15 Minutes With Fame

It’s hard not to be sucked into the visual vortex that is Douglas Coupland’s home, a 1960s post-and-beam haven in bucolic West Vancouver partly camouflaged by creepers and firs. Everything (with apologies) is everywhere; anything is anywhere. Yes, that’s a signed photograph of Andy Warhol propped up against a parade of polyhedrons. (Certain shapes-from stacks of Lego and military paraphernalia to meteorites and discarded buoys-stimulate him.) Yes, that’s a couple of expansive presentation cases filled with model Soviet and U.S. missiles from the Cold War. Yes, that’s the bento-box-lacquered escritoire, the “altar” where he types his fiction on two fingers…


The interviews for London’s Telegraph and Monocle 24 took months to arrange, details of commissions fastidiously passed on, but I still know when I arrive at the door that I’m only one on a conveyor belt of journalists, photographers, other writers calling. Once clued in to my request, however, his finely tuned media antennae have him delivering a fusillade of delicious bons mots.
His synapses firing at whiplash speed, he toys around my topics and plenty of unrelated others, too. Rummaging in his paintbrush jar, he spontaneously starts painting in his nearby studio-he’s more than happy to play out his reputation for coruscating creativity. The next moment he’s ordering me to duck out of sight so his beloved Steller’s jays can be spied dive-bombing outside his kitchen windows, then throwing a couple of nuts-from an incongruously hippie stoneware bowl-out his back door for the resident (one-armed, of course) squirrel. It’s an all-together strange encounter, yet no more so than delving into one of his novels. Then my time is up. He needs his space back-a space that’s shared with his hundreds of possessions and the “happy hits” he, and undoubtedly everyone who visits, has from looking at them.


“The pigpen inside is a direct metaphor for my brain.” “Art is a combination of family plus trauma plus mode of expression.” “I want that on my tombstone: ‘He wasn’t patient but he was disciplined.’ “


Lucy Hyslop is a Vancouver-based freelance writer and editor, formerly the chief sub-editor for the Telegraph’s Saturday magazine and chief features editor of the Vancouver Sun


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