Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture by Douglas Coupland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Coincidentally, the first novel I read by Coupland also happens to be the first novel he wrote. It follows the lives of Andy, Dag, and Claire. Late 20-ish adults who are living in the desert, doing basically nothing with their lives but telling each other stories. The story is told from Andy's point of view.
This novel sent me through a gamut of emotions. I called it everything from pretentious to decent. It had the ability to depress while entertaining. I found the beginning dreadfully dull to the point that I didn't know if I would continue or not, and I didn't truly get into the book until the introduction of Elvissa and Tobias. After that, the stories they told one another seemed to get better.
At first, I thought the characters were just pathetic. They didn't seem to have any ambition and all they did was tell each other stories. In fact, I will paste what I wrote in my personal journal about this book. I asked Nick (my friend) if he thought this is what our parents do? Do they sit around waxing nostalgic by making up stories about people, stories that correlate to their own miserable life?
The characters in the book are--or should be if they aged--around the age of my own parents. One character in the book said he was 15 in the late seventies. Hell, my mother wasn't 15 until the early 80's, making him technically older than her. Yes, I have very young parents. But I digress.
Then, an even scarier thought came to us. Would we act like them at that age? Would we get fed up with a no-end job and move to the west coast to live in bungalow-style houses and work a dead end job? Would the burden of being adults kill our spirit and make us run for the hills? Would we sit around one day telling apocalyptic stories about the end of the world because maybe, just maybe, we wouldn't mind if the world did just that -- end?
Things did get better for the characters, if better is the right choice of wording, at the end. They all seemed to have a sort of epiphany (with Claire's ability to get over her obsession being my favorite). While this novel didn't just make gape in awe (and I think a lot of that had do with the fact of my age), I do think that Coupland is a talented writer, and I do look forward to reading some of his other works.
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