[Book] Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture / Douglas Coupland #TBR20

Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture is my sixth book read for #TBR20 Challenge!

In the Fall of 1994, Douglas Coupland came to my Alma Mater, Western University, to speak and read excerpts from his book, Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture. It was a PACKED house. I went with a couple of friends who were very into him. I knew nothing about him, except he wrote a book where its stories were supposed to describe the angst of my generation; Generation X. I’d be lying if I said I was a willing listener. Mostly I was lost, while everyone around me sat engaged, almost like they were sitting at Jesus’ feet. People went on about Coupland for weeks afterward.

Following that lecture, a friend lent me their copy of the book. I tried reading it, but couldn’t get past the first hundred pages. The stories told by main characters, Dag, Claire and Andy about working McJobs, and telling their corporate bosses to get lost never spoke to me, nor held my interest. I was looking for some deep meaning, and I just didn’t get it. I wanted to like it like my friends liked it…but, alas, I wound up dropping the book.

I don’t “get” Douglas Coupland. I have tried and tried to pretend to be into him, I swear! But his tales of disenfranchised angst never spoke to me. It’s over my head or…something.

Twenty years later, and I thought I would give Generation X another shot. Again, I didn’t get very far in the book. It just didn’t sink its teeth in. What is the deal with this book? Why don’t I like it?

Is this book supposed to be funny? Am I being too literal? Sometimes I miss the joke…

Maybe it’s because I have always had a propensity to be rule-bound and respectful of authority? Perhaps I have a strong sense of responsibility and more ambition than was expressed in Generation X? Maybe I just couldn’t relate to the characters? Maybe I am happier than the weight of the tales told within its pages? I don’t know, but lets just end it here by saying this book really missed the mark.

On to my next book…

#TBR20 Project Participant!! (but it’s taking me a lifetime!)

The “To Be Read 20” Project, is created and hosted by Eva Stalker at evastalker.com. The goal of the project is to read through 20 books I own before buying any more books.


  1. I remember when the book came out. Everyone was all gaga for it in my contemporary lit class at York. I read it a few years later and liked it. However, it is nowhere near his best book. You might prefer something like “Microserfs” or “jPod” (that one got made into a short-lived TV series). I think his best books though are “Eleanor Rigby” and “Girlfriend in a coma”, which is unsurprising, I guess, since they’re named after songs.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. My wife really enjoyed “Eleanor Rigby” too, which is a bigger endorsement than it sounds because she was never one for all that pomo stuff.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have a feeling I’d love Girlfriend in a Coma!
        I know that feeling Sarca when you want to like something that the masses seem to adore – good for you for not feeling like you have to praise it.
        I’ve only read one of his (Generation A), I’d say overall more intriguing than amazing, somewhere in the 7/10 neighbourhood

        Liked by 2 people

        1. You should definitely read Girlfriend in a coma. Plenty of Smiths references throughout, mostly hidden within the text. It’s like a search word puzzle.

          Liked by 2 people

  2. Back when I did book reviews I invariably described myself as having a love-hate relationship with him despite the fact that book after book it just looked like hate,

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m a big fan of Douglas Coupland. My favorites from him are Shampoo Planet, Life After God, The Gum Thief and Eleanor Rigby. Think of Generation X as his first book and leave it at that. He also has 2 books called Souvenirs of Canada that are pretty brilliant and fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for chiming in, Janna! GenX is already in the “give away” box to Goodwill, and I will find another Coupland novel that suits me. Thanks for the recommendations.


  4. Interesting you didn’t like the angst here but you liked Reality Bites! Hmm… Well, I read this book back in the day and liked it well enough, though he wrote better ones later. One of his more recent ones, Worst. Person. Ever. was on my TBR list and it was laugh-out-loud funny. I don’t know if I would like Generation X now, I suppose I could try it again. My biggest issue with his books were always the endings. I liked a lot of what went on in the stories but then he always ends them wrong (to me). Ah well.

    Good on you for getting another TBR book under your belt!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I read JPod for basically the same reason — everyone told me how much they love Douglas Coupland. I thought some of the lines about game development were funny, but I didn’t really like the book, and only finished it out of this sense that maybe the next part would be the thing everyone else likes.


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