x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

The survival of the vilest

An exceptionally detestable videographer goes to a remote island to work on a reality TV show in Douglas Coupland's Worst. Person. Ever.

Worst Person Ever (D Coupland)
Worst Person Ever (D Coupland)

The person in question is the potty-mouthed Raymond Gunt, “accomplished videographer and connoisseur of womanly charm” and “a living, walking, talking, hot steaming pile of pure id”, who is sent by his ex-wife, “an atomic bomb of pain”, to an obscure tropical island in the South Pacific called Kiribati to work on an American reality TV show called Survival, along with his homeless Man Friday and a cast of equally loathsome characters.

His misadventures, interspersed with witty Wiki-style entries, provide the framework for Douglas Coupland’s familiar preoccupations with nuclear war, celebrity culture, the damaged ecosystem, dysfunctional families and our post-internet brains. Which makes for an amusing enough sendup of modern life, but for the sharpness of this satire, Coupland forgoes the sentimentality that gives his other novels their wistful depth. As a vile character study, Worst. Person. Ever. is a mission accomplished, and one that gives you no qualms about being voted off the island.

mgannon@thenational.ae