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Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture

Overview

Generation X is Douglas Coupland's acclaimed salute to the generation born in the late 1950s and 1960s--a generation known vaguely up to then as "twentysomething."

Andy, Claire, and Dag, each in their twenties, have quit "pointless jobs done grudgingly to little applause" in their respective hometowns and cut themselves adrift on the California desert. In search of the drastic changes that will lend meaning to their lives, they've mired themselves in the detritus of American ...

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Overview

Generation X is Douglas Coupland's acclaimed salute to the generation born in the late 1950s and 1960s--a generation known vaguely up to then as "twentysomething."

Andy, Claire, and Dag, each in their twenties, have quit "pointless jobs done grudgingly to little applause" in their respective hometowns and cut themselves adrift on the California desert. In search of the drastic changes that will lend meaning to their lives, they've mired themselves in the detritus of American cultural memory. Refugees from history, the three develop an ascetic regime of story-telling, boozing, and working McJobs--"low-pay, low-prestige, low-benefit, no-future jobs in the service industry." They create modern fables of love and death among the cosmetic surgery parlors and cocktail bars of Palm Springs, disturbingly funny tales of nuclear waste, historical overdosing, and mall culture.

A dark snapshot of the trio's highly fortressed inner world quickly emerges--landscapes peopled with dead TV shows, "Elvis moments," and semi-disposable Swedish furniture. And from these landscapes, deeper portraits emerge, those of fanatically independent individuals, pathologically ambivalent about the future and brimming with unsatisfied longings for permanence, for love, and for their own home. Andy, Dag, and Claire are underemployed, overeducated, intensely private, and unpredictable. Like the group they mirror, they have nowhere to assuage their fears, and no culture to replace their anomie.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Newcomer Coupland sheds light on an often overlooked segment of the population: ``Generation X,'' the post-baby boomers who must endure ``legislated nostalgia (to force a body of people to have memories they do not actually own)'' and who indulge in ``knee-jerk irony (the tendency to make flippant ironic comments as a reflexive matter of course . . . ).'' These are just two of the many terse, bitterly on-target observations and cartoons that season the margins of the text. The plot frames a loose Decameron -style collection of ``bedtime stories'' told by three friends, Dag, Andy and Claire, who have fled society for the relative tranquility of Palm Springs. They fantasize about nuclear Armageddon and the mythical but drab Texlahoma, located on an asteroid, where it is forever 1974. The true stories they relate are no less strange: Dag tells a particularly haunting tale about a Japanese businessman whose most prized possession, tragically, is a photo of Marilyn Monroe flashing. These stories, alternatively touching and hilarious, reveal the pain beneath the kitschy veneer of 1940s mementos and taxidermied chickens. (Mar.)
From the Publisher

"A groundbreaking novel."--The Los Angeles Times

"Captures the listlessness that accompanies growing up in today's info-laden culture."--Rolling Stone

"Amusingly explores the more restless and disaffected segment of the under-30 crowd."--Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A readable and valid account of a generation that envisions a completely new genuine genre of bohemianism."--San Francisco Chronicle

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781417706648
  • Publisher: San Val
  • Publication date: 3/28/1991
  • Format: Library Binding

Meet the Author

Douglas Coupland was born on a Canadian Armed Forces Base in Baden-Söllingen, Germany in 1961. He is the author of Miss Wyoming, Generation X, All Families are Psychotic, and Girlfriend in a Coma, among others. He attended the Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design, the Hokkaido College of Art and Design, Instituto Europeo di Design, and the Japan/America Institute of Management Science.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted June 29, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    uninteresting

    Generation X was not at all what I had expected. Looking for a novel that highlights people in their twenties searching for what to do and where to go in their life, this book had disappointed me. The novel did not flow very well. It actually was more a bunch of short stories than an actual novel. It was very easy to put down and forget about because you can easily pick it back up and read a chapter without remembering what happened in the beginning of the book. It seemed too choppy. Normally I enjoy books by Douglas Coupland. I own all of his books. But this one did not get me gripped like the others. The characters were well drawn out, and very easy to envision, and I liked certain chapters, but the overall book had me snoozing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 28, 2007

    An attitude, not a generation

    Coupland's first book, it captures not a particular generation but a way of looking at life. Dag, Claire and Andy's life in the desert provides an alternative to the selfish consumerism rampant in our world today. Some may criticize its lack of cohesiveness, its aimless wanderings from one moment to another, but honestly, aren't most of our lives like that? Coupland's cleverness and creativity, his ability to distill moments makes him one of those rare authors whose books you want to start again right after you finish them. I have read this multiple times and have never failed to find something new. Highly recommended. Æ

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 8, 2002

    Postmodern Cynicism in the form of Conscious Self-Parody

    Coupland knows his generation. He knows it so well, it makes me wince. Like Jane Austen, Coupland maintains the same subject material (ie: what he is surrounded by on a day-to-day basis), but his gift is to see and communicate that material clearly and crisply. Postmodernism in "Generation X" is not so much a philosophical question as it is the world that Coupland's characters are a part of, whether they like it or not. The understanding of this gives poignancy to much of his work--he sees the despair inherent to the system, inherent to living in this time that foolishly claims that God is dead, and he realizes that the attempts his characters make trying to escape from this are all useless--unless a drastic change occurs--one that he finally states in "Life After God": "My secret is that I need God--that I am sick and can no longer make it alone." Salvation from the Valium-like effects of postmodernism (which is just another reflection of this imperfect, unfixable, fallen world, and sin) only comes through Christ. I just pray that quote was Coupland really talking, and not just one of his characters.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 26, 2002

    X Marks the Plot

    Read this book for the cultural definitions contained alongside the prose. The story is not particularly moving, but the side commentary is fun and often insightful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2000

    you know how sometimes a book has little pieces that just capture life so perfectly it almost hurts?

    well, this book is like that. the characters are super cool and interesting but a little bit 'i'm better than you because i am cool without trying and i throw french words into my everyday dialog for the hell of it.' but that's not what it's about. it's about telling truly intriguing stories that are twisted and beautiful and painful and hilarious. it's about giving up everything and starting over. it's cool people in a cool book. ok? get it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 25, 2000

    I Want To Find Douglas Coupland and Give Him a Dollar

    I don't know what it is about this book that is so great exactly, because it doesn't really have a plot and it has a way of going over your head at times. But there's something there that made me feel as if I was part of something bigger and that's what good books should do, right?

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 8, 2000

    Not to bad!

    Im 19 years old and I had to read the book generation x for a class. But the book really caught my attention early on. This book explains alot about my family cause they grew up in this time. Everyone should read it!

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    Posted February 27, 2010

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