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Miss Wyoming


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About the Author

douglas coupland is one of the most far-sighted and observant writers of our time. Inventor of many a catchphrase and memorable descriptive epithet, his books are cults that millions have read. Among his previous books are Generation X and Shampoo Planet.


Since Generation X, Coupland has been read more for his trend-setting insights than his novelistic dexterity. In his sixth novel, however, he loses even that edge by jumping on the already tired beauty-pageant-bashing bandwagon. Susan Colgate's mother, Marilyn, is a viciously competitive stage mom who micromanages Susan into teen stardom as Miss Wyoming. But Susan revolts against maternal pressure by dramatically refusing the Miss USA Teen crown, and independently makes her way to Hollywood, where she enjoys her 15 minutes of fame on an '80s sitcom, Meet the Blooms. Her career sliding downhill after that, she goes to New York for an audition; on the way back to L.A., the plane crashes. Thrown clear of the wreckage, Susan survives unscathed, but she allows the world to think that she is dead. Later, she claims she had amnesia, but in reality, she shacked up with a former beauty pageant judge and had a baby. Now 28, Susan has kept the child secret, but her mother eventually intuits its existence. Susan feels she is washed up at 28, until she meets John Johnson, once a powerful hit-making Hollywood producer, who gave away all his possessions and literally walked away from Hollywood, living like a tramp for six months. Now John is baby-stepping back into the real world, supported by his business partner, Ivan. Meeting Susan, he recognizes her as the face he saw in a fever hallucination just before his walkabout. But on the eve of their second date, Susan disappears, so he, another Colgate fan and the fan's unbelievably smart girlfriend search for Susan and her secret child. Coupland's writing is frustratingly uneven, sometimes deftly jokey, other times hopelessly muddled ("her body was mechanically deboned with relief") and his characters, for all their spiritual crises, are about as introspective as cell phones. The plot twists satisfyingly in several places, but in general, Coupland should leave the star-crossed celeb genre to Judith Krantz. 60,000 first printing; 8-city author tour. (Jan.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

'Picture Joseph Heller and Kurt Vonnegut collaborating on a Tinseltown version of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and you come halfway to grasping Coupland's brand of thoughtful, supremely funny storytelling.''If Kerouac had been a couch potato, this is the kind of book he might have written.' New York Times

Anyone who has read or even heard about Coupland's novels (Generation X, Girlfriend in a Coma) knows that they are firmly entrenched in late 20th-century Americana, paying close attention to the popular culture and how it shapes the people immersed in it. His latest begins with a happy ending: having disowned their respective celebrity careers, fallen starlet Susan Colgate and burnt-out movie producer John Johnson meet at a restaurant and make a love match. Then Coupland rewinds to see how the pair got to that point, detailing Susan's life as a reluctant teen beauty queen and John's reckless, hedonistic lifestyle while steering his characters through a morass of 1990s signposts: near-death experiences, child kidnapping, Internet rumor mongering, and dead celebrity shrines. It would be easy to take pot shots at these people on the fringe, but Coupland portrays them sympathetically, and the chaotic tale is told pretty simply (if not chronologically). A little edge or satire might have made it more interesting, but this is lightweight fun that will find some receptive readers. For larger collections.ÄMarc A. Kloszewski, Indiana Free Lib., PA Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

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