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Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  27,561 ratings  ·  1,177 reviews
Generation X should feel dated--its title is no longer a part of the zeitgeist, and the generation it defined has been irrevocably changed. Gen Xers--the post-boomers born in the 1960s and even the late '50s--are no longer the socially terrified twentysomethings that populate Douglas Coupland's first and finest novel. The economic boom of the late 1990s dragged them out of ...more
Paperback, 184 pages
Published April 23rd 1992 by Abacus (first published 1991)
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Nicolas Sendra I didn't get as a gay novel, I read three times in diferents ages of my life, and now with 38 just get it. The thing about the kiss is secondary I gue…moreI didn't get as a gay novel, I read three times in diferents ages of my life, and now with 38 just get it. The thing about the kiss is secondary I guess , is blend with the story(less)

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Average rating 3.73  · 
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May 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
For years before reading this book I hated it. I hated it so much. I think at least half of my zines have somewhere the line "Fuck you Coupland" at least once in some rant. My hatred of him was immense, seriously. For example if I had been driving my car and I had seen him I would have run him over. Of course like any good hatred I only had superficial reasons for hating him, I had never read his work, I only saw the catchy looking books and saw them as a disgusting marketing device. And of cour ...more
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Last night, I had to ease myself down from an OCD treadmill, after a day spent fending off incessant reminders from the authorities that the world was no longer a safe or a healthy place, and we all had to do our best straight-‘n-narrow bit to stay ahead of the game.

Sound familiar?

Like you, I was trying to stay normal.

So, after the dishes were safely tucked away into their cradles in the dishwasher, and that cantankerously noisy household device had been duly started, drowning out the news, I r
Sep 01, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Does the term "overload" make or break the novel? Lets just say that in its o-so 80's rampantly materialistic take on self-imposed post mid-twenty crisis survivors, the book may want to break itself! This is the equivalent of what "Reality Bites" was to film: zeitgeisty, important, conspicuous.

It is a fun lexicon like novel that reads like The Decameron or the Canterbury Tales in modern day. The protagonists (don't know it but actually) live in an age where nothing is happening and so the storie
Michael Finocchiaro
I think I read this right when it came out. I identified for the most part with the generation he describes but actually was probably about 5 years too young to completely fit. It is interesting to note that the preoccupations we had back then are not all that different then those of the current millennials - but that back then, we did not have social media or iPhones and so the dissemination of our discontent, our angst, and our disillusionment was not as accessible as it is today via Facebook, ...more
Jun 28, 2007 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Young white privilege all dressed up and no where to go

This is the story of a handful of Generation X-ers, defined as people born between 1960 and 1980.

In the book three late-twenty someones - Andy, Claire, and Dag - separately give up their upwardly mobile jobs and move to Palm Springs, California. There they take up residence in modest digs, take low-paying service jobs, and attempt to live more or less minimalist lives.

They entertain themselves by telling stories (made up or real), drinking, snacking, having picnics, and - for the most part - e
Sep 08, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
I give this book five stars even though it really isn't much of a novel, it's mainly just three kids telling stories about how they view the creepy world of consumerism and status. I read this shortly after returning to the States after living a fairly idyllic and isolated life on the Mediterranean for three blissful years. I didn’t really get America when I got back, not at all. This was the first novel that I read that explained why I wasn’t entirely crazy for not being crazy for the American ...more
May 14, 2008 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
What a boring and pretentious book. It's the kind of writing that would have seriously impressed me when I was 14, full of consciously witty soundbites.

