Tfitoby's Reviews > All Families Are Psychotic

All Families Are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland
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Jan 17, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: funny, lit
Read from May 14 to 15, 2012

I can't get past my love-hate relationship with Douglas Coupland. I haven't read a novel of his that I haven't enjoyed yet the idea of starting a new one fills me with some kind of nameless dread. It's as if I think it's going to be a difficult read (which they never are) or dull (I'm not sure Coupland does dull.) I blame the titles, or the idea of the as yet unread by me Girlfriend in a Coma which I bought approximately ten years ago and still haven't read. One of those things is consistently depriving me of the pleasure of a Douglas Coupland novel.

I really did love this one; a realistic portrait of a dysfunctional family coupled with a farcical plot, in Florida of all places, that is both heart-warming and absurd, extremely funny and thought provoking and made me think of the master of underworld dialogue in a bizarre setting Mr Elmore Leonard.

I couldn't stop reading, the light hearted tone and the slightly surreal turn of events had me flipping pages all day keen to know how Coupland would tie everything together and what would become of this band of merry men as they fight their way through the plot (and Florida.)

He didn't disappoint, the serious undertones and occasional tazering to the head with his human insight don't come across as overtly preachy (definite plus points) and he doesn't deliberately aim to jerk tears either but you still come away feeling lighter yet having thought about life, the universe and everything. In this way he really does capture the common neuroses and foibles in contemporary life (and in this case the interactions in a 21st century family.)

Psychotic they might be but I wish my family were as nice to each other as the Drummonds.
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05/14/2012 page 79
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message 14: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent I went on a Coupland binge a few years ago and this is one of the ones I remember the most about.


Tfitoby Dan wrote: "I went on a Coupland binge a few years ago and this is one of the ones I remember the most about."

It reminded me of what a lot of movies try to be but somehow fail at because it ends up trying to be too warm hearted and good natured about it all.

I have this image in my head of families trying to steal back heirlooms etc in a big budget Hollywood setting with all these quirky character traits on display and no real depth to the movie. Can't think of a single title though.

This is probably the best Coupland I've read but I just love the absurdity and wit of jPod which makes it my favourite.


message 12: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent I didn't like jPod all that much but it was probably because I was expecting it to be more like Microserfs.


Tfitoby I think this is a recurring theme amongst Coupland readers. The expectation that a book is going to be like another of his books. I read jPod first then was disappointed that Microserfs wasn't the same.


message 10: by Dan (new) - rated it 3 stars

Dan Schwent Tfitoby wrote: "I think this is a recurring theme amongst Coupland readers. The expectation that a book is going to be like another of his books. I read jPod first then was disappointed that Microserfs wasn't the ..."

Coupland's books definitely score points for uniqueness. I read Generation X and then went on a months long Coupland binge. I'd say X, Microserfs, and this one were the most memorable for me.


message 9: by Cathy (new) - added it

Cathy DuPont Right up my alley. You had me hooked with your reference to Elmore Leonard who's a favorite of mine. Thanks for the review...always charming to read what you have to say, Tfitoby.


Tfitoby Youre most welcome Cathy. I hope you enjoy it when/if you pick it up.


message 7: by Jackson (new) - added it

Jackson Burnett I share the same sense of hesitancy about Copeland novels you do, but typically enjoy his work very much. Great review, Toby.


Tfitoby Cheers Jackson. I hope you too enjoy this one.


Michael You are right to be wary of Girlfriend in a Coma! That one really messed with me. The end took a dark surreal turn that disturbed the hell outta me. Have some "therapeutic" reading lined up for immediately afterwards....you'll want to reread something light and well-loved to repair the the peculiar mental twist introduced to your brain! Well worth the experience, though, I must say!


Tfitoby Ermm, amazingly your comment hasn't inspired me to rush straight in to it! :D Nearly a year on from this review and I think I've only read two more Coupland's, there's definitely room for spacing him out, savouring the enjoyment. Girlfriend in a Coma can wait til the end I think!


Michael I made the mistake of reading almost all his books in a three month period. When I told him this at the Key West Literary Seminar, he looked a little alarmed and asked "How'd that work out for ya?". I stopped with G in C., declaring I didn't even care if he had more out there!


Tfitoby I just had a brilliant time with Worst Person Ever so get out there and jump back on the horse


Michael Yeah, I JUST ordered that yesterday!!


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