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Q&A with Douglas Coupland about his upcoming Massey Lectures title

Q&Q attempted to speak with Douglas Coupland for our April 16th article about his unorthodox 2010 Massey Lectures title, which will take the form of a novel entitled Player One: What is to Become of Us? Coupland wasn’t able to meet our deadline, but he sent an apologetic e-mail a week later explaining that a new prescription drug had waylaid him. (“Today is the first day where my head feels like my head in a week. Avoid Dexedrine. It is an evil drug, but it did allow me to remember pi to 70 decimal places,” he wrote.)

The following is a transcript of our exchange:

Q&Q: Why did you decide to write the lecture as a novel?

DC: A narrative seemed like the most efficient and accessible way of putting forth a large number of propositions about life in the year 2010.  I’ve never done traditional lectures… I think that would have felt dutiful and homeworky.

Q&Q: What’s the novel about?

DC: It presents a wide array of modes to view the mind, the soul, the body, the future, eternity, technology, and media.

Q&Q: Where and when is it set?

DC: In a B-list Toronto airport hotel’s cocktail lounge in August of 2010.

Q&Q: Will it be a departure in terms of style, in order to accommodate the lecture 

DC: I’ve only ever seen Margaret [Atwood]‘s and Wade [Davis]‘s lectures, so I don’t know for sure.

Q&Q: When you were first asked to give a Massey lecture, what was your reaction?

DC: From what I’ve learned, everybody freaks out when asked. It’s five highly scrutinized hours that are, in some way, a crystallization of your deepest soul. On the other hand, what a great challenge.

Q&Q: Did you say yes right away?

DC: I fudged, but never said no. I said no and yes and no and yes several times for the McLuhan bio for Penguin, but for this one I had some really wonderful, serene discussions with Bernie Lucht and John Fraser, and they got me past the difficulty curve.

Q&Q: Have you been a fan of previous lectures/books in the series?

DC: I’ve only seen the two, both of which I loved.

  • Annie

    Always thrilled to hear about a NEW DOUG BOOK! Thanks for sharing! –Annie/NYC

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Book Pictures

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Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Eva Stachniak poses with a copy of her book, Empress of the Night

Tea and snacks inspired by Eva Stachniak's Empress of the Night

Rimma Burashko with author Eva Stachniak

Eva Stachniak talks to the audience about the best and worst of Catherine the Great's favourites

Eva Stachniak smiles as she signs a copy of Empress of the Night for a fan

Fans wait in line to have their copies of Empress of the Night signed by Eva Stachniak

Fans wait in line to have their copies of Empress of the Night signed by Eva Stachniak

Lesley Strutt, Dean Steadman, Amanda Earl, Alastair Larwill and Frances Boyle

Frances Boyle, Dean Steadman, Lesley Strutt and Alastair Larwill

Amanda Earl

Jewel of the Thames launch

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