Are you a folder or a crumpler?If you've read JPod, you would have a ready answer to that. And the conversation sparked by that question is vintage Douglas Coupland, the kind of mundane, yet so relevant in a purely pop culture context, observation that made me love Generation X and Microserfs so much.
In JPod, Coupland has once again honed in on the pulse of society as he did so brilliantly in both of those books, and in a sense revisits the denizens of Microserfs, only this time around they are techies toiling away in a computer game company in Vancouver, instead of on the campus of Microsoft.
And JPod is certainly does succeed in capturing the zeitgeist, in its references to mothers with grow-ops, ballroom-dancing fathers, people smuggling, the emergence of China as a global giant, a cartoon turtle based on Jeff Probst, and Ronald MacDonald as a psycho killer. It's fun, it's clever, it's hip. The fact that Douglas Coupland is a character who features quite prominently in the novel, a character who is essentially thought of as an asshole by the protagonist Ethan, gives the story a surreal and very post-modern slant.
But somehow it lacked the heart of either Microserfs or Generation X. Perhaps this was intentional, perhaps this was meant to signify the soullessness of the post tech-bubble reality, but I found myself missing Dag, Andy, and Claire. They were seriously flawed, but they had lots of humanity.
But the crumpler versus folder question? It's a moment in the book which brought me pure joy, the joy that only a Douglas Coupland observation can bring me. It's one of those moments which pinpoint a truism, which may or may not be true, I don't know, but it feels so real.
Here's an excerpt:John Doe asked, "What's a folder or a crumpler?"
"Both are technical terms used by the pulp and paper industry," said Kaitlin.
"Toilet tissue manufacturers divide end users into two categories: people who crumple their paper and people who fold it. Each is fifty percent of the market."
Mark said, "What about you, Bree - crumpler? Folder?"
Bree said, "This is like the black vs. white 'Spy vs. Spy' thing."
"You're changing the subject."
"I'm a folder ... obviously."
"No! I would have had you down as a crumpler."
"Do geeks skew in any particular direction?" I asked.
Kaitlin said, "I suspect they're more likely to be folders."
A quick and highly viral email campaign throughout the building revealed that game builders are eighty percent folders, but the few crumplers took pride in their stance. ...
So, what category do you fall into?