What I really don't like about it is the glorified loser culture of the early 90s and nearly 18 years later it hasn't aged well and just seems bloated. The decade that everyone thought was the pinnacle of evolution is now looking as bad as the 80s did ten years ago. To highlight this, Coupland's plot doesn't have much as a 'story' per se, instead
Dec 17, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've been thinking about why I still love this book, when I hate movies like Lost in Translation and Reality Bites. I think it's because the characters are so active; Andy, Dag and Claire don't lie around hotel rooms in their underwear or have "planet[s] of regret" on their shoulders (shut up, Ethan Hawke). They have jobs, they do interesting things, they daydream, and most importantly, they tell each other stories. On the flip side, they haven't aggressively dropped out of the mainstream a la K ...more
Nate D
Sep 22, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: past-favorites
Douglas Coupland is largely sort of awful, but he didn't completely start out that way. There's a certain inspiration to his earliest works, which comes in most concentrated form here. Sure, it's a novel made up almost entirely of the cynical listlessness of all Generation X cliches that followed, but that's the entirely appropriate result of this being the book that defined the cliches. The book, in fact, which coined the term. And there's a little more going on here than just capturing an era: ...more
Probably ironic insofar as it is a programmatic statement for lumpenized antisocial nihilists (not the sort who abide a programme, normally), which means that it is less LANish itself than metaLANish, a scholarly study that seeks to inhabit the ‘mind’ of the LAN and explore the contours thereof. Ultimately defines the group as
the shin jin rui--that’s what the Japanese newspapers call people like those kids in their twenties at the office--new human beings. It’s hard to explain. We have the same
Oct 30, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Credited with terming low-paying/low-status/unsatisfying/dead-end employment as a "McJob" and introducing/popularizing the phrase "Generation X" to the American lexicon, Coupland conveys the lives of three friends as they attempt to escape their collective quarter-life crisis. Using a raw ironic tone that is anything less than subtle, Generation X entwines the exhausted lives of twentysomethings with relevant pop culture references. Choice moments in the novel include Coupland's incorporation of ...more
Paul Bryant
Oct 06, 2007 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
With some things you know exactly what they're going to be like before you experience them and you hope you're proved wrong. I saw "A Mighty Wind" recently and shouldn't have bothered - good film well made and all, but utterly predictable. As was Generation X. DC is a snappy writer, he's Tom Wolfe's kid brother, and this book should have been a collection of smart essays like Kandy Kolored Tangerine Streamlined Baby etc. It doesn't really leave the ground as a story with characters. And also, re ...more
I first read this book when I was twenty and it's always stuck with me, it was one of those rare books that just really spoke to me. This is my second reading of the novel in its entirety, though I do read the last chapter every so often as I find the writing so beautiful. Reading it at the age of thirty I'm impressed, and utterly relieved, that it still holds all its initial charm for me, so much so that I've changed my rating from a four-star to a five-star. ...more
Jul 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I realize this is a polarizing book, even after decades have passed. I'm actually glad I read it well into its "afterlife" or wherever it's floating as a book now. As novels go (focusing on the word novel here) I think it's a triumph of beautiful and sometimes virtuosic prose over plot lines that seem a little arbitrary and sometimes mawkish. "Art lies in concealing art," Ovid wrote, and I hate to admit I found certain aspects of this book too contrived (maybe too many stereotypes of the anti-st ...more
May 01, 2015 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
This started very promising, but soon became bogged down in hollow, absurd stories. Chronologically I belong to this Generation X, and it is true that at one time (mid '80s) my generation seemed "lost", due to the economic crisis, postmodernism and especially the post-1968 syndrome. But apparently eventually all (?) worked out. Moreover, we in the West are now facing very different problems: how to stay afloat in a globalized world, the growing social inequalities, the integration of minorities, ...more
Davie Bennett
Jan 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved it. Short little vignettes from the lives of three twentysomethings trying to define and describe their rapidly changing world and suss out some meaning from their alarmingly empty culture. Containing strong undercurrents of anti-commercialism, fun dialogue, and imaginative storytelling, this book was written in 1991 but feels just as timely today. I was surprised to find myself in these pages, not just in the characters and story, but in some of the tongue-in-cheek marginal definitions as ...more
Mister Cool
Jul 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I lived in Europe the entire second half of the 1980s and became completely detached from American culture. When I returned in the early 90s I felt like an alien, thoroughly incapable of understanding all the changes that had occurred while I was away those many years. Coupland's novel Generation X contained so many interesting observations and fundamental truisms about where American culture was going that it helped me grasp all the weirdness I too had observed since returning.

I remember being
Wiebke (1book1review)
This book was such a surprise. I had wanted to read it forever, but never really knew what it was about. And although it should feel dated it doesn't. The characters and their conversations and attitudes feel still relevant and accurate today. The writing is great as well, the way Coupland creates the characters and atmosphere of each situation is just wonderful. You just get sucked into these people and feel right at home.
Just one more thing - this is not a plot driven book. Nothing much happen
Aug 14, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
A classic!

