Hardcover, 336 pages
Published October 8th 2013 by Random House Canada
Worst. Person. Ever. is a deeply unworthy book about a dreadful human being with absolutely no redeeming social value. Raymond Gunt, in the words of the author, “is a living, walking, talking, hot steaming pile of pure id.” He’s a B-unit cameraman who enters an amusing downward failure spiral that takes him from London to Los Angeles and then on to an obscure island in the Pacific where a major American TV network is shooting a Survivor-style reality show. Along the way, Gunt suffers multiple comas and unjust imprisonment, is forced to reenact the “Angry Dance” from the movie Billy Elliot and finds himself at the centre of a nuclear war. We also meet Raymond’s upwardly failing sidekick, Neal, as well as Raymond’s ex-wife, Fiona, herself “an atomic bomb of pain.”
Even though he really puts the “anti” in anti-hero, you may find Raymond Gunt an oddly likeable character.
This darkly comic novel gives you the anti-protagonist, the anti-hero, someone you’ll just love to hate. Raymund Gunt (even his name is awful) does not seem to have any redeeming qualities and he’s the kind of person you’d secretly hire a killer for. He is the worst kind of chauvinist around, he has an inexplicably inflated ego and no one taught him any social mores whatsoever. His sense of entitlement would give Mount Everest a run for its money where size is concerned and just – he is a horrible person.
In Worst. Person. Ever., Coupland takes this character and well, he just has fun with him. The homeless dude Raymund picks up from the street to act his assistant when he goes to the Pacific to shoot a Survivor style TV show (Raymund is a cameraman) cleans up better than he would have ever thought. Where Raymund flaps around like a rabid dog in order to pick up women, his slave/assistant has women flocking to him like he’s the light and they moths. Everything goes wrong for Raymund but in the same circumstances, things go fantastically for his assistant who proves himself more masterful than his boss can ever aspire to be.
Reading Worst. Person. Ever. Was a strange experience – albeit an enjoyable one. Though I liked the way Gunt constantly got his ass served to him on a platter, my brain kept trying to find him sympathetic. I suppose it is because sympathizing with the protagonist (even if he is the worst asshole in the history of Man or actually, I’m sure there are others who will stand with him on that revered platform) is so automatic. Gunt does grow throughout the length of the narrative and one might argue that he becomes somewhat palatable by the end.
The novel is perfect for those who like experimenting with their reading choices and who are not afraid to take chances and try new books with different kinds of characters.