Douglas Coupland C or D

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One of my favourite authors, I know he has his faults but I just find his books gripping and have to read them straight through, and have re-read all of them several times (postcards from the dead excepted). Is he fantastic? or a bandwagon jumping charlatan? I say the former.

chris, Friday, 30 November 2001 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I have only read two of his books - Microserfs (which I enjoyed but can't remember anything of at all except the stuff about share options and the fact that they were working on that crappy OLE thing for Windows 3.1) and Girlfriend In A Coma, which was just laughably bad.

Nick, Friday, 30 November 2001 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I think they're all good but are weakened by having crappy endings, like at some point he gets bored and ties up all the loose ends or something.

I think Girlfriend in the Coma is probably a good book if you don't understand the Smiths references. But not understanding the Smiths probably makes the whole world a better place.

Martin, Friday, 30 November 2001 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I Wuv Martin.

I've not read Generation X, but I've flipped through a couple of chapters and laughed cynically. Does that mean I R more Gen X than Coupland? Personally, I think he's a twat. But then again I would, wouldn't I? Postcards from the Dead had a few good moments but nothing zeitgeist bustingly YUM, the git.

Sarah, Friday, 30 November 2001 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I think Coupland is a good Warholier-than-thou conceptualist first and foremost, an interesting Sherry Levine-style epigramatologist second, and a novelist somewhere around 27th.

Edna Welthorpe, Mrs, Friday, 30 November 2001 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

i quite like coupland but i do think he has a problem with endings. the ending to "girlfriend in a coma" was just plain dumb, and all his other endings are hippy nonsense. ESPECIALLY Miss Wyoming.

katie, Friday, 30 November 2001 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

I thought Girlfriend in a coma was the worst hippy ending. Martin is bang on though the endings seem to be far too quick, I thought that as I was reading microserfs the other day. Some of his one-liners are great though.

chris, Friday, 30 November 2001 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

[For Sherry Levine, above, read: "Barbara Kruger"]

Edna Welthorpe, Mrs, Friday, 30 November 2001 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Microserfs=classic. I can't speak for the rest, pretty much because I heard Microserfs was his high water mark and I couldn't be bothered with the rest.

Jordan, Friday, 30 November 2001 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Gen X is classic for us late twentysulfings cause it gave us (or me?) that false sense of "ARGH THIS IS ME HE'S WRITING ABOUT!!!!". Microserfs is pretty classick as well. I still need to read Girlfrendo in a Coma.

helen fordsdale, Friday, 30 November 2001 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Microserfs was wonderful (not least because it brought back memories of my larval days of all-night coding when I was at uni - geex0r). GenX was bearable yet too up itself. trying to surf the crest of its own zeitgeist. Girlfriend in a coma started *really* well, but the second half was horrifically bad.

I stopped reading his books after that.

ogden, Friday, 30 November 2001 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

You are all reminding me that Girlfriend in a Coma does indeed start well but it goes so badly wrong that it blotted out all my positive feelings. I think Coupland is missing some kind of X factor that it turns out all novelists must have. The fact that they leave everyone thinking "That was a bad ending" maybe hints at something deeper than an isolated 'weakness with endings'.

Nick, Friday, 30 November 2001 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

love him, for the fact that gfiac is a reminder to get yr shit together and not be the same person 20 yrs after you leave high school/

geoff, Saturday, 1 December 2001 01:00 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

nine months pass...
The ending to All Families is haha. And fits with all said above: magic cure, OH NO! I nearly e-mailed mark s to ask him to pop up on this thread and say "if only for gen X: classic". That would've thrown me.

david h (david h), Saturday, 28 September 2002 09:31 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

nevah read a word david: so classic for that

mark s (mark s), Saturday, 28 September 2002 23:39 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

i have only read gen x, few years ago now and i was too old to fit the demographic but liked it best mate raves about him, and i trust her judgement so on that basis and having enjoyed gen x i say classic

donna (donna), Sunday, 29 September 2002 02:04 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

all families is a wierd one. it's like he's saved up all the exciting stuff that doesn't happen in the other books and bunged them all in this one... i imagine if it was the first one you'd read you'd be very confused. in general i'd agree with chris, although life without god is a stinker...

