Worst. Person. Ever., Douglas Coupland’s new novel, is engaging, funny and a rocking good read. As the title implies, the main character, Raymond Gunt, is not a nice person. The book is written in the first person, in what is known as the “unreliable narrator” style. Ray Gunt is a highly unreliable narrator.
Ray’s ex-wife hires him as a cameraman to film a sequence of reality television in the South Pacific. On an odyssey that takes him from London to a small Pacific island nation, Ray manages to insult, denigrate and otherwise abuse absolutely everyone he encounters, beginning with airport security and ending with the grossly overweight man seated next to him on the plane, to whom he says, “by the looks of you, you’d best hope they have all of Noah’s Ark on the menu.” He keeps it up and so completely enrages the obese man that the poor guy has a heart attack and dies on board the plane. Ray expresses no remorse.
Not surprisingly, Ray often pays a price for his bad behavior, but the reader roots for him nonetheless, maybe partly because many of these encounters are laugh-out-loud funny. Equally enjoyable is the character of Neal, a homeless man whom Ray meets (read: insults) on the street in London and later recruits as his assistant/slave for the trip, and who provides an excellent foil for Ray’s stunts.
In addition to the humor, which is plentiful and uproarious (albeit colorfully expressed and, as in the example above, not always PC), the book is successful because of Ray’s me-first attitude and his willingness to express any nasty thought that comes to mind—things that the rest of us would like to say, were we a little less civilized. Readers will identify with Ray Gunt in spite of themselves, taking pleasure in his crazy antics.