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A colleague of mine and I discovered that we both liked Douglas Coupland’s writings.  After my admission that I have not yet read his debut – Generation X, he promptly lent me his copy of it.  Thanks, SKA.

This book has been printed many times and that is probably the reason behind the different covers.  I am reading the black and pink cover edition (below).

Below are a few random passages that made me chuckle:

“…Toronto, Canada is a city when I once visited gave me the efficient, ordered feel of the Yellow Pages sprung to life in three dimensions, peppered with trees and veined with cold water.”

I felt that way some times when I visited my folks in Toronto flying from New York.

Describing a dog that edges its face in between two front seats in a car:

“It is a face that grovels politely but insistently for attention.  … The dog meanwhile wears the cheerful, helpful look of a bellboy in a foreign country who doesn’t understand a word you’re saying but who still wants a tip.”

One of the secondary character rages :

“… I don’t want dainty little moments of insight. I want everything and I want it now. I want to be ice-picked on the head by a herd of angry cheerleaders, Claire.  Angry cheerleaders on drugs. You don’t get that, do you ?”

A party in Palm Springs:

“It is a B-list crowd: TV money versus film money; too much attention given to bodies too late in life. Better looking but a bit too flash; the deceiving pseudohealth of sunburned fat people; the facial anonymity found among babies, the elderly and the overly face-lifted.”

The book is also peppered with some cute definitions printed on the margin, here is a sample:

Conspicuous minimalism: A life-style tactic …  The non-ownership of material goods flaunted as a token of moral and intellectual superiority.

McJob: A low-pay, low-prestige, low-dignity, low-benefit, no future job in the service sector.

Poverty jet set: A group of people given to chronic traveling at the expense of long-term job stability or a permanent residence.  Tend to discuss frequent-flyer programs at parties.

Occupational Slumming: Taking a job well beneath one’s skill or education level as a means of retreat from adult responsibilities and/or avoiding possible failure in one’s true occupation.

This last one sums up a lot about the characters in the book.

I don’t know anyone resembling the main characters but they are so solidly plausible. The characters mock the baby-boomers and yuppies, and are anti-globalism.  I can see why this book was and still is so popular.


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