10-pages-in book review: Eleanor Rigby

by DaniGirl on July 14, 2005 · 10 comments

in 10-pages-in

I’ve just started reading Eleanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland, so here’s my 10-pages-in book review, at about 30 give-or-take pages in.

I should admit a bias up front. I have a sentimental thing for Douglas Coupland, and he could write the instruction manual for my sewing machine and I’d read it three times. And because I have such a fondness for him, I tolerate, in the way we tolerate the idiosyncracies of the ones we love, a certain amount of quirkiness that I might not take from an off-the-shelf new author.

The thing about Coupland is that he writes to a me I sometimes wish I were. He writes to a me that is a little more hip, a little more jaded, a little more cynical. His work appeals to the slacker in me that rolls her eyes at the bright-eyed enthusiast who is usually in control. And yet, the same thing that draws me to his work is what makes me impatient with it. Sometimes it is too laissez-faire, too negative, too bleak.

This book seems a little bit less hipster than some of his other work, but his voice is so incredibly distinctive that I’m sure I could pick his style out anywhere. Ironically, voice is my only complaint with this book. The main character Liz Dunn is, demographically at least, quite a bit like me. She’s a mid-30ish Canadian working girl. She also happens to be friendless, incredibly lonely, and by her own description, quite fat, three things which I am gratefully not. But her voice lacks the insecurity that a lonely, overweight woman of my age would have. In fact, she doesn’t ring true to me at all. Then again, that divergence from what we might expect from stereotypes seems to help keep me interested in what happens to Liz.

It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but isn’t She’s Come Undone by Wally Lamb also about a lonely fat woman? I hated that book. Found it depressing and pointless. Eleanor Rigby, at least, has some potential. Although I am having a hard time connecting with the protagonist, I at least am curious about her and wonder what her story is. It’s enough to keep me hooked.

I need some new suggestions. What have you read lately that you loved? I’ve requested The Kite Runner and Will Ferguson’s Happiness and Yann Martel’s Self from the library, but am queued at 302 for the former and 12 for the latter, so I need some instant gratification with vacation time coming up. Any recommendations?

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{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Suzanne July 14, 2005 at 3:24 pm

The Lovely Bones was pretty good. Also, Middlesex.

2 Running2Ks July 14, 2005 at 3:39 pm

ITA on She’s Come Undone. What an unlikable heroine. The only good thing about that book was the I was sure the author had to be female.

3 mgood July 14, 2005 at 4:22 pm

Hah! We WERE separated at birth. My inner slacker is so kicking my bright eyed enthusiast’s ass lately!
And I have tried to read and like Wally Lamb because everyone else seems to, and one book I only finished because I was stubborn, and She’s Come Undone was not promising sounding either.
I just finished The Way the Crow Flies (to beef up my Meme, you know), and loved it, even though it was depressing and churned my stomach in parts.

4 Jeff July 14, 2005 at 4:30 pm

Hello, I also have a soft spot for Coupland, maybe it’s a patriotic thing, or simply that he’s a smart, accessible writer.
On a side note, you happen to work in communications in the public sector, and I happen to be job-hunting in Ottawa for entry-level communications work.
Believe me, I thought I had tried every avenue of job-hunting, but blogging is a first. If you know of any English-essential positions (rare, I know) and you’re not creeped out by this post (please don’t be, I’m harmless), I would be happy to send you my CV and discuss my qualifications.
Please reply by post and I guess we can go from there.
– Jeff

5 Danigirl July 14, 2005 at 4:51 pm

Isn’t it great the way blog improves life for everybody?
Jeff, I wish I were important enough to be able to help you! Sadly, I’m mostly still a peon. There is a competitive process that I know of that is open to the public, and it is bilingual non-imperative – meaning you will be assessed to see if you are capable of learning French and if so they will fund your training. See http://www.cra-arc.gc.ca/apps/careers/external/english/2005-4238-HQ%20-1712-4238-Notice.html
Beyond that, I can circulate your CV here, but we don’t have too many English essential positions. E-mail me at danigirl (at) canada (dot) com and I’d be happy to do what I can.
Marla, stop it. To steal a line from Highlander, there can be only one.
Suzanne, thanks for the suggestions! Adding them to my library queue.
xo Danigirl

6 Batman July 15, 2005 at 2:14 am

I haven’t read the Self, but I did read Life of Pi by Yann Martel. Excellent read if you haven’t picked it up yet.

7 SilverCreek Mom July 15, 2005 at 3:56 am

And I did NOT like the life of Pi…Funny that’s the type of book one loves or hates. NO ONE is in the middle on that one. I guess I have a sensitive stomach!
Dani
READ Harry Potter…it comes out Saturaday. OH Right you pre ordered like us. LMAO!
I’m going to suggest fluff reading beacuse I need the break from the other stuff.
Anything by Barbra Erskine is good.
Diana Gabaldon Outlander series well the frist few books it get dull after about the 3rd.
The summer tree by Guy Gavriel Kay
That should keep you busy if you haven’t read them all already.
😉

8 Andrea July 15, 2005 at 7:35 pm

I’m not reading any fiction right now–do you like sci fi? Liz Williams is really good, if you haven’t read her before. I’ll see if I can brainstorm a few more.

9 Sheryl July 20, 2005 at 3:16 am

Batman is a friend and told me about your site. I have been reading silently for a couple of months now but I do have some book suggestions for you. I am reading Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum series about a woman bounty hunter. It is sexy and fun and addictive like crack (I’m just guessing about the crack. I also like “The Devil Wears Prada” I forget the author. and Sophie Consella’s Shopaholic Series. Great fluffy summer reading. I also love David Coupland and we saw him at a reading here last year. He is fabulously eccentric in person as well. I loved Hey Nostradamus! It is dark but has some great insights.
Enjoy!

10 Wendy Taylor April 8, 2007 at 2:02 am

Anything by Jim Harrison – Dalva is especially terrific. Loved Middlesex by Eugenides! Have you tried Jonathon Franzen? How about Chris Bohjalian – Midwives, Before You Know Kindness…
And one of my fave female writers of all time, Canadian Carol Shields. Unfortunately, we won’t hear from her again, since her passing a few years ago from cancer. But I’ve read everything she wrote and loved every minute of time spent doing so.
Finally, for great summer reading… Carl Hiassen, Elmore Leonard and Kinky Friedman. You’ll LYAO!
Happy reading.
w

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