Generation X by Douglas Coupland
Countdown to the Lists Issue: This is the first of a series of posts celebrating the ‘lure of lists’ from now until the day the Lists Issue of TNQ is mailed (hopefully, about six weeks from now!). My review of Generation X, book number 11 in my Great Canadian Book Challenge, in three lists:
3 Things I love about Generation X:
1. The vocabulary in the margins.He’s invented words and phrases for feelings I’ve had and things I’ve seen that I probably couldn’t describe in a paragraph. Eg: Clique Maintenance: the need of one generation to see the generation following it as deficient so as to bolster its own collective ego. “Kids today do nothing. They’re so apathetic. We used to go out and protest. All they do is shop and complain.”
I’m not sure which is more annoying: hearing someone say this about my generation, or someone my age saying it about the next, but I’ve experienced both so often, I’ve felt the need for this phrase for a really long time. There are many other examples, and if I made a list, this post would be way too long: I suppose you’ll have to read it and make your own!
2. How deliciously ironic it all is. For days after finishing it, I found myself narrowing my eyes and tilting my head to the left, viewing my life from a similarly appraising and, I must say, highly amusing, distance.
3. The dialogue. These people speak in full paragraphs; they tell each other extremely well composed, inventive stories and anecdotes. For example:
He telephoned: “You’d love it here, Andy. Scotty’s Junction is where atom bomb scientists, mad with grief over their spawn, would come and get sloshed in the Ford saloon cars in which they’d then crash and burn in the ravine; afterward, the little desert animals came and ate them. So tasty. So biblical. I love desert justice.”
“You dink. I’ve been working double shift because of your leaving unannounced.”
I wish I had conversations like these with people I know.
3 Things I Can’t Stand about Generation X
1. The vocabulary in the margins. It’s totally distracting, and reminds me of (full body shudder) high school textbooks.
2. How annoyingly ironic it all is. It makes it really hard to care about these people and their “small lives on the periphery”; what’s worse is that it you feel like a real mark for trying anyway, because you just know that the attempt to invest in the fates of fictional characters is something these characters would come up with a terrifically apt and thus hilarious name for.
3. The dialogue. No one I know talks like this. I suspect no one on planet earth talks like this. And what is up with the seemingly randomly placed italics?
3 Other things Generation X reminds me of:
1. Office Space. If you haven’t seen it, run, don’t walk, to your closest video store and rent it. In fact, I’ll race you there. It’s been way too long since I’ve seen that flick. And if you loved Office Space, then you’ll probably enjoy this Onion article as much as I did, too.
2. Mall Rats. This is also a great movie…unless you’re offended by marijuana use, or frank sex talk, or bathroom humour, in which case I recommend that you forget I mentioned it. But the mall in this movie is exactly what I imagine the shopping malls in Coupland’s Texlahoma are like, and the whole movie is just rife with QFMs.
3. That episode of Saved by The Bell where Jesse takes caffeine pills…okay, just kidding, this terrible show has nothing to do with Generation X...except that I was probably running home to watch it after school when Generation X came out; that is, when the real members of Gen X were busy getting then quitting their soul-sucking corporate gigs. This makes me a member of Gen Y.
All right, so this was probably my first and last list-style review, but that was fun. If you have an idea for a ‘list’ style post for me, please don’t be shy; in the meantime, I urge you to check out listophelia: Amy Jones’ fabulous blog.