MISS WYOMING by Douglas Coupland


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Coupland’s fifth novel modishly matures the generation he christened (Generation X, 1991) via a lonely pair of thirtyish Hollywood burnouts in search of meaning. Devotees will recognize the characteristic blend of hip cultural references, ambient low-grade humor, and an unravishing love tale involving dead-enders living in hope of hope. The romance is a fragmented affair that resolves itself in this concluding, nullifying phrase: —Whatever came to them next would mercifully erase the creatures they—d already become as they crawled along the plastic radiant way.— What leads up to that F. Scott Fitzgerald envoi is the story of John Johnson, a maker of mega-selling trash flicks for teens, who falls ill, has a vision, and leaves Hollywood behind for the joys of dumpster diving in the Southwest; and Susan Colgate, a veteran of kiddie beauty pageants whose generous half-hour of sitcom fame has ended, and whose airliner takes a nosedive into a field in the Midwest, leaving her miraculously unharmed. The two meet in a restaurant, take a walk down Sunset in the afternoon, and are mutually enchanted. Despite their efforts to meet again, flashbacks, flashforwards, and sitcom misfortunes intervene. Susie’s mom Marilyn, broke, deprived of an airline settlement, and abandoned by her resentful daughter, kidnaps Susie’s infant Eugene—a child conceived and born during her anonymous —lost year— immediately after the plane crash—and John, with the help of young lovers Ryan and Vanessa, begins his search for Susie. They all end up in Wyoming, mother and daughter reconciled, mother and infant reunited, and Susie and John heading out for the plastic radiant way. Coupland’s frenetic, free-associative sensibility is no match for frenetic, free-associative Hollywood; he tells us nothing about our movie capital we haven't heard before. (First printing of 60,000; author tour)

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-375-40734-0
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Pantheon
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 1999


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