studies in travel writing

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Coupland, Douglas, City of Glass: Douglas Coupland's Vancouver (Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre, 2000).

Douglas Coupland, author of societal pulse-taking novels like Generation X, Microserfs and Shampoo Planet, turns his bemused eye on his hometown's quirks and quarks in this easy-going, photo-heavy tour. Coupland's voice is droll, whether explaining the way the ferries work ("the ferry experience involves waiting; that's because it's government-run") or theorizing on the origins of street names like Biddesden and Pyrford (he conjectures they were named by old English lords having a good laugh over a dram back in London). Having grown up in Vancouver, the author has a wellspring of childhood memories to draw from, and his reminisces add an even more personal note to pieces on well-known destinations like Grouse Mountain and Chinatown.

An artist as well as an author, Coupland has an opinion on just about everything, from Greenpeace (begun in Vancouver) to the number eight (considered lucky by Chinese residents), but he is especially astute at capturing the essence of the city from an architectural perspective. "They made about as much sense in the neighbourhoods into which they were inserted as a UFO in Versailles," he writes of the type of dwelling units he calls "monster houses." And an essay about Lions Gate Bridge, in which Coupland mixes personal recollections with bridge lore, is enough to make even the most jaded Vancouverite see the town in a teary-eyed new light.


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Studies in Travel Writing (journal)
Centre for Travel Writing Studies (Nottingham Trent University)

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