Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture

Words or phrases in italics below are from Douglas Coupland’s neologisms in his critically acclaimed novel, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture.

Douglas Coupland’s Generation X is a must-read for every mid-twenties to mid-thirties who are sick of his own veal-fattening pen, for every inconsolably lonely yuppie going through existential isolation, for those who are chronically depressed due to the lack of meaningful social interaction, for those with undirected angst against lifestyles fuelled by the incessant desire to collect items blinded by the flagrant consumerist society, for the young drifters who give out the puppy look at random strangers in the streets and convenience stores in the hopes of being rescued, for every ex-yuppie who will give up or had actually given up his high paying job in a high-rise building for a McJob, for the adults in a tangled web of emotional crises in an accelerated oftentimes troubled culture who would look at their childhood family picture only to have those but-we-were-once-so-innocent-then moments.

Flashback to a couple of months ago, dejected over grad school uncertainty, I picked up this book which belonged to my roommate then and scanned the pages. I started reading the story about alcoholics in some group psychotherapy confessing the most messed up thing they ever did in their life while in the influence of booze. I downed the whole chapter feeding the lousy state I was in and not long after rejoiced at the realization that I wasn’t as thoroughly botched up as the characters in the story. Then I found myself laughing alone in my room immensely enjoying the chapters of the book very much entertained at how Andy and Dag sounded gay when they speak and suggesting that the talented author of the wonderful novel may be lovably, fabulously gay.

I was taken by the novel and could identify with the characters. Just to imagine alternate universes, I toyed with the idea of quitting my corporate job to get a McJob instead. I was resigned that while the characters in the story can just as easily afford to have their own apartment and car even with McJobs, it is impossible to attain the same level of material comfort in my generation with only a McJob.

I loved the chapter about the space man and the three sisters, the tragedy (or success) of the lone (and lost) heiress, Christmas at Andy’s home and of course the chapter about remembering earth clearly which inspired me to share my single best memory of earth that I’ll take away with me. While I don’t necessarily agree to all points expressed in the novel (whenever I found myself being overly analytical instead of just enjoying the ride), I liked the neologisms and originality and the subtle (or glaring) truth behind the statements.

Surprisingly, however satirical and sometimes depressing the stories were, the novel as a whole didn’t demoralize me any further. The absurdity of life in general in whatever age or stage you are somehow comforted me. It provided me with just the right distraction, if not blessed me with just the right kind of dysfunctional characters for company–as if in a group psychotherapy confession–effectively freeing me from the need for certainty and assurance in my mid-twenties which is just great and unexpected.

I recommend the novel to my friends who experienced the same kind of anxiety as the characters of the novel did and who are just as intelligent and emo as they come.

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