Jennifer Spiegel's Reviews > Player One: What Is to Become of Us

Player One by Douglas Coupland
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Dec 13, 2010

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I know what I think, but what does everyone else think? Does Douglas Coupland, author of GENERATION X, write literary or genre fiction? I’m curious about why his name so rarely surfaces among the writer-people I know.

My two cents. Coupland writes literary fiction; it’s character-driven. While genre-fiction is often discussed in terms of being plot-oriented, with characters and everything else serving the plot, I’d suggest that Coupland writes character-oriented fiction. I’d also suggest that the theme may be right there, secondary to character. Coupland likes to ask BIG QUESTIONS, and—at times—I suppose one might think that the theme (the big questions) is, in fact, driving the narrative.

I’m not convinced this is true.

I looked up a couple of reviews of PLAYER ONE. Mostly, critics found the book enjoyable in that Coupland-way—despite the familiar territory. You know what, though? That Coupland-way makes it worth it to me. Like others—I know you’re out there—I encountered GENERATION X in 1991. And, in truth, I’ve read all of his works of fiction. I don’t even know how it happened. It rarely does. There are other writers I adore, emulate, cherish—and I haven’t read all of their stuff.

Apparently, though, I keep coming back for more Coupland. I like his big questions. Though I might not answer them the same way, I’m drawn to his philosophizing. And I like his sensitivity to cultural phenomena. I think I admire that most. I like his hipness, his humor, his keen eye. I’m okay with some of the weaknesses other people talk about because I enjoy his perspective. I’m even fine with his apocalyptic tendencies because, well, he’s genuinely concerned. Back in the day, he pegged a generation. Really! And, later, he revealed an acute awareness of more societal changes with MICROSERFS. While not all of his efforts have been stunning, I’ve always been absorbed. I’ve always been seduced by his fast-paced, sharp wit. I like how he draws from my own pop culture reservoir. I admit it. I like his eye, the things he notices.

PLAYER ONE is more of that. There are characters. They are well-rounded. They’re a little preoccupied with the BIG QUESTIONS. But is that so wrong?

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Comments (showing 1-5 of 5) (5 new)

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message 1: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Coupland's Gen-X is one of those that's on the list of ones I mean to read. Because somehow I missed him. And like Slacker and other books/movies from the era, I kind of want to check him out. I really was impressed with Slacker when I finally watched it. Maybe I would've like Dazed and Confused more if I had seen Slacker first. We'll never know...

Jennifer Spiegel I really do love GEN X!

message 3: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Seriously, it's on my list and I liked your interview with Coupland you did for Harper's Ferry. Very cool and insightful.

Jennifer Spiegel Thanks, Barbara. That was fun for me. My husband just listened to the tapes of the interview, and said I sounded really nervous!

message 5: by Barbara (new)

Barbara I'd be way nervous interviewing one of my literary heroes.

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