Turn on, tune in, drop out, nod off


From Daily Mail (May 14, 1992)

by Polly Samson

The only time worth living in is the past and the only time that may ever be interesting again is the future.'

Now don't we all know people who utter twit-like aphorisms such as this? And hasn't every age had its own version of what Douglas Coupland terms?????? in this all-American-brat novel.

Generation Xs (together with hippies, punks, biker boys, etc.) are the youthful drop-outs who turn under-achievement into a virtue while despising anyone with oomph, generally dismissing them with the sneering label 'yuppies'.

Coupland's story is of three young Americans who, following their 'mid-20s breakdowns', have gathered in California to while away their lives in 'McJobs' and to tell each other pointlessly superficial little fictions from which they try to extract 'delicate insights'.


Deeply nihilistic, the yawnsome threesome have so long in which to do so little that all sorts of minute details become important.

The correct sort of retrogressive sunglasses to wear, for example, is as vital to them as the precise dimensions of an H-bomb cloud. Added to which, Coupland has his people talk in spaced i-t-a-l-i-c-s for no particular reason, as if they really did have something perspicacious to say.

Admittedly there are one or two genuinely strange moments, such as the suspicion that the pet dogs have been feeding from the rubbish sacks at the liposuction clinic, but sadly the apathy of the protagonists is contagious.

The PR blurb for Generation X screams that it is the book that those born between 1961 and 1971 have been waiting for.

Well, that includes me. No doubt they would call me a yuppie for it, but I just didn't see the point of this remorselessly pretentious book