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Despite Easter 'Truce,' Standoff In Ukraine Appears Steadfast

Apr 19, 2014 (All Things Considered) — In the Ukrainian city of Donetsk, the opposing camps seem increasingly entrenched, despite a diplomatic effort to ease tensions. Pro-Russian forces refuse to leave occupied buildings and public squares in the east. It's an uneasy Easter weekend and neither side is willing to budge.

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detail from cover of worst person ever (Courtesy of Penguin)

Writing The Wicked Ways Of The 'Worst. Person. Ever.'

Apr 19, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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Douglas Coupland's other books include Generation X, Player One and The Gum Thief.

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Douglas Coupland's latest book, Worst. Person. Ever., is a profane, shocking novel that centers around an awful guy named Raymond Gunt.

"Imagine there's this really bitter English guy who has Tourettes and swore all the time, except he doesn't have Tourettes, he just swears a lot. Like, a lot — to the point where it almost becomes like performance art," Coupland tells NPR's Arun Rath.

Raymond is struggling to pay off debt that he's acquired making bad decisions in his miserable life, and he ends up taking a job as a cameraman for a Survivor-style reality show.

This requires moving to an island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Halfway through the book, he still hasn't made it to the island. But, he has had two life-threatening encounters with tree nuts and two stints in jail. And that's only the beginning of the havoc-filled journey.

"Of all the characters I've done, he's the one that I don't know where he come from," Coupland says.

Raymond Gunt is truly a despicable character, with no redeeming qualities. But he doesn't take any responsibility for that.

"The essence of comedy is the difference between how you see yourself and how the rest of the world sees you," says Coupland. "And he, of course, thinks of himself as Jason Bourne, except he doesn't have a chin."


Interview Highlights

On creating a terrible character, as a non-terrible person

Is Angela Lansbury an axe murderer? The thing about characters and this is weird — I mean I've been doing this for 14 books now — is your start writing a book, and then about a quarter of the way in, usually the characters basically write the book itself and you're just sitting there channeling it.

In the case of Raymond ... "Oh my God, I can't believe he just did that. Wait, technically I just did that. Didn't I? What's going on here?" Of all the characters I've done he's the one that I don't know where he come from.

On the goals of the book

Every book I do is different from the ones that proceeded it. They're always an experiment. Everything new should offer some chance to change the reader in some way. And with this book, I kinda want you to feel like what would it be like to be hit from fire hoses from seven different directions at full blast. And then, they turn off and you're sort of standing there, like, tingly and little, cartoon stars sort of flying around the top of your head.

One of the reasons I wrote the book is just because things have been sort of grim in a lot of ways and there's sort of this epidemic of earnestness. Why not just go against that trend and write something that, you know, might actually damage a person's soul if they read it.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
detail from cover of worst person ever (Courtesy of Penguin)

Russia's Military: Threatening Enough To Avoid Using Force?

Apr 19, 2014 (All Things Considered) — Russia is in the middle of a planned upgrade and expansion of its military forces, but global affairs professor Mark Galeotti tells NPR's Arun Rath that Russia's military has its limits.

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Douglas Coupland's other books include Generation X, Player One and The Gum Thief.

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Copyright(c) 2014, NPR
detail from cover of worst person ever (Courtesy of Penguin)

The Players In The Battle For India's Soul

Apr 19, 2014 (All Things Considered) — The numbers from India's election are staggering: 814 million potential voters, nine stages of voting over six weeks. They are the biggest in the world. Correspondent Julie McCarthy talks with NPR's Arun Rath about the candidates vying for power.

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Douglas Coupland's other books include Generation X, Player One and The Gum Thief.

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East LA Vacant Lot Community Forum organized by Transforming Inner-City Lots (TILL) (LA Open Acres)

From Empty Lots To Hospitals, New Purposes For Standard Spaces

Apr 19, 2014 (All Things Considered)

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East LA Vacant Lot Community Forum organized by Transforming Inner-City Lost Lots (TILL)

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The online magazine Ozy covers people, places and trends on the horizon. Co-founder Carlos Watson joins All Things Considered regularly to tell us about the site's latest discoveries.

This week, Watson tells about a fake hospital that's testing out high- and low-tech gadgets for real medical discoveries. They also discuss a Los Angeles project seeking to transform vacant lots into parks.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Missing some content? Check the source: NPR
Copyright(c) 2014, NPR

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