Miss Wyoming

I find the books of the American writer Douglas Coupland always a pleasure to read. They’re fast and amusing, and full of satire.

Coupland became of course famous with ‘Generation X’ (1991), a humouristic sociological novel about yuppies in their twenties and thirties, who are lazy and without ideals. Other books of Coupland include ‘Microserfs’, ‘Shampoo Planet’, ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’ and ‘Polaroids from the Dead’.

‘Miss Wyoming’ was published in 2000, with the film industry around Beverly Hills as its setting. Of course a grateful subject to write a satiric novel about. The story tells about film producer John Johnson, who falls in love with Susan Colgate, a former teen beauty queen (Miss Wyoming) and former actress in a popular 80’s sitcom. Although they seem to differ a lot, they have one unique thing in common: both have disappeared mysteriously for a long time in their life. John, who indulged in everything addicting, suddenly had enough of his luxurious life, sold all his stuff and began to wander. Susan was the sole survivor in a plane crash, but everyone thought she perished too, which she found convenient. After their return in the living world, they have an encounter at Sunset Boulevard. John knows one thing: Susan is the woman he has been dreaming about, and he desperately wants to have her.

The story is not told chronologically, but constantly shifts ingeniously to other persons and places, and is full of flash-backs. Like I read somewhere, it is like watching a TV series in which the episodes have been shuffled. Actually the main plot is more a framework in which various storylines are held together. You learn for example about the tyrannic mother of Susan, who forces her as a child to compete in beauty contests, and who still haunts her. Of course you also read what happened to the two main characters during their absence from public life and how they returned. And the book ends with the search of John for Susan, helped by various unlikely characters, which resembless a detective…

Perhaps not a very profound novel, but certainly very enjoyable. You get to laugh a little at the lifestyles of the rich and famous, the book is habitated by strange characters and there happens more than enough enough (often absurd or unlikely things) to keep you captivated.

By the way, I bough this book for a pound in a Scottish charity shop. Originally it was given to one ‘Sazzah dear’, with the following inscription:
“We haven’t read this ourselves, so if it’s good can we borrow if after you!!
Hope you enjoy the book, and your new flat (you’re now a lady of property, wow) and the new hairdo (cause it rhymes) etc. etc. Love you loads…”