Published 16 days ago by Craig M Harris
3.0 out of 5 stars Delicous sound bites, but without the teeth
For all of the clear-sighted, rambling and often hilarious pop-culture regurgitation Douglas Coupland has gleefully provided over the years, his control of prose may ultimately reveal as much about his generation than the thousands of details he's cross-referenced. _Miss Wyoming_, a screwball blend of satire and tongue-in-cheek formula romance, is a perfect example; it...
Published on June 6 2002 by Andrew
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars,
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This review is from: Miss Wyoming (Paperback)
Great read. Coupland at his penetrating best.
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't miss the point of this book,
I came to Coupland late, so I don't have the axe to grind of "not as good as Generation-X". In the last 12 months, I've read all Couplands books and I think that this and Shampoo Planet are my favourites. I've read the reviews below and cannot understand some of them. One complained of the number of Anglicisms in the book. Now, for one Coupland is Canadian so uses more Anglicisms than someone from Dead-dog Indiana, secondly - try being British and having Americanisms rammed at you all day. The worst comment was that the satire was pointed at targets that were too easy. This misses the point of the book. What Coupland does so well is to take easy targets and make you care about them -- it would be easy to mock a grown-up child beauty queen and her monster of a mother, it's a lot harder to make you understand what makes them tick and see them as real people. Buy and read this book, then go away and buy and read all Coupland's others (apart from Lara's Book).
3.0 out of 5 stars Delicous sound bites, but without the teeth,
This review is from: MISS WYOMING (UNABR.) (6 CASS.) (Audio Cassette)
For all of the clear-sighted, rambling and often hilarious pop-culture regurgitation Douglas Coupland has gleefully provided over the years, his control of prose may ultimately reveal as much about his generation than the thousands of details he's cross-referenced. _Miss Wyoming_, a screwball blend of satire and tongue-in-cheek formula romance, is a perfect example; it coasts along on delicious, eloquent rants on the intricate facades of American life but lacks the sincerity and attention to the subtleties of human behavior desperately needed to get under our skin.
As a character, Ramsay-esque child beauty pageant queen-turned-sitcom star Susan Colgate is vaguely drawn (every aspect of what passes for her personality is justified by Freudian pop psychology) and never seems quite clever enough to pull off some of the stunts the narrative requires. Her mother is a pastiche of great camp icons - part Mommie Dearest, part Divine - and between her trailer-trash upbringing, her constant exposure to female rivalry, and her brushes with the rich and famous, you'd think she might be able to wrap her enhanced lips around some juicy (or at least campy) dialogue. But like her carrot-tanned, straight-outta "Valley of the Dolls" romantic destiny, failed Hollywood director John Johnson, she's moved through an outrageous set of circus acts and freak coincidences with many chances to meditate on her failure but no memorable sound bites to call her own.
Giving more space to fewer characters is not the best tactic for Coupland, who has perfected his dry, witty monologue on the banal images littering the American consciousness but has yet to infuse them with a strong sense of vernacular or lend them to the rhythms of intimate conversation. This tactic works well when writing about overeducated slackers or codependent geeks, easy surrogates for Coupland's rants, but feels out of place in a narrative about ordinary people in incredibly bizarre circumstances. And the circumstances here, while often whimsical and amusing, veer too far beyond the realm of believability to sustain the caustic bite we might expect from a parody of our image-obsessed, youth-driven pop culture. In _Miss Wyoming_, we are treated to a series of events recycled from soap-opera plots - including a plane crash, a surprise death, and a kidnapping - that are good for a few jokes but veer too far away from the novel's satirical aim to strike any targets. And while the parallel plotlines are very tightly constructed, the characters within them are not drawn thoroughly enough to make the payoff truly rewarding.
As a collection of quotables, _Miss Wyoming_ has enough playful prose and incisive observation to remain fun and engaging. But with more focus, a sharper edge, and fewer flights of fancy, it could have retained its relevance long after its references became "retro."
4.0 out of 5 stars A Cynical Novel With Heart...,
I avoided this author's work as I hated the moniker "Generation X" that was attached to it. Being of this supposed group,I really didn't want to read a book claiming(or being claimed as) the book that defined myself and other people in one broad stroke(or so I thought) So I skipped that one,but, after reading "Miss Wyoming" I just might get around to it. Coupland really has a handle on all things pop culture and he's a good writer as well. The story seemed convuluted at times,but then I realized that was the tone of the book,which is full of bizarre coincidences and situations. And,as odd as these people seem,you really do end up(for the most part) caring about them. Btw,Ryan & Vanessa,two supporting charactors in the book,were interesting enough for a story of their own.Overall, A better book than I expected.
5.0 out of 5 stars Coupland's best fictional work,
Miss Wyoming is simply a great book. While I enjoyed Microserfs for it's witty and satirical look at life in the mid to late 1990s, but this book has much more depth. Life After God, a super book, shows the depths that Coupland is capable of. Again, he does not abandon the style that brought him this far. Colgate and Johnson (who seems supiciously like Don Simpson, if Simpson had lived and found redemption) are fully drawn and lively characters. You care about what happens to them. Colgate's Jonbenet/Tina Yothers (okay, not a beauty queen) life rings true. Johnson sets out like John Sullivan in Preston Sturges' Sullivan's Travels. The results of his journey are different, but just as important. The love story and mystery work well. Miss Wyoming works as satire, love story, and social commentary. A terrific read.
4.0 out of 5 stars Read it if you want something offbeat by accessible,
This book came to me at the perfect time. I like quirky, unusual stories that poke fun at the establishment and make me laugh. I was in the mood for such a book and lucked out when I read "Miss Wyoming." The story was thoroughly entertaining. While it may seem like a no-brainer to make fun of a beauty queen and her white-trash mom, Coupland keeps you entertained with a chain of events that is anything but predictable. He knows that these characters could and probably do exist, but the combination of all these weirdos in one book and the journey they take is laugh-out-loud funny. No one takes themselves too seriously, a keen point which keeps the story fresh. The characters know they have foibles, personality quirks and such, but they face life and deal with it with results that are fun to watch from the sidelines. His writing is clear and keeps the momentum going. It was a perfect book to read before bed or while sitting in the sunshine.
5.0 out of 5 stars Full of interesting twists and turns,
I have yet to be disappointed by a Douglas Coupland book (this is my third). In this book, the settings may involve the glamorous worlds of television, movies, and beauty pageants, but the themes of loneliness and the search for meaning come through strong and clear. I especially loved Susan's response to winning the Miss USA Teen Pageant, and the reaction she got to what she did. The side characters, particularly Vanessa, are fun, too. The best part -- the themes may be dense, but the reading isn't.
3.0 out of 5 stars Well-written, but not his finest,
At its heart, this book is about identity: shedding identity, losing identity, finding identity, all set against a presumably shallow Hollywood backdrop. The characters are basically stereotypes -- the burned out producer, the former child model -- bumping up against each other in an attempt to create meaning.
Coupland's talent shows through here, despite the hackneyed premise of the book. He manages to invigorate many of these old stereotypes and create a novel which does redeem itself to some extent from its iffy initial premise. But I agree with a previous reviewer that this is NOT the best introduction to Coupland's work.
What he accomplishes here is a demonstration of his considerable skill, working himself into and out of corners most writers wouldn't touch. But in the end, this book is unsatisfying, leaving me dreaming of the realistic characters he gave voice to in Shampoo Planet, Microserfs, and perhaps most strikingly, Girlfriend in a Coma.
Coupland may have begun the Gen-X literary revolution, but he has dropped the ball rather obviously with "Miss Wyoming". I hope he'll find his way back on track in time for his next novel, due out this fall.
2.0 out of 5 stars A Weak First Date with Douglas,
This was my first experience with a Douglas Coupland book, and to be quite honest, probably my last. I kept reading and reading and reading, hoping to find something redeeming in this completely stale satire--sadly, it feels dashed off, all the way to the bitter end. Weaknesses? Try the cardboard characters to start with. Any time an author lifts a persona from real life, you have to wonder if they're really trying any more. Here you have real life Hollywood producers Don Simpson (now dead) and Jerry Bruckheimer in the cardboard forms of main character John Johnson and his pal Ivan--Hollywood director and producer of big budget garbage. The other main character is a former teen beauty queen, turned moderate sitcom star, turned rock star wife, turned druggie--talk about cliché.
Both come near to dying and subsequently run away from the sad lives they've constructed, trying to reimagine themselves and start life fresh. But they've been living such self-destructive lives in rarefied circles few of us will ever encounter, which makes it hard to feel much sympathy for them. This has all been done before, with characters that actually feel real, and with writing that actually sparkles. The story, such as it is, takes place over a three-day period interspersed with many a flashback. The convoluted non-linear structure feels wholly contrived, as if Coupland realized he'd have to perform some legerdemain to distract from the stale soap opera material.
The notion that this book is some kind of masterpiece of satire is ridiculous the moment you look at what is being satirized: Hollywood, beauty pageants, celebrity, pop culture? All have been skewered ten times over and ten times better by a raft of books and films--we are given nothing new or fresh to chew on here. A fairly disappointing book, considering Coupland's reputation. Oh yes, one last editorial annoyance: Why are there Anglicism scattered throughout the book?
4.0 out of 5 stars Intriguing satire!,
By A Customer
This was my first Coupland book. I know nothing about this author or his other works. I was in an airport desperate for something to read, and I grabbed this book at random. This book was excellent! The satire was perfect, the two main characters were extremely likeable, the villain (Susan's mother) was detestable, the plot was great, and the suspense was perfect. This was an excellent read! I could not put it down. I didn't give it 5 stars because there are some serious continuity issues in the book, and I'm sort of a stickler for things like that. These errors should have been picked up by an editor.
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Miss Wyoming by Douglas Coupland (Paperback - Jan. 9 2001)
CDN$ 21.00 CDN$ 15.33