CarsmileSteve (CarsmileSteve), Sunday, 29 September 2002 09:11 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

life without God = worst by miles.

chris (chris), Sunday, 29 September 2002 09:23 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

the title story from life without God is really grebt IMO

J0hn Darn1elle (J0hn Darn1elle), Sunday, 29 September 2002 21:01 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

Did he create the word microserfs, or did he just swipe it for his book? He's classic if he invented the it.

lyra (lyra), Monday, 30 September 2002 02:11 (fifteen years ago) Permalink

ten months pass...
Time for a yearly renewal... I'm going to a book signing by the man on Wednesday, the first book signing I've ever been to (I'm a cultural ingrate). I suppose he is my favourite author, even if THE ENDING TO GIRLFRIEND IN A COMA IS FUCKING AWFUL.

Anyone else care to discuss the man?

Dom Passantino (Dom Passantino), Sunday, 24 August 2003 21:52 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

I just got Girlfriend in a Coma out of the library yesterday to see if it's as bad as everyone says it is (it's the only one I haven't read). All Families are Psychotic and Microserfs lead me to believe that he's nearly a good writer, if only he'd lay off the less good stuff (yes, Miss Wyoming, I'm talking about you).

ailsa (ailsa), Sunday, 24 August 2003 22:21 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

"History World" from Shampoo Planet was genius. Microserfs is a favorite of mine. The whole 'future town' description was spot on.

Spencer Chow (spencermfi), Sunday, 24 August 2003 22:23 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

Interestingly, in today's Observer interview, alongside admitting he believes that his schizophrenic, he admits that both "Miss Wyoming" and "All Families Are Psychotic" were "failed experiments".

I'd still take "Microserfs" over all other, though. The tale of wipe-clean witticisms with complete emotional death to the world underneath.

Dom Passantino (Dom Passantino), Sunday, 24 August 2003 22:31 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

He's a fantastic author if you don't finish his books, from what I've read (Girlfriend... and Miss Wyoming). I do love his laconic way of describing completely out-of-the-ordinary events, and he builds plots really well and raises many interesting questions and concepts, but just when you think he'll resolve the plots/questions, he descends into hippy-dippy nonsense endings.

The Lex (The Lex), Sunday, 24 August 2003 22:51 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

i second Dom's comments - i find "microserfs" moving as well as clever. The ending made me cry. "Life After God" is also very beautiful in parts. I do admit that he is almost nuttily hit and miss, though - his bad books are really dreadful and yes, they do almost always have terrible endings. He's worth the hype for those two books "god" and "microserfs".

jed_e_3 (jed_e_3), Sunday, 24 August 2003 23:03 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

OK does anybody think to ask whether the way Coupland ends his novels doesn't say something about his "sense of an ending," to bite Frank Kermode - whether those endings aren't kinda metatextual? For me, playing around with the endings is lots of fun, esp. with "All Families Are Psychotic."

Think "Shampoo Planet" is massively underrated, love it to bits.

J0hn Darn1elle (J0hn Darn1elle), Monday, 25 August 2003 03:02 (fourteen years ago) Permalink

two years pass...
"JPod" anyone?

read it over the weekend, 450 pages in 3 days. i did skip the 40 pages or so of pi and random digits though. the typesetting tricks felt like a gimmick though, were overdone.

koogy wonderland (koogs), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 11:17 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Did you read the bit about the 56K floppy disk?

Mädchen (Madchen), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 11:23 (eleven years ago) Permalink

im kind of shocked by the g in a c hate. i love that book. im not really interested in storylines though.

sunny successor (katharine), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 11:47 (eleven years ago) Permalink

oh, and i bought jpod from the airport gift shop last week. pleasant plains is reading it first though.

sunny successor (katharine), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 11:48 (eleven years ago) Permalink

56k floppy rings a faint bell. yes, he has his modem speeds mixed up with his floppy capacities.

i enjoyed it, for what that's worth. amazon is full of 1 and 5 star reviews (more 1s than 5s). critics are divided.

koogy wonderland (koogs), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 11:59 (eleven years ago) Permalink

isn't this guy canadian?

askance johnson (sdownes), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 14:56 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Yes, he's from Vancouver.

I tend to really like reading him, though I do admit a general sense of dissatisfaction with the endings as well. It's more like I'm interested with the characters than with the resolutions to the stories themselves.

All Families are Psychotic was a failed experiment, for sure, and I think he rushed it, because there were a lot of stupid little mistakes in there, like the their/there/they're thing, and at one point one of his characters picked up a spoon but put down a fork (or vice versa). The two after that, where he wrote as a female character, also hit and miss, though Eleanor Rigby was better than I thought it was going to be.

