Elanor Rigby by Douglas Coupland - review by Tristan Quinn

Tristan Quinn

The Speed of the Sound of Loneliness

Elanor Rigby


Fourth Estate 250pp £15.99 order from our bookshop

THIRTY-EIGHT YEARS AND a cultural gulf separate Douglas Coupland's new novel and the Beatles' song of the same title. Back in 1966, Paul McCartney needed to find just the right name to bring to life his portrait of a lonely woman who wears the face she keeps in a jar by the door. 'It had to sound like someone's name, but different enough and [not] just Valerie Higgins, you know,' he told an interviewer. 'It had to be a little more evocative.' How things change. Today, Coupland has branded his book about a lonely woman by dusting off his old Revolver long-player, taking a short cut to his big theme with a boost from a more powerful artefact. From its front cover onwards, this slim novel advertises its concerns.

Coupland's central creation is Liz Dunn, a 42-year-old overweight woman (email address: eleanorrigby@arctic.ca) who works in a cubicle farm called Landover Communication Systems and lives a disappointed life alone in Vancouver. In a narratorial voice that slips between deadpan, folksiness and late night TV show wisecracking, Liz lays bare her

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

The Incomparible Monsignor

Kafka Drawings

Follow Literary Review on Twitter