The story of 3 young people who give up their high tech jobs and move out to the desert in Palm Springs to work in marginal "McJobs" that allow them time for a quality of life that they would not have if chained inside of a cubicle at a large corporation.

Sometimes funny, sometimes painfully wistful--the characters reflect on popular culture, American Family, and love.
Alejandro Saint-Barthélemy
I like the yuppie vocabulary in the footnotes, Tobias' rant, the Japanese story when Rilke is quoted...
I like the insightfulness of it all.

I dislike the 'feeling of filling' (sorry): you can sense that this book was asked to be written by a third party, that maybe it had to have a particular amount of pages, that maybe it was written too fast and didn't have the proper editing (not to mention that it would work much better as a collection of essays than fiction). I think it would be a better boo
If I had read this book when it was published, I'd probably have liked it more. Clearly I don't mean that literally, since I was 7 years old when it was published. I just mean that it was obviously a very zeitegisty book at that time, and a lot of its details seem irrelevant and dated now, and if I'd been the age I am now in the early 1990s, I would have got it and appreciated it rather than getting it but thinking, so what. It was perhaps a stupid place to start with Coupland, but I haven't hea ...more
Benoit Lelièvre
May 22, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Reading Generation X for the first time in 2021 is extremely weird, because it was conceptualized, written and first appreciated in a world that doesn't exist anymore. A world without the chaos machine we call the internet.

In that sense, I thought it had a lot more in common with Jack Kerouac On the Road and other marginal youth novels than it does with anything we know now. Any, Dag and Claire live in history. Therefore, it's difficult to think about them in the way Douglas Coupland meant us to
mark monday
this was a cultural touchstone when it came out, and that's when i should have read it. couldn't even finish this one, the ideas are flat, characterizations non-existent, and the concepts are surprisingly uninterestng. ...more
Rebecca Alcazaze
Found this mildly aggravating for a good few pages. I hope my reading tastes haven’t changed in my cynical old days as ‘Girlfriend in a Coma’ was a top ten favourite in my twenties. I sense I’ll have to be brave and reread it now to make sure I still love it.

Perhaps years of reading Ballard have now tainted my taste in consumerist disillusionment?
Rachel Louise Atkin
I didn't dislike this but don't think it lives up to any of the Gen X works I've already read. Structurally it's all over the place, following Andy and his two friends who are so disaffected by their generational era that they sit around sharing stories with each other. There's not really anything that moves this book forward because it's cut up by all the disconnected 'tales' that they swap so it's absolutely useless to try and get to know the characters during the first half. It picked up as i ...more
Sarah83 sbookshelf
Definitely not my kind of literature
William McCaffrey
Feb 01, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: mid tweny to mid thirty hippsters
Overall I liked the book, but I didn't develop any fondness for the primary charcters. As for these carbon-based complainers, I thought they were pretensious, cynical, and were drowinig in early anomie. Gen X is over flowing with Irony which makes it both enjoyable and gives the impression that the author is trying to hard too write something Hip or Cool.

The early 20's to mid 30's Are the target population. The 3 main characters are directionless and are trying to escape evolving technology and
Colin McKay Miller
Douglas Coupland’s Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture has little conflict until the end of the book. Thing is, I think the author intended it to be that way.

The novel is told in three parts, revolving around three friends, Dag, Claire, and the narrator, Andy. Other characters slip in and out, but the three are the main focus. What do they do? Nothing. They’re Generation X, not baby boomers. They sit around and tell stories—some about themselves, others made-up on the spot—and so bec
Oct 31, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
There's just one thing I like about this book.

See, "pretentious" is a tough word. It's hard to define, and a lot of the time, when you use it to describe something, you actually end up acting pretentious yourself. Therefore, I'm thrilled to find that this book embodies, at least for me, the perfect definition of the word.

Nothing else about the book was any good at all.
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Book Club: Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture 1 5 Oct 06, 2017 11:23PM  

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Douglas Coupland is Canadian, born on a Canadian Air Force base near Baden-Baden, Germany, on December 30, 1961. In 1965 his family moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he continues to live and work. Coupland has studied art and design in Vancouver, Canada, Milan, Italy and Sapporo, Japan. His first novel, Generation X, was published in March of 1991. Since then he has published nine novels and sever ...more

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