JPod was actually quite good, because I totally recognize the characters. I just wish he'd have gotten rid of those sections where he wasted tens of pages of paper per copy trying to make some nerd point; but you can bet there's someone poring through the digits of pi looking for the one number he's changed, so maybe that's part of the joke. And I do kind of like the concept of him writing himself in as the antagonist, so maybe that makes up for the eye-rolling parts.

Sean Carruthers (SeanC), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 15:51 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I loved him around the age that it's normal to love him (16-18), and then turned on him around the time it's normal to turn on things you loved when you were 16-18 (20-22). Generation X, like Jimi Hendrix, is a perfectly good thing whose goodness is a bit hard to get back to, now that the aesthetic it was working to capture has bled out into a million other things and no longer feels in need of capturing. Shampoo Planet is ignored by everyone despite being nearly as good reading as Microserfs. Life After God was always the one I liked best; I haven't read or thought about it in forever, but I appreciated the kind of unnatural, almost self-taught way that Coupland went about creating short stories. Girlfriend in a Coma was the first one that felt, on my first reading, kind of juvenile, the kind of novel I'd have wanted to write when I was 16, back when I loved Coupland and the Smiths both.

He's in an odd position, the guy, and while it's easy to dismiss him for it -- as a kind of teenage enthusiasm -- there's a level on which I keep deciding it's awfully brave of him. He's stranded: he writes books that are about people's lives and culture now, in a very "pop" way, a very light-reading unliterary way -- but he takes the stuff seriously enough, reaches for enough emotional impact, and plays enough tricks that it can feel like his writing aspires to high lit. The fact that it's really neither/nor brings him in for a lot of abuse (the terrible downslide in quality doesn't help, either), but it always makes me wonder why there aren't more people successfully filling that particular gap in fiction.

(And then the answer sometimes comes that people are maybe more interested in the "culture" part than the "taking it seriously" / "raching for emotional impact" part, and "culture" is always easily sold in movie form. Oh D Coupland, you were, evidently, my generation's Garden State.)

nabisco (nabisco), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 15:59 (eleven years ago) Permalink

I mean, there would seem to be a great many writers aspiring to fill that gap, to write popular novels steeped in everyday-today more so than literary-fiction-as-a-genre, but very, very few of them seem to get very far with it, so far as I can tell.

nabisco (nabisco), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 16:02 (eleven years ago) Permalink

And I do kind of like the concept of him writing himself in as the antagonist, so maybe that makes up for the eye-rolling parts.

yike, that sounds like an eye-rolling part to me. can anyone write fiction without putting themselves in it or doing some meta-footnote trickery nowadays? ditto Kaufman-esque movie trickery ..... used to love that stuff but I am way past the breaking point. get (1) original gimmick.

Renard (Renard), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 16:12 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Well, (a) there's nothing "meta" about footnotes -- they're just footnotes -- plus (b) umm, yeah, about 99% of all novels published don't do anything remotely like that.

nabisco (nabisco), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 16:14 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i saw him on mtv live on mtv canada a few days ago (the live audience one with daryn from BUZZ and the hot indian chick and that 7 foot tall girl with waterfall hair). shit was really awkward and uncomfortable and wrong cause he's old as hell (seriously, older than my fucking dad). i can't not hatefully associate him with like all this faggot young rich white person 90s shit. it's like reading douglas rushkoff books about smart drugs and virtual reality and raves.

333333333333 (33333), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 16:14 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i like flipping through his books of canadiana or whatever in chapters with pictures of stubby beer bottles though.

333333333333 (33333), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 16:15 (eleven years ago) Permalink

plus (b) umm, yeah, about 99% of all novels published don't do anything remotely like that.

har har

I'm just saying that post David Foster Wallace / Paul Auster / Bret Easton Ellis / Charlie Kaufman and whoever else in modern fiction has written themself in as a character, I consider it a mark on the negative side to fall back on this tactic. it seems overused in modern fiction. not a clever idea to "redeem the eye-rolling parts." that's all ....

I do like Coupland, I read all his stuff up through Polaroids.

Renard (Renard), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 16:36 (eleven years ago) Permalink

nabsico OTM about everything. Yes his quality's collapsing, but I somehow still seem to have bought everything. Loved GenX and Microserfs when they came out, but