Souvenir of Canada 2
Reviewed: August 6, 2004
By: Douglas Coupland
Publisher: Douglas & McIntyre
144 pages, $29.95
Souvenir of Canada 2 is, obviously, Douglas
Coupland's follow-up to his 2002 book of almost the same name.
Like its older brother, this book is part autobiography, part
philosophical reflection and part musing about the state of
And then there are the pictures. Coupland has assembled
another strange collection of things which seem to him
particularly Canadian. It says a lot for our collective state
of mind that photos of cupboards stocked with bilingual cans
and boxes, pictures of Robertson screws and screwdrivers, and
clippings of thermal underwear ads from the Eaton's catalogue
are part of our national identity now.
The oddest section of the book is the thirty page section
called Canada House, which is a record of a sort of
performance sculpture or installation which Coupland assembled
in a Vancouver bungalow that was about to be demolished. It's
a very weird assemblage of stylized furniture, pictures and
wall hangings, all set against a white background and filled
with wandering goose decoys.
The nicest section is probably the spread on Terry Fox, who
is, as Coupland notes, one subject we pretty much all agree
on. Apparently putting that together has actually inspired him
to do a book about Terry, which will appear in the near
In the promotion for this book the publisher takes a swipe at
some of Pierre Berton's picture books from the 1970s,
apparently not realizing that those were an appropriate look
at Canada as we saw it then, dominated by its geographical
landscape, just as Coupland's two picture books seem to be
dominated by our interior landscapes.
They are just different ways of looking at the same thing.
Both fit on my bookshelf.