book Generation X

reviewed by Richard Luck

Published in Issue No. 10 ~ January, 1998

Coupland’s publisher claims “Generation X is a field guide to and for the vast generation born in the late 1950s and the 1960s — a generation that has been erroneously labelled ‘postponed’ and ‘indifferent.’ This is facto-fiction about a wildly accelerating subculture waiting in the corridor.”

And maybe it is.

Me, I think it’s something more.

Generation X is the book that gave this face-less, name-less generation of slackers and techno-geek wannabes their moniker. It is a tale of life on the fringe of life — a life spent waiting for life to happen. Deep explorations of mundane habits and the minuscule innuendoes that consume a great portion of our waking hours are dealt with here, waxing reminiscent on the good ‘ole days when we all feared the dropping of the bomb, or fell victim to the fashion travesties of double-knit disco. Besides dissecting modern-day life more minutely than any writer has heretofore, Coupland lavishes his readers with a veritable cornucopia of post-modern terminologies, like: McJob, Armanism, recreational slumming, and Bradyism.

As a novel it’s pretty thin, both in terms of size and plot. Not much happens within the pages. The main characters, Andy, Dag, and Claire, spend the majority of the book in a state of hyper-reminiscence. But as a statement both for and against an entire generation, this book speaks volumes. Not only does Coupland’s characters bathe fully in the bath that is pop culture, but have squeaky clean good time doing it.

If you’re wondering where the future of modern fiction lies, well, look no further than Generation X. It is the ruler against which all future novels will be measured.

Also by Douglas Coupland:

  • Polaroids from the Dead
  • Life After God

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Richard Luck is the Founder and Technical Director for Pif Magazine.