Miss Wyoming, A Hilarious Satire of Superstardom


From University Wire (February 12, 2001)

by Sara Porter

ST. LOUIS -- If it's possible for a book to be considered hyperactive, then Douglas Coupland's novel "Miss Wyoming" has achieved it. This novel moves through some many outlandish characters and preposterous situations that the reader needs to catch his breath. But despite the eccentricities, its humor and its biting criticism of society's obsession with fame grew on me. Susan Colgate, the fictitious answer to Valerie Bertinelli and the late Dana Plato, has disappeared. A former Miss Teen USA, the "good cute daughter" on the sitcom "Meet the Blooms," a rock-and-roll wife, and the star of low-budget flicks, Susan survived a plane crash only to turn up missing.

Hollywood producer John Johnson, who disappeared during a mid-life crisis, falls in love with her and seeks to find her. His journey involves such various characters as Susan's overbearing mother, a lesbian numerologist, and a yuppie agent, as he tries to locate her. Susan, meanwhile, is trying to find herself outside of Hollywood. Every character and situation in this book is purposely played to the extreme, stretching the satire into parody. Susan's mother, for example, was so desperate to have her daughter win beauty pageants that she moved the family to Wyoming, "so there would be less competition for the title that in a densely populated state." Most of the characters were so farcical that it was hard to care about them. The only two characters that I had genuine feelings for were Susan and her wanna-be lover, the very-jaded-yet-idealistic, John.

The satire touched on many levels. Everything from child pageants, and psychic friends, to blockbuster movies, and the hard luck stories of a child star's past was brought to hilarious attention. Because of the fast pace, it was hard to tell the setting. Whole chapters were devoted to flashbacks without warning and some of them created confusion, especially when they were in the middle of otherwise exciting scenes. "Miss Wyoming" is excellent reading if you are or are not intrigued by fame. Be prepared to laugh, then catch your breath.