Toronto has Margaret Atwood, Montreal has Mordecai Richler, and now Vancouver has its own literary spokesperson. Douglas Coupland, author of societal pulse-taking novels like Generation X
, and Shampoo Planet
, turns his bemused eye on his hometown's quirks and quarks in this easy-going, photo-heavy tour. Coupland's voice is droll, whether explaining the way the ferries work ("the ferry experience involves waiting; that's because it's government-run") or theorizing on the origins of street names like Biddesden and Pyrford (he conjectures they were named by old English lords having a good laugh over a dram back in London). Having grown up in Vancouver, the author has a wellspring of childhood memories to draw from, and his reminisces add an even more personal note to pieces on well-known destinations like Grouse Mountain and Chinatown. An artist as well as an author, Coupland has an opinion on just about everything, from Greenpeace (begun in Vancouver) to the number eight (considered lucky by Chinese residents), but he is especially astute at capturing the essence of the city from an architectural perspective. "They made about as much sense in the neighbourhoods into which they were inserted as a UFO in Versailles," he writes of the type of dwelling units he calls "monster houses." And an essay about Lions Gate Bridge, in which Coupland mixes personal recollections with bridge lore, is enough to make even the most jaded Vancouverite see the town in a teary-eyed new light.
Though by no means comprehensive--what about, say, the people mosaic of Commercial Drive?--Coupland's book is a colourful, chatty guide, hitting on both obscure and famous Vancouver characteristics alike. Whether the reader is familiar with the city or a complete stranger, or simply a fan of witty, insightful prose, he or she will find much to enjoy in this portrait of what the author calls--rightfully, one is convinced by the end--"a dream of a city." --Shawn Conner
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
"This is Coupland
's attempt -- just in time for the Vancouver Olympics -- to answer the questions visitors always ask about the city he loves, even before they ask them." (Globe & Mail
"The renowned Generation X
author's humorous take on the area, from its drug culture ad tourist destinations to its people, food and film industry." (Daily Gleaner
"Subjective in tone and sexy to look at, City of Glass
is a delightfully outlandish travel book -- just the sort of whacked-out guide you wish every was available for every great city in the world." (Globe & Mail
"Conversational text swatches are interwoven with brilliant photojournalistic images, giving us a flaneur's-eye-view of Vancouver." (National Post
"Here are moments of sparkling insight, and a perceptive reframing of many familiar snapshots of the city, more than enough to make Coupland
's tour worthwhile." (Maclean's