All Families are Psychotic


From Publishers Weekly (July 30, 2001)

The Drummond family at the center of Coupland's new novel resembles a month's worth of soap opera plots. Wade Drummond and his mother, Janet, both have AIDS. Janet, 65, was infected when her ex-husband, Ted, shot Wade through the side of his stomach and the bullet lodged in Janet's lung. Ted shot Wade because his son had accidentally had sex with Ted's second wife, Nickie. In consequence, Nickie is also HIV positive. Wade's brother, Bryan, a frequently suicidal musician, has hooked up with the self-named Shw, a young anarchist. Shw has told Bryan she wants to abort her baby, but secretly she is planning to sell it to Lloyd and Gale, a seemingly normal Florida couple with kinky secrets. Now, all the Drummonds are having a family reunion in Orlando. They are gathered to support Sarah, the successful member of the family, as she is about to be shot into space. Although slightly crippled, being a thalidomide baby, Susan has made a career as a scientist and an astronaut. Her bland husband, Howic, c, is covertly s leeping with Alanna, the wife of Gordon Brunswick, Sarah's mission commander -- and Sarah is secretly having an affair with Gordon. The item that sets this crew in motion is a letter from Prince William left on Princess Diana's coffin. It has somehow come into possession of a sleazeball named Norm, who wants Wade and Ted to convey it to a billionaire Anglophile based in the Bahamas. Complications, naturally, ensue. Like Chuck Palahniuk, Coupland mines tabloid territory for sensationalism, which lie then undermines with ironic self-awareness. The can-you-top-this atmosphere will keep Coupland's Gen-X readers (the ones who religiously watch Cops for the laughs) totally amused. Author tour. (Sept.)