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Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture [Paperback]

Douglas Coupland
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
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Book Description

7 Nov 1996

Andy, Dag and Claire have been handed a society beyond their means. Twentysomethings, brought up with divorce, Watergate and Three Mile Island, and scarred by the 80s fallout of yuppies, recession, crack and Ronald Reagan, they represent the new generation- Generation X.

Fiercely suspicious of being lumped together as an advertiser's target market, they have quit dreary careers and cut themselves adrift in the California desert. Unsure of their futures, they immerse themselves in a regime of heavy drinking and working in no future McJobs in the service industry.

Underemployed, overeducated and intensely private and unpredicatable, they have nowhere to direct their anger, no one to assuage their fears, and no culture to replace their anomie. So they tell stories: disturbingly funny tales that reveal their barricaded inner world. A world populated with dead TV shows, 'Elvis moments' and semi-disposible Swedish furniture.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (7 Nov 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349108390
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349108391
  • Product Dimensions: 12.3 x 19.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 33,698 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A new age J.D Sallinger on smart drugs. (TIME OUT **)

Dizzying sparkle and originality. (THE TIMES, **)

Quirky, witty, with an affection for its characters which lifts it above the level of such as Bret Easton Ellis's 'Less than Zero. (MAIL ON SUNDAY **)

A Landmark book. (DAILY TELEGRAPH **)

Book Description

Andy, Dag and Claire represent the new generation - Generation X.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
Back in the late 1970s, when I was fifteen years old, I spent every penny I then had in the bank to fly across the continent in a 747 jet to Brandon, Manitoba, deep in the Canadian prairies, to witness a total eclipse of the sun. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If at first... 24 April 2005
I have read all of Douglas Coupland's fiction and think he is an immensely thought-provoking and inspiring author. "Generation X" was the first of his novels I read and I have to admit at that time I didn't really get into the book or enjoy it much. However, I then read "Life After God" and loved it. It was only after reading several of his other novels that I decided to have another go at "Genereation X". What a revelation! I have to say that I don't understand why I didn't enjoy it the first time. It is an amazing book. The narrative is full of inciteful observations about friendship and finding meaning within modern Western society. It is a book I have now read several times and it never ceases to amaze and amuse me.
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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gets me every time 24 Nov 2002
I can't remember how many times I've read Generation X now. Not an obsessive amount, but every so often I need to re-read it as a kind of "touching base." On Saturday, as I packed to spend the weekend at my parents' house, where I grew up, I felt the need for something familiar, easy to read and touching, that would leave me comforted yet introspective.
But this is just my relationship with the book. The main narrative concerns three late-twenty-somethings living in a southern California resort town, somewhere anonymous in the desert. All are working in no-responsibility jobs, none have any idea what to do with their lives. Having grown up with the Cold War they're always expecting an apocalyptic end to their world of sun-baked desert and faceless industrial shopping malls.
Their conversations and rented bungalows are scattered with references to previous post-war decades in which everything seemed more certain and whose pop-culture seems like an escape from that of today. As the years pass since the book's publication it's becoming apparent that the world in which its set is just another past decade whose sayings and culture are ripe for ironic vultures. But every time I read it I find something that's relevant to my world (if "Legislated Nostalgia: To force a body of people to have memories they do not actually possess" doesn't hit I Love the 19x0s where it hurts, I don't know what does).
If you can, forget the whole Gen X thing that floated around back in the nineties, which is far too much baggage for this little story to carry. Well, "stories" would be more appropriate. There's little plot here, but the characters spend much of their time telling each other romantic and doom-filled (and impossibly eloquent) tales; thankfully this is Coupland's forte.
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20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Smug and overly pleased with itself 2 Mar 2009
Okay, let's be clear. I'm the exact demographic for this novel. And I recognised pretty much all the references it makes. And I like witty cynicism. Hell, I've even been to Palm Springs. So it isn't as if I "didn't get it" or that it somehow "went over my head".

I can live with the fact that there's no plot, no character develops or changes, or that there is no pace or drive to the narrative. The problem with this book is that, like Coupland's other efforts, it is less than the sum of its parts.

The cynical, I-always-see-through-marketing-hype style grates very early on. All three of the characters basically sound the same, act the same, and think the same. There is no spark or conflict between them - they all agree on pretty much everything. The smug "I'm cool because I'm deliberately a slacker" attitude is morally and ethically empty - it's a dismal anti-choice that teaches the reader nothing about anything.

