Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture
X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, published in 1991,
is the first novel by Douglas Coupland. It is Coupland's most
famous novel, partially due to the fact that it spawned the term
publishing of the novel was presented in a wide-paged dual column
style. In one column is the storyline, and in the other were neologisms
(along with definitions for each of them) used to describe the
lives of Generation X members, as well as small illustrations.
Some later editions of the novel were produced with in a more
traditional style, but the margin notes were retained as footnotes.
is a social satire about three members of Generation X - Dag,
Andy, and Claire - who have moved to Palm Springs, California
to get away from an overly commercialized world and rediscover
themselves. In the process, they tell each other (and the guests
who drop by now and then) stories, some about their lives and
some made up to represent aspects of their lives.
main story as well as the stories the characters tell, we see
examples of how life is for members of Generation X. Stuck with
their only career choices being in the service industry, being
forced to live with the commercialism that is all around them,
and being unable to afford housing, their generation lives a bleak
life that is only getting bleaker. The only hope for the characters
is to leave behind the lives they live and find new ones without
the trappings of modern society.
became widely popular after its first publication. The assortment
of neologisms presented in the book would help in this popularizing.
Some of these terms, such as McJob, became commonly used by both
the media and the public. More notably, however, was the widespread
use of the term "Generation X", which began being used
as a name for the generation by the media after the publication
of the novel.
the X from Paul Fussell's 1983 book Class, where the term "class
X" designated a region of America's social hierarchy rather
than a generation. 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." This
would become a popular view in the media of what the Generation
X's attitude was like at the time.
- The book's narrator and main character. Andy works in a bar
(a McJob, as he describes it) and lives in a small bungalow. He's
close friends with Dag and Claire. As in the case of Dag and Claire,
Andy is trying to find a way to live his life without the trappings
of modern society.
• Dagmar - Dag for short. He works with Andy at the bar
and lives next door to him in his own bungalow. Dag left an office
job in order to find himself a better lifestyle. He has an odd
obsession with the possibility of a nuclear apocalypse.
• Claire - A friend of Andy and Dag (though not in a romantic
relationship with either of them) who lives in a neighboring bungalow.
She wants to live life as Andy and Dag are trying to, but finds
it hard especially because of her boyfriend Tobias.
• Tobias - A superficial yuppie who is Claire's boyfriend.
He finds the lifestyle of Andy, Dag, and Claire interesting, but
is unable to commit to it. Neither Andy nor Dag likes him.
• Elvissa - Claire's best friend. She joins the group at
one point in the story to tell her own short story.
• Tyler - Andy's younger brother. Tyler is a young Generation
Xer who doesn't seem to take his life seriously but deep down
inside wishes he could as Andy does.
Other books from Douglas Coupland
Planet (1992): Shampoo Planet is the rich and dazzling
point where two worlds collide - those of 1960s parents and their
1990s offspring, "Global Teens," the generation after
Generation X. Tyler Johnson is a twenty-year-old MTV child. Once
a baby raised in a hippie commune, he now sells fake Chanel T-shirts,
collects shampoo and studies hotel/motel management in a small
northwest city saddled with a dying mega-mall and a collapsed
nuclear industry. An ambitious Reagan Youth, Tyler dreams of escape
and a career with the corporation whose offices his mother once
mother is the fortysomething Jasmine, a "hippie chick"
with a Woodstock heart full of love - but also full of confusion
because her 1960s dream has turned sour. Burdened with two failed
marriages, three kids at home and job layoffs, Jasmine wonders
if the 1960s dream alone can protect her from the 1990s. It's
a life . . . until two figures with secret agendas - Tyler's yuppie-land-developer
stepfather, Dan, and "Princess Stephanie," his summer
fling from Europe - emerge, unleashing Tyler on a dizzying journey
into the contemporary cultural psyche, a voyage full of rock videos,
toxic waste, fatherlessness, celebrity detox centers, french-fry
computers, quack get-rich-quick cat food schemes, clearcut forests
and much, much more.
six-month chronicle of Tyler's life takes us from his Washington
State hometown to the ongoing party beside Jim Morrison's Paris
grave, to a wild island in British Columbia, to the freak-filled
redwood forests of northern California, to a cheesy Hollywood,
to ultramodern Seattle and then back home. On the way we meet
a constellation of other characters: Anna-Louise, Tyler's post-feminist
girlfriend with an eating disorder; Neil, Tyler's Deadhead dope-ranching
biological father; Daisy, his neo-hippie sister; Murray, her dreadlocked
boyfriend; and Harmony, a rich computer hacker with a fetish for
Star Trek and the medieval.
After God (1994): What happens if we are raised without
religion or beliefs? We are all living creatures with strong religious
impulses, yet where do these impulses flow in a world of malls
and TV, Kraft dinners and jets? How do we cope with loneliness?
Anxiety? The collapse of relationships? HOW DO WE REACH THE QUIET
SAFE LAYER OF OUR LIVES?
(1995): Microserfs: a hilarious, fanatically detailed and oddly
moving book about a handful of misfit Microsoft employees who
realize that they don't have lives and subsequently become determined
to get lives inside the lightning-paced world of high-tech 1990s'
American geek culture. Amid a Seattle backdrop of software corporate
cultishness and the financial terror of San Francisco and Silicon
Valley tech startups, the members of Coupland's quirky ensemble
"stick a piece of dynamite inside themselves, like a cartoon
cat, in the hopes that when they reassemble their exploded pieces
they will be somebody different."
readers an intimate, deadly accurate and profoundly funny view
of a way of life that is quickly becoming the dominant lifestyle:
friends, families and lovers falling through trapdoors of the
new electronic order and becoming involved in an engaging, awkward
scramble toward love and success in a brave new world.
From the Dead (1996): Douglas Coupland takes his sparkling
literary talent in a new direction with this crackling collection
of takes on life and death in North America - from his sweeping
portrait of Grateful Dead culture to the deaths of Marilyn Monroe,
Kurt Cobain and the middle class. For years, Coupland's razor-sharp
insights into what it means to be human in an age of technology
have garnered the highest praise from fans and critics alike.
At last, Coupland has assembled a wide variety of stories and
personal "postcards" about the pivotal people and places
that have defined our modern lives. Polaroids from the Dead is
a skillful combination of stories, fact and fiction - keen outtakes
on life in the late twentieth century, exploring the recent past
and a society obsessed with celebrity, crime and death. Princess
Diana, Nicole Brown Simpson and Madonna are but some of the people
In A Coma (1998): "The future's not a good place.
It's cruel. I saw it last night. We were all there: we were older.
'Meaning' had vanished. And yet we didn't know it. I looked at
us up close. Our eyes were without souls . . . like a salmon lying
on a deck, one eye flat on the wood, the other eye looking straight
love for the first time, high school senior Karen Ann McNeil confides
to her boyfriend, Richard, of the dark visions she's been suffering
recently. It's only a few hours later on that snowy Saturday night
in 1979 that she descends into a coma. Nine months later, she
gives birth to a daughter, Megan, her child by Richard. Karen
remains comatose for the next eighteen years. Richard and her
circle of friends reside in an emotional purgatory throughout
the next two decades, passing through careers as models, film
special-effects technicians, doctors and demolition experts before
finally being reunited while working on a conspiracy-driven supernatural
reawakening, life grows as surreal as the television show. Strange,
apocalyptic events begin to occur. Later, amid the world's rubble,
Karen, Richard and their friends attempt to restore their own
Book (1998): Lara's Book Lara's Book is a unique publication
for Prima Games. It chronicles the amazing popularity of Lara
Croft (the lovely leading lady of the Tomb Raider series). This
book has original work by Douglas Coupland (author of Generation
X and Girlfriend in a Coma) who gives his thoughts on the phenomenon
and an original story about Lara. The book also includes thousands
of pictures of Lara from around the world, some never before seen
in print. Plus, strategy guide author Kip Ward has created new
gameplay strategies Tomb Raider, Tomb Raider II, and Tomb Raider
Gold for exclusive release in Lara's Book. It's a treat for Lara
fans and an introduction for those who have yet to be acquainted
with the perky Ms. Croft.
Wyoming (2000): Coupland's fifth novel modishly matures
the generation he christened (Generation X) via a lonely pair
of thirtyish Hollywood burnouts in search of meaning. Devotees
will recognize the characteristic blend of hip cultural references,
ambient low-grade humor and an unravishing love tale involving
dead-enders living in hope of hope. The romance is a fragmented
affair that resolves itself in this concluding, nullifying phrase:
Whatever came to them next would mercifully erase the creatures
theyd already become as they crawled along the plastic radiant
way. What leads up to that F. Scott Fitzgerald envoi is the story
of John Johnson, a maker of mega-selling trash flicks for teens,
who falls ill, has a vision and leaves Hollywood behind for the
joys of dumpster diving in the Southwest; and Susan Colgate, a
veteran of kiddie beauty pageants whose generous half-hour of
sitcom fame has ended and whose airliner takes a nosedive into
a field in the Midwest, leaving her miraculously unharmed. The
two meet in a restaurant, take a walk down Sunset in the afternoon
and are mutually enchanted. Despite their efforts to meet again,
flashbacks, flashforwards and sitcom misfortunes intervene. Susie's
mom Marilyn, broke, deprived of an airline settlement and abandoned
by her resentful daughter, kidnaps Susie's infant Eugene, a child
conceived and born during her anonymous lost year immediately
after the plane crash and John, with the help of young lovers
Ryan and Vanessa, begins his search for Susie. They all end up
in Wyoming, mother and daughter reconciled, mother and infant
reunited and Susie and John heading out for the plastic radiant
• City of Glass
(2000) — a collection of essays and photographs of Vancouver.
• Souvenir of Canada (2002)
• School Spirit (2002)
• Souvenir of Canada 2 (2004)
• Terry - The Life of Canadian Terry Fox (2005)