Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop All Amazon Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Learn More Shop now DIYED Shop now Shop Fire Shop Kindle Oasis Shop now Learn more Shop Men's Shop Women's

Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars49
3.6 out of 5 stars
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

I like Douglas Coupland a lot: his quirky stories show great sympathy for unpromising characters, and he often finds optimism and redemption in the most unlikely places. I particularly enjoyed the way he tried to make sense of tragedy in Hey Nostradamus!, the magic realism of Girlfriend in a Coma and, of course, the pinpoint accuracy of Microserfs. That eye for detail - and the way he conjures up original and apt metaphors - is one of his defining characteristics, I think. So my heart sank when I read in the flashback on p32 of this book that Janet had been shot in the right lung, because on p1 - indeed, in the very first paragraph - she was fingering the bullet scar over her left ribcage. It's just a small point, but it made me wonder whether he was pulling these characters together in a bit of a hurry. Certainly - as others have pointed out - there's a contrived feeling to some of their back-stories; this wouldn't be so noticable though if there was more of a plot to this story. Unfortunately, all they seem to do is drive from one motel to another, in various configurations (at one point, I found I'd forgotten where each of the characters was supposed to be, which is a good sign of incipient lack of interest).

There are still some nice Coupland touches here, such as the description of Daytona Beach as being the town for all "those people who run to the ticket booth first on the morning after a lottery" (p176), and Janet's realization after too much driving through Florida that "this landscape is from an amusement park. I'm on a ride - a ride shaped like an orange VW camper" (p171). But overall, I think the pieces don't really come together to make one of his best works.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 6 August 2015
Absolute zany mayhem! I wondered to start with if it was for me... then revelation after revelation. Jaw drop after jaw drop. Crazy family member after... you get the idea.

I thought MY family was nuts. They just don't measure up to the Drummonds. While their daughter Sarah (a thalidomide baby) prepares for her first space mission, her family all gather in Florida, ostensibly to watch her take-off, but other plots take them in strange and hilarious new directions.

To reveal much about the plot would really be to spoil it. I'm glad I came to this knowing nothing at all about it. I will say that Sarah's brothers - recently-jailed Wade and Brian (and his vowel-less girlfriend Shw), her dad (and trophy wife) and mum - all take on a role in the completely crazy family story.

This just kept piling on the madness, I acutally laughed out loud at some twists and turns. This would make a wonderfully crazy film, with some juicy little character roles.

I liked the structure, though it took a little getting used to. We follow the present timeline and then suddenly are taken back in time to the Drummonds' earlier lives (both the three children's childhood and that of their parents'). A little confusing at first, but it did fall into place.

I really, really recommend this if you like dark humour, lots of craziness, funny family stories and a nice surprise. Enjoy!
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 6 August 2015
Absolute zany mayhem! I wondered to start with if it was for me... then revelation after revelation. Jaw drop after jaw drop. Crazy family member after... you get the idea.

I thought MY family was nuts. They just don't measure up to the Drummonds. While their daughter Sarah (a thalidomide baby) prepares for her first space mission, her family all gather in Florida, ostensibly to watch her take-off, but other plots take them in strange and hilarious new directions.

To reveal much about the plot would really be to spoil it. I'm glad I came to this knowing nothing at all about it. I will say that Sarah's brothers - recently-jailed Wade and Brian (and his vowel-less girlfriend Shw), her dad (and trophy wife) and mum - all take on a role in the completely crazy family story.

This just kept piling on the madness, I acutally laughed out loud at some twists and turns. This would make a wonderfully crazy film, with some juicy little character roles.

I liked the structure, though it took a little getting used to. We follow the present timeline and then suddenly are taken back in time to the Drummonds' earlier lives (both the three children's childhood and that of their parents'). A little confusing at first, but it did fall into place.

I really, really recommend this if you like dark humour, lots of craziness, funny family stories and a nice surprise. Enjoy!
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 27 February 2011
Like many other reviewers I loved Microserfs and Girlfriend in a Coma, both of which pull off the trick of being both stylish and poignant, while saying something interesting about the times and society they depict. Unfortunately "All Families are Psychotic" is a tacky soap opera; a garish Floridian set, inhabited exclusively by stereotypes forced to behave in increasingly unlikely ways as the silly plot unfolds, and furnished by Coupland with some of the worst dialogue ever. Every sketchily-drawn character seems to speak with the same high-camp, aren't-I-clever prolixity, from the main protagonist, 65-year old housewife-with-HIV Janet, to the "European" Big Pharma magnate/criminal Florian (whose assimilation into the Drummond extended family is just one example of the above-mentioned unlikely behaviour). There's also a sort of stunned disjointedness to the short passages of prose which link the set-pieces of the plot together, and to the set-pieces themselves for that matter. The scene in the pink dungeon is a case in point. It's like Coupland couldn't be bothered to explain the events properly to us. And thus my reaction to the whole was a massive yawn.

This would have been a lot better had it actually said something universal about families, but it didn't. Anyway, my paperback copy will be showing up soon in a South London charity shop.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 26 January 2005
I would urge people not to take some of the more scathing reviews here too seriously, this book is funny, warming, surreal, insane, and peppered with Couplands usual acts of miraculous metaphorical incident which have always made him compelling reading and one of the most relevant voices in modern literature. As always he is trying to make sense of the world and life through another of his strangely cooked set pieces enfusing his characters with dry wit and a wonderful sense of unreality that so closely shadows many peoples own experiences whilst often taking them to bizarre new realms. It's this Dali like twist on what he sees around him that make his characters so relevant and help to combat what could be self indulgent musing by giving the voice a character, like Coupland almost understands the complete irrelevance of what he tries to do book after book. Whilst Girlfriend in a Coma still stands as his most wonderfully immersive work so far, do not write this one off as a mere shadow, revel in its insolence, it's almost conspiracy theorist plotline and its wonderful flights of fantasy that bring such joy to characters that deserve to be part of the imaginitive miracle that Coupland concocts. Heartily recommended, especially to those whose own family lives haven't always been sweetness and bliss- that would be most of us wouldn't it?
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 20 March 2006
Absolutely wonderfull.No other author can make you laugh as often as he can make you cry. The simple idealism that this book ends on is beautifull. If only the carrot Coupland often dangles was real enough to bite so we could have more than a teasing glimpse of his world. It kept me distracted at work, I couldn't put it down. By far worth a read, and should this be the first book you read by him order Girlfriend in a coma and Life after God as back up, because trust me you'll want to start it all over again.xx
0Comment|7 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
VINE VOICEon 13 July 2004
I enjoyed the book, but thought the reactions of some of the characters were not convincing. For example, as people become diagnosed as HIV-infected, it's all very friendly & philosophical like catching a cold, whereas in any family, never mind a psychotic one, I think there'd be more emotion.
0Comment|2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 August 2007
Excellent book. Not much can be said about it other than it is a must read, funny, interesting, and believable... well, maybe just funny and interesting.

The completely over-the-top plot would usually put me off a book, but the hillarious situations and genuinely brilliant characters kept me hooked from start to finish.

The relationships in this book although downright bizzare, are also beautiful, and the last few lines between Janet and Sarah give the book the perfect ending.

Since reading this I have read Coupland's first book, Generation X, which was dissapionting in comparison to this, but I still look forward to reading some of his other work such as Girlfriend In A Coma and JPod.
0Comment|One person found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 9 September 2001
By half-way through the book, too much has happened in too few pages for any semblance of credibility to be left, and one is left limping towards the end wondering what can come next. Characters seem to shrug off incidents that would leave most of us breathless for days with an easy insouciance, and then wander into the next wham-bang maelstrom, like refugees from a bad FX-driven film with little storyline, which is how this reads.
Coupland is no stranger to adding fantastical plot-twists to his stories - see "Girlfriend in a Coma" for an example of this - but in other books he has been more restrained than in this one, where he should have followed up one of the numerous dramatic events rather than piling them on indiscriminately.
I think some of Coupland's books are exceptional, but this, like "Miss Wyoming", is not one of them. Maybe middle-age is sitting uncomfortably on Coupland's shoulders - the Gen. X's are all baby-bound, the Net is old hat and he is no longer the messenger bringing us the news from the front line.
I would give this book less than 3 stars if it had been the first book he had written. Read "Generation X", "Microserfs" and "Girlfriend in a Coma", but don't bother with this unless you are a Coupland-lover (like I am) who needs to have the latest on your bookshelf.
0Comment|5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 13 November 2001
Douglas Coupland's wry observations on Generations X and Y normally deliver witty dialogue and smart insights. But in this novel he puts his words into the mouths of the wrong people (particularly Janet)and the story is weak. The book suffers as a result.
Maybe all families are psychotic, but none are like this one. If you're new to Coupland, try some of his other recent novels - Girlfriend in a Coma, Miss Wyoming - and Generation X rather than this sub-standard book.
0Comment|6 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.