Wednesday, June 2, 2010

BOOK: Generation A by Douglas Coupland

Generation A by Douglas Coupland, 297 pages

It's the End of the World Challenge

Coupland's first book, Generation X, is so iconic, that phrases from it have become part of our vocabulary, including the title. I liked how he even used the phrase McJobs he made popular, in this, his latest novel. This title, Generation A, comes from a line Kurt Vonnegut used at a graduation commencement.

Generation A is slightly science fiction, slightly dystopian as it takes place in the slight future. Five young people around the world have been stung by bees, who are believed to be extinct. Technology and digitalization play a big role with the a couple of the characters involved in satellite imagery even as they are stung. The word spreads immediately. The stingees are collected by Hazmat suited medical types who want to examine them indepthly. Coupland has the five main characters alternately narrate the novel, reminiscent of his Generation X. I had no problem keeping the characters straight and liked the different perspectives.

Usually when I read other blogger's reviews, and they make comments on the writing, mentioning phrases they liked and I don't usually notice this myself. Except for Coupland. He has phrases that just catch my fancy, generally humourous. Maybe that's it, I notice funny more than beautiful. The one I remember, since I only had the book on 7 day library loan and it is long since returned, was the line that I hope I am remembering correctly - He was heterosexual, but only by the slimmest of margins. The book is full of great Coupland lines, so even when the book didn't grab me completely, the writing kept me amused.

I did particularly like how much deference Coupland gives to the act of reading. Even within all the digital references, reading and the way the brain reacts while reading, is an idealized thing.

also reviewed:
chris at bookarama
jackie at farmlanebooks
yann martel as suggested to Stephen Harper