Bits I enjoyed? The small definitions at the bottom weren't bad, in the same way they would (and really should) have been if they'd appeared as minor asides in a daily newspaper. Some of them seemed forced and shoehorned into an arch definition. And occasionally, when Coupland trusted himself not to play a smarmy, wisecracking slacker, the description can work well.

Overall, I wonder if there's simply something about books that claim to `define the zeitgeist', or `capture the mood of a generation'. This didn't. It didn't get close - just ramming product names into the narrative and then saying how stupid they are, doesn't say anything of any consequence at all. But then, I hated Catcher in the Rye as well, and everyone tells me I'm a philistine to hold such a view. This book didn't speak to me of my place, time, life, attitudes or habits. It was just three annoying people in the desert, feeling inordinately pleased with themselves for no particular reason.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow 5 Jan 2006
Generation X has become something of an 'our song' between myself and my friends. Deeply moving and subtly bitter, without ever being in any way 'normal', it is the lives of three highly intelligent people who have effectively dropped out from society.
Their backgrounds aren't always clear, and there are moments of very modern identification - Dag declares himself 'a lesbian in a man's body', while Andy is pained by his younger brother's apparently infallible capitalist happiness. It's a strange and broken novel, and there is no clear ending, but it's also a beautiful novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 90s postmodernism 1 Jun 2005
By A Customer
I enjoyed this book, it is a light read, and all the more compelling because essentially nothing happens. Despite their eccentric personalities and life-choices, the characters are believable for this reason in so far as they are the mouthpiece of alienation and the lack of a coherent world-view.
Despite the other review, this book *is* an attempt at characterising post-modenity, and explicitly so. More specifically it is a very 90s trendy post modernism and its characters belong to the nineties world. This is a good thing in itself, but already makes the book somewhat nostalgic for me only nine years later, and will date its relevance considerably in the long term.
Especial pleasure came for me when nearing the end, I realised (without giving anything away) that the three central characters with their McJobs (a nod to Ritzer I think), complaining to one another and terminal lack of ambition are despite everything....happy. At least so long as they have the company of other like minded people to tell their bedtime stories to.
Incidentally the footnote definition of 'bambification' kept me laughing all day.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars not sure what all the fuss is about
I would agree with the reviewer that says this book is hideously dated (at least style wise, anyway). Read more
Published 8 months ago by Mr. N. J. Milton
4.0 out of 5 stars Great book ...
Highly recommended. Coupland I don't think has ever matched 'Generation X', but we can't hold that against him. A tough act to follow. Read more
Published 12 months ago by J. Craven
5.0 out of 5 stars Gen X
Superb book, but mainly writing this so I don't get any more emails recommending it me. I've read it roughly 15 times ffs.
Published 14 months ago by Mark
4.0 out of 5 stars Stylistic
Whilst this is not my favorite of his book (I would probs rank it about 4th or 5th) I would still recommend it. Read more
Published 15 months ago by claire mason
4.0 out of 5 stars The book of the IT age
This is one of the key books of the1990's in which he gets characters to act and tell stories about their life and so reveal their attitudes. Read more
Published 16 months ago by Rf And Tm Walters
5.0 out of 5 stars the first major work of a important and thought provoking voice.
Back in 1989 a little known Canadian writer called Douglas Coupland (pronounced Copeland), took off for the Californian desert city of Palm Springs to write a handbook for the post... Read more
Published 18 months ago by wittywriter
2.0 out of 5 stars A Flourish of Style With Little Substance
Come up with a catchy title, Generation X, and chose a topic that gives a sense of significance, alienation, or to paraphrase the beatnik edict turn on, tune in and drop out; and... Read more
Published 22 months ago by Herman Norford
3.0 out of 5 stars Jaded? you will be
Thought I'd reviewed this but cd find no trace. It's undoubtedly clever, and cheerfully heartless, though its satirical edge strokes rather than grazes - I suppose its shallow good... Read more
Published on 17 Jan 2012 by Simon Barrett
3.0 out of 5 stars "Less is a possibility"
What's good about Generation X?:
It has some great neologisms; it only slightly overstays its welcome; it is warm, forgiving, accepting of its protagonists; it is often funny,... Read more
Published on 29 Nov 2010 by Eileen Shaw
5.0 out of 5 stars More relevant as time goes by
This book is completely unconventional and short, it has very very little plot and very very little actual character development with many of the players just 2d cut outs. Read more
Published on 4 Jun 2010 by Paul M
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