Douglas Coupland was born December 30, 1961 on a Canadian military
base in Baden-Sollingen, Germany. He is the third of four sons
of Douglas Charles Thomas who is a doctor and C. Janet (Campbell)
Coupland who originally came from Winnipeg (no remaining relatives
there). Of his family, he has said "I come from an unemotional,
undemonstrative family." He returned to Vancouver at the
age of 4 in 1965, was raised there. His parents still reside in
the same house he grew up in. During his childhood, he had no
religious upbringing and sleep was very important to the family:
he and other family members often missed class because of the
need to sleep.
in 1979 from Sentinel Secondary School in West Vancouver. After
graduating Emily Carr College of Art and Design in Vancouver in
1984 from the studio program in sculpture, Coupland travelled
to Hawaii, the European Design Insitute in Milan, Italy and the
Hokkaido College of Art and Design in Sapporo, Japan. In Japan,
he completed a two-year course in Japanese business science along
with fine art and industrial design in 1986. He enjoyed early
success as a sculptor, including a solo show at the Vancouver
Art Gallery entitled "The Floating World" in November
1987. He was offered a writing job after the editor of a local
paper (Malcolm Parry) was amused by a postcard he had written
while living in Japan and asked him to do a piece on a noted Los
Angeles art dealer. Of this job, he called it a "bottom-of-the-food-chain"
with "Our office cubicles were like veal-fattening pens.
There was just no dignity."
in Generation X first emerged in a 1988 article for Vancouver
magazine. He continued the project, with cartoonist Paul Leroche,
in a strip the two created for Vista in Toronto, the short-lived
magazine published by auto-parts magnate Frank Stronach. It was
in Toronto that he got into the habit of taking refuge underneath
desks. St. Martin's Press in New York asked him to write a guide
to Generation X - something on the model of the Yuppie Handbook
in the fall of 1989. Instead, Coupland moved to Palm Springs,
California, to write his first book, Generation X. He has repeatedly
resisted, after the publication of Generation X, to be called
the spokesperson for his generation. "I speak for myself,
not for a generation. I never have."
divides his time between Vancouver, Los Angeles, northern Scotland
and other "psychically strong" -as he calls them- regions.
However he mainly lives in West Vancouver in a house designed
by Ron Thon. Coupland has won two Canadian National Awards for
Excellence in Industrial Design. He refuses to own furniture,
collects only meteorites, art objects and letters which are locked
in a vault in Vancouver. His ten novels to date, Generation X
(1991), Shampoo Planet (1992), Life After God (1994), Microserfs
(1995), Polaroids From the Dead (1996), Girlfriend in a Coma (1998),
Lara's Book: Lara Croft and the Tomb Raider Phenomenon (1998),
Miss Wyoming (1999) and City of Glass (2000) have been translated
into 22 languages and 30 countries. Coupland is also a regular
contributor to The New York Times, the New Republic and ArtForum.
His on-going design experiments include everything from launching
a line of furniture to Smirnoff vodka ads for the New Yorker (a
fundraiser for the Western Canada Wilderness Committee). His journalism
ranges form a short story on Dolly the cloned sheep in Time magazine
(U.S. edition) to guest-editing two special issues of Vancouver
Magazine on Vancouver's quirky future as a city state on the Pacific.
The western dimension
As Coupland explained
in a 1995 interview, "In his final chapter, Fussell named
an 'X' category of people who wanted to hop off the merry-go-round
of status, money, and social climbing that so often frames modern
existence." It was after the publication of Coupland's book
that the term began being used as a name for the generation by
the media, who introduced Generation X as a group of flannel-wearing,
alienated, overeducated, underachieving slackers with body piercing,
who drank franchise-store coffee and had to work at McJobs.
the developing world
Generation X in its
conception is originally a western concept, although Japan has
its own version of Generation X. Developing countries, which make
up the vast majority of the global population, have a generation
X that differs from that in the West, due to poor education and
little disposable income. However, the version of generation X
that the developing nations experience essentially came out of
the end of World War II and the subsequent decline of colonial
occupation, the changes demanded on social hierarchy that it accompanied
among the second generation born since the second world war, and
the duality of democratic transition amid increasing information
blockade and ever-increasing numbers of people seeking urban life
over an agrarian economy.
version of generation X in the developing world is characterised
* its incessant need
to redefine social norms to newer socio-economic system,
* the sheer pace at which they need to adapt to new social influences
along with the need to integrate it to their native cultural context,
* the constant aspiration for a more egalitarian society in cultures
that were long colonised and have an even longer history of hierarchical
factors defining generation X
The aspects and essence
that binds the generation X across economic levels and cultures
are the defining points of the 1970's: the Bretton Woods system
and its subsequent failure, The impact of the contraceptive pill
on social-interactional dynamics and the Oil shock of 1973.
Other common global
influences defining the generation X across the world include:
increasingly flexible and varied gender roles for women contrasted
with even more rigid gender roles for men, the unprecedented socio-economic
impact of an ever increasing number of women entering the non-agrarian
economic workforce, and the sweeping cultural-religious impact
of the Iranian revolution towards the end of the 1970's in 1979.
The global experience
of a cultural transition like generation X, although in various
forms, revealed the inter-dependence of economies since world
war II in 1945, and showed the huge impact of American economic
policies on the world.