Saturday, January 19, 2008

BOOK: Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland

Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland

What's in a Name? challenge: first name

Annie, hostess of the What's in a Name? challenge, was having a contest this month: describe a book you have read with your name as a character in a book. I mentioned Elizabeth, from Pride and Prejudice, and Anne of Green Gables, my middle name. Interestingly, the main character in this book, my book for the first name category, is Liz, also my first name. It seems appropriate that so many circles are happening with a Coupland book, because his books are beautifully synchronous like that.

Coupland writes books full of messages and symbols, and interesting and real characters. Liz Dunn is a lonely woman. She has always been lonely, more lonely than sad. Coupland describes lonely so well and Liz is very articulate. As Liz prepares to have her wisdom teeth out, (like I did three months ago!) the Hale-Bopp comet flies over Earth, and her life changes, when the hospital calls with a message - a mysterious young man has her name inscribed on his Medic Alert Bracelet: In Case of Emergency, call Liz Dunn.

I'm not sure how Coupland does it. This little book about a lonely woman and how her life was changed contains such fantastic elements that if I tried to explain all the events, would make the book sound unusual and strange. But he presents them in a way that seem ordinary. I cheered for Liz and enjoyed the week I spent reading about her life. (I was in the Frankfurt airport two years ago, where a pivotal event occurs.) The usual Coupland popular references are here, the wry comments, the commentary on ordinary life and the fantastic things that people can do in ordinary life are here. Coupland writes solid and never disappoints.

Ooh, I get the cover now!


  1. Did he write her as an expansion on the character in Beatles song, or were her parents supposed to have been fans?

    And are you multi-tasking- do you want to use this for the Canadian challenge as well?

  2. johh - I have another one I'll use for BC I think, East of the End (or the other way around) unless I get really pressed for time.

    The title? Didn't have a huge significance - it was hardly mentioned, but it was her email addresss. But then, I don't know anything about the character in the song, so maybe it was important.

  3. I'm looking forward to reading this this year and I will be my first book by Coupland. I love The Beatles and Eleanor Rigby is possibly my favourite song by them. The character in the song is very lonely which is probably why she used the name as her email address "all the lonely people, where do they all come from, all the lonely people, where do they all belong" etc.

  4. rhinoa - that makes a lot of sense and it sounds familiar. I hope you like Coupland.

  5. I've only read one book by Douglas Coupland and it was soooo good: Girlfriend in a Coma. Have you read that one? Eleanor Rigby's been on my Paperback Swap wish list for eons, now. I'll have to see if I'm getting any closer to acquiring it. Thanks for the review!

  6. bookfool - That's the one I want to read next, or JPod. Last year I read: The Gum Thief, Hey Nostradamus!, All Families are Psychotic, and Gen X. I only didn't like Gen X, and I'm pretty much the Gen X crowd, but I liked the references in it.

  7. I don't know how he does it either. I love him to bits, and this, along with Life After God, are my favourites by him (so far).

    About the title, I read in an interview that it's like Rhinoa said - the song and the book have the theme of loneliness in common, and that's why he picked it.

  8. nymeth - thanks for another title to look for. I can't believe I didn't get the lonliness theme from the title. d'oh!

  9. I had no idea Doug Coupland had a new book out. Thanks for alerting me.

  10. yellojkt - This isn't his newest book. The Gum Thief was just released in the fall. It was good.


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