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Souvenir of Canada Paperback – Jun 15 2002
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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
Every Canadian should own this book. Its amusing, thought-provoking and itll 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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Top Customer Reviews
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."
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.
Most recent customer reviews
Unique gift for our Australian friends. Shows some of the eccentricities of our great nation!Published 11 months ago by Jenny
If you are Canadian and have an affinity for Douglas Coupland Part 1 and Part 2 are definitely worth taking a look at. Read morePublished on March 7 2013 by James McWade
Eclectic book with charming and intriguing stories. The title properly prepares you for some fun and serendipity.
That is no small thing. 222's is one of my favorite sections. Read more
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