Thursday, June 01, 2006

Borrowed nostalgia for the unremembered '80s

(Ten points if you can spot the lyric reference.)

Went down to the UCL Bloomsbury Theatre last night to see Douglas Coupland give a reading (oooh) from his latest book, J-Pod. Having only read two of his books until now (Generation X and Girlfriend in a Coma), I've never considered myself to be an aficionado, unlike some of the trendy-jacket brigade that were in attendance yesterday. But two things struck me last night, both of which have now made me want to go read more of his work.

  1. I think the reason Coupland first made a name for himself is because he wrote about the insignificant and the ordinary events that make up the lives of most middle-class North Americans. Generation X was really written for kids who grew up saying things like "psych!" and "I know you are, but what am I?", and thought they were the epitome of irony and hip. It was also probably the US literary answer to the Smiths, bemoaning authority and greed and yuppies and everything else that was evil about the '80s. It was awkward and self-conscious while still maintaining a sense of humour about it; a trait portrayed in the flesh by Coupland himself last night, openly chastising himself for going off on tangents during the Q&A session: "Nice one Doug, she didn't even ask that question." It just made me realise that a lot of today's "trendy" literature is very slick and polished, and tends to skip over a lot of the neuroses that characterise Coupland's novels, making them seem very, well, '90s. However, with the threat of nuclear bombs hovering over us once more, religious fundamentalists of all stripes trying to claw us back into the dark ages, and more people voting in Big Brother than in actual general elections, I'd say there's still a fair bit to be neurotic about in 2006, wouldn't you? This is one of the people that is writing down our everyday culture, or the lack of it, as it happens, and for that, I intend to read more of him.

  2. There's Canadian, and then there's Douglas Coupland. That accent! I could listen to it all day... "What the fuck err you talkin' aboot?" As we took our seats in the auditorium prior to the event, I turned to the friend I was there with and said, "Like all successful Canadians, he's probably lived in the US for the past 30 years." Where Coupland calls home is none of my business, but I can now safely assume that with an accent like that, it's highly likely to be somewhere in Canada. Bless!


At June 01, 2006 2:55 pm, Anonymous pangloss said...

LCD Soundsystem - Losing My Edge.

Coupland lives in Vancouver, by the way.

At June 01, 2006 4:11 pm, Blogger Lady M said...

10 points for Pangloss!

Vancouver's nice, must go back there someday. Bitching expensive place to live, though.


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