I was mildly disappointed when I read this for the first time recently as I was expecting something a little more fast-paced, a little edgier. Perhaps this was because I - erroneously, as it turns out - associated the title with grunge music, a hybrid of punk, indie-rock and heavy metal that reached its peak in the early nineties - right about the time Generation X was first published. In fact, the title refers to a generation slightly older than me and the majority of grunge fans, and there is no mention of Nirvana et al in this, Douglas Coupland's debut novel.
The story itself is a gentle, somewhat uneventful tale of three friends who, having become increasingly disillusioned with the soulless pursuits of the yuppie/baby boom generation, relocate to the Mojave desert, in California. Here, they tell each other stories ("memories of Earth") not merely as a way of passing the time but in an attempt to re-discover their humanity. If the topics of these stories seem lofty and language employed to tell them pretentious, then it's entirely deliberate, Coupland capturing the "overeducated, intensely private and unpredictable" nature of his characters in a touching and wonderfully ironic style.
What intrigued me most about this book, however, was the impressive glossary of terms and slogans found at the foot of the pages. Wryly observed, and for the most part, searingly funny, they reveal as much (if not more) about the generation Coupland is concerned with. And if you recognise yourself in any these descriptions, fear not! You are surely not alone. I for one have been guilty of "Ultra Short Term Nostalgia" and "Musical Hairsplitting" in my time, and have come pretty close to a "Mid-twenties Breakdown" once or twice...
In conclusion, Generation X isn't an overly thrilling read, but it is a lyrical, insightful and romantic book that remains an iconic and culturally significant work of fiction.