Rachelle's Reviews > Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture

Generation X by Douglas Coupland
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's review
Dec 21, 2011

really liked it
Read in October, 2011

A memorable quote: ‘The bird was circling the field and it seemed to me to belong more to the Ganges or the Nile rather than to America. And its jet-white contrast with the carbonated field was so astounding, so extreme, as to elicit gasps audible to me from most all of my neighbors, even those parked quite down the road.’

Generation X by Douglas Coupland (DC) is a collection of stories told by Andy about himself and his friends Dag and Claire living in 80s west-coast America and going about their everyday lives of working, and relaxing at the weekends etc. The stories are all anecdotal and they basically come together in one narrative exploring what it means to be a new adult in a society that defines happiness in how much you can buy. While the characters discover that money isn’t everything, in the rejection of religion, they’re unsure about how to define fulfillment and where they can find it. Apparently this book popularized terms such as Yuppies or Yuppie Wannabes or Cult of Aloneness defined as ‘the need for autonomy at all costs, usually at the expense of long-term relationships, often brought about by overly high expectation of others’. Dorian Graying is another phrase that sticks in the mind, meaning ‘the unwillingness to gracefully allow one’s body to show signs of aging.’ What’s really cool is that DC offers these terms in the footnotes of some of the pages, sometimes with comic-strip like drawings.

This is a wonderful read because DC tells a familiar story in a fresh and captivating way. He involves the reader emotionally without being sentimental, don’t want to spoil the end but the acceptance of receiving and giving love as a form of fulfillment is emotive and reading the final chapter really, is truly moving in a way you just don’t expect in these kind of existentialist stories. DC also uses strong imagery that stay in the mind long after the book has been forgotten, like that in the quote. It’s a strange power that writers have in being able to leave, to the reader a symbol to communicate their message long after we cease to remember the narrative they used to tell the message! If you like this book you may like Tokyo Cancelled by Rana Dasgupta and vice versa. Henjoy lol.

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