The Gum Thief

Author: Douglas Coupland

Release: October 2, 2007

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Genre: Fiction

ISBN-10: 1596911069
ISBN-13: 978-1596911062

Main Character(s): Roger Thorpe, Bethany Twain

Synopsis: Roger is not where he wants to be, working at Staples well past the age where that would have been noble. Bethany is Roger’s much younger co-worker who discovers that he’s a writer, or at least he’s attempting to be. What follows is a collection of letters and emails written by the characters that move the story along revealing the world as we know it.

Declassified by Agent Palmer: The Gum Thief Wears the Rose-Colored Glasses of Nostalgia Well

Quotes and Lines

A few years ago it dawned on me that everybody past a certain age–regardless of how they look on the outside–pretty much constantly dreams of being able to escape from their lives.

I am not bitter.
And even if I was, at least if you’re bitter you know where you stand.

Children are like small brain-damaged adults with not attention spans and no capacity for conversation.

“Oh, good God, man, get real. Everybody’s a disaster.”

…People armed with shopping carts who know what they want and where they’re going will always cream clueless people standing in the middle of aisles holding vague shopping lists.

He keeps waiting for the moral of his life to appear, but it never does.

I look back on when I was younger, back in the 1990s, and how naive and goofy everything was back then, but it was like this happy bubble, a time snack, a little patch of bliss before the shitstorm.

There’s such a difference between the world I grew up expecting and the one I got, but everyone my age has probably felt the same since the dawn of man. I didn’t expect a world full of jetliners impregnating office towers, or viruses jumping species or, shit, according to Yahoo!, pigs that now glow in the dark. The modern world is devoted to vanishing species, vanishing weather and vanishing capacity for wonder.

According to government statistics, I’m supposed to leave the world in 2062, but I can’t even see 2032 in my head.

Sherwood Anderson – Winesburg, Ohio
Bret Ellis – Less Than Zero
Chuck Palahnuik – Fight Club
J.G. Ballard – Running Wild

“Why do restaurants heat your plate before they put your food on it? There always has to be some asshole with a blow torch in the prep area, scorching the crockery in a warming oven, thus ensuring that when your food arrives in front of you, it will emit too much steam and generate blackheads. Your server will say, ‘Mind the hot plate,’ and then, after waiting ten minutes for the thing to cool down, when you finally do take a bite you burn your tongue or the roof of your mouth. The whole hot food thing is a scam. Humans were meant to eat food no hotter than the temperature of blood.”

The truth is always satisfying.
Why is that?
I don’t know. It’s the way the universe is built.

…you’re so lucky to have an imagination, Roger. You can sit down and make shit up. I can’t even make up my mind.

God only knows how many trillions of memories are stored inside us–memories we’ll never retrieve simply because we don’t have a device that allows us to browse them properly.

Roger, how the hell can you be unlisted? Who do you think you are, the fucking Beatles?

Write me–but I don’t know where I’ll be, so there’s no address to give you. Isn’t that all of life compressed into a sentence?