
1. Raymond Gunt considers himself a reasonable person, do you agree or disagree? What were your first impressions of him? Did they change by the end of the book?
Discuss how Raymond is a product of our society. Is he a twenty-first century antihero, or a spiteful misanthrope who you want to see fail?...
“A satirical, misanthropic romp through reality television, environmental disaster and apocalyptic possibilities. Once again, Coupland...has asserted himself as a documenter of our times and anticipator of societal threats.... The plugged-in consumer-culture philosopher has created a brand of his own, becoming—and, over the long haul, remaining—a thinky superstar for a distracted era. More than 20 years after he became a pop-culture darling with Generation X, Coupland is still innovating—not simply cranking out words and sculptures, but making a significant contribution with astute observations.... As the country’s go-to guy for art, design, and contemporary social commentary, could Coupland be Canada’s Biggest. (Cultural). Brain. Ever?”
—Marsha Lederman, The Globe and Mail
“Worst. Person. Ever....is an outrageous comic riot, delivered as a tear-inducingly funny and pitch-black farce.... In its picaresque extravagance, the novel resembles a globetrotting, 21st-century version of Voltaire’s Candide.... Coupland’s eye for the strange, mesmerising wonder of modernity is being put, more than ever, to extremely dark use here. The fact that it is all so demented—and so frequently, belly-achingly hilarious—only makes that darkness all the more impressive.”
—Robert Collins, The Sunday Times
“There are Douglas Coupland novels that feel like a quiet, foggy, West Coast morning spent over a cup of tea. Others are a Zipper ride at a nighttime carnival with a belly full of fryer foods. Worst. Person. Ever. is the latter: flashy, loud, a bit unsettling, and screamingly fun. It gleefully pushes past absurdity into farce…. What follows is a series of mishaps so ridiculous, so over-the-top, the reader simply needs to let go and enjoy the ride.”
—Quill and Quire
“The novel is a scatological bun-fight of excess and debauchery, of juvenile humour peppered with bilious rage at the state of the world…. It’s riotous, frequently very funny…. I can’t locate very much seriousness, but I certainly enjoyed trying.”
—Martin Fletcher, The Independent