Monday, February 20, 2012

Generation X

Generation X
Generation X
Douglas Coupland

So, yeah, this is about a bunch of twentysomethings in the 90s who decide to eschew the mainstream consumer culture and hang out in the desert telling stories. You'd have never had an inkling of that from the title, now would you? Seriously, though, the book is fun, if a bit predictable.

The book itself is square, with wide margins containing little drawings and asides. It was a little distracting to have these drawings taking my attention off the main text.

The writing is cute, in a look-at-me-I'm-so-clever way. Exhibit A, which turns out to be a set up for a rather destructive act of vandalism:
The Saab won't start. It alternates tubercular hacking salvos with confused bunny coughs, giving the impression of a small child blending fits of demonic possession with the coughing up of bits of hamburger.
Okay, I realize that this is making it sound like I didn't like the book. I did. It's pretty short, so the period feel doesn't have a chance to grate, and it manages to stay mostly charming. There are enough little vignettes that most readers would find something that would resonate with them, making them feel part of the club. The characters are likable, and I could imagine hanging out with them, although not everyday. I'd be that friend who drops by once a month, not the one who decides to move in next door.

Want more like this? Try:
  • Chuck Palahniuk, Fight Club. Okay, I haven't actually read this, but I have seen the movie. Based on the movie (liposuction, life sucking consumer culture) and Palahniuk's writing style, I am confident in declaring it's in a related vein. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.
  • Jonathan Lethen, Motherless Brooklyn. This is a modern noir-like mystery novel, but the feeling is similar to Generation X, in a way. There's a bunch of storytelling and interesting characters. The narrator is a young man who grew up as a foster child with Tourette's syndrome who is employed as a detective/limo driver in New York. 
  • J.D. Salinger, The Catcher in the Rye. Yeah, it's a totally different era, but the concern with living an authentic experience, free from "phoniness" is eternal.

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