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Souvenir of Canada Paperback – Jun 15 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre; 1st Edition edition (June 15 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1550549170
  • ISBN-13: 978-1550549171
  • Product Dimensions: 1.3 x 21.6 x 24.1 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 581 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #95,749 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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Growing up in Canada, you take certain things for granted. For instance, most Canadians probably never think twice about the fact that Captain Crunch cereal becomes, with the flip of a box, "Capitaine Crounche." But Generation X author Douglas Coupland has thought twice about this--maybe more. It's this knack for illuminating contemporary life with such quirky perceptions that makes reading him such a treat. Souvenir of Canada, Coupland's image-thronged tribute to all things Canadian, is alphabetically divided into brief sections on everything from important issues like Native people's reserves and Canada's relationship with the U.S. (the White House desk "may well even have an ABSORB CANADA button") to such cultural ephemera as French-language cereal boxes. "Capitaine Crounche," he writes, "is so bizarre and cool looking... you just have to accept the fact that Canada is, in some obtusely Star Trek manner, a parallel-universe country." Coupland is as much at home calling on the big picture of history to make his point as he is referencing old sci-fi TV shows. In a piece about the Group of Seven landscape painters, he evokes the vastness of the country thus: "[I]n my head I was racing across Canada at a thousand kilometers a second: over the mountains that made the pioneers despair, across the prairies that will remain flat until our sun goes supernova...." And the author's wry wit is in evidence when, conjecturing how the short-necked beer bottle known as "the stubbie" became the industry standard, he writes: "Lord Fruity the beer magnate most likely went to school with Lord Eggy the glass heir, and he owed Lord Eggy a fortune in bridge debts, so to pay off the debts he had to use Lord Eggy's bottles. That's how Canada was run back then."

It's Coupland's free-ranging references and metaphors that, in the end, make Souvenir of Canada such a delightful read. It's by no means comprehensive--the blinkered view from his west Vancouver ivory tower fails to take in, say, Celine Dion, Bob and Doug McKenzie, or Trudeaumania. Instead we get his thoughts on poutine. Nevertheless, this is a coffee-table book in the best sense of the word. Fast, attractive, and insightful, it holds up a funhouse mirror in which warning labels on cigarette packages, the maple leaf, and Captaine Crounche take on a whole new "parallel universe" kind of cool. --Shawn Conner

Review

“Every Canadian should own this book. It’s amusing, thought-provoking and it’ll sure make you proud, in your own strange way, to be Canadian.” -- The Globe and Mail

“Go on, take a good look at this book. Take a good look at what it means to be us.” -- The National Post

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This is a wonderful, passionate, heartfelt rumination. Not as hilarious as Coupland usually is--it just means too much to him.
Nostalgic beyond his years, he wants to capture all that Canada has been in his lifetime: that Canada which is rapidly tofu-ing and beige-ing in the face of globalization.
I'm a dual citizen (b. in USA, but lived 8 years in Toronto) and have very strong allegiances to the Truth North. If you're Canadian, Doug will probably unravel some of the subtle, mysterious essence of your own "Canadian-ness," to you. If you're an American, read very carefully and you'll get some amazing clues. Doug does define in relation to the USA more than a wee bit, but as Trudeau once said: "No matter how you try, you can't ignore it if you're sleeping next to an elephant. Every time it moves even a tiny bit, you feel it."
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By A Customer on Oct. 1 2002
Format: Paperback
After two years living in Appalachian Kentucky it was a delight upon my return to Canada to read this book. Somehow it summed up everything that I feel about this land, and much that irks me as well.
The book probably resonates most with people of a certain age, especially those who are male and from the West Coast. Coupland is only a few years younger than myself, and a lot of what he described seemed very familiar.
I immediately sent our copy to a friend in Kentucky who is still trying to understand our country. I don't know how much it helped, but she enjoyed it.
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Format: Paperback
I read this book in two sittings. The photograph compositions where clever and did evoke familiarity - good and bad - about Canadian images and icons. Coupland's ramblings though, are insights that I believe all Canadians feel or have felt at least once in their lives. Ironically I think this book would have the greatest resonance with non-Canadians, although judging by the few American reviews posted, this suggestion may prove to be a stretch.
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Format: Paperback
This little book about the subtle and not so subtle differences between Canada and it's favourite neighbour to the south will tickle any loyal Canuck's funny bone. Coupland's highly constructed photographs of Canadian cultural artefacts will delight as childhood items such as table hockey, Honey Bee corn syrup and clear bottles of white vinegar are recognized as simply, 'unidentifiable by an American'. The alphabetical listings and descriptions of Coupland's Canadiana are brilliant. The only thing missing from this book is an acknowledgement that perhaps persons from outside the North American continent may be interested in the book (let alone Canada!), thus these items may also be unidentifiable or perhaps just plain ordinary to the rest of the world ...
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A great read and a great view of Canada almost from two simultanious view points i.e. that of a Canadian or insider looking in and at the same time an outsider looking in. It isn't a boring dizzyingly patriotic tome which is what I really like about it. Mr. Coupland talks about his vision of Canada, what and who we are as Canadians and as a Country intertwing the good and the bad. Summarizing it is difficult but I'll take a shot. Canada is a young counrty with hope and vision but that said we are really a colony of the United States and we need books like this to challege us as Canadians to see ourselves and our country for what it really is in order to become what we want Canada and Canadians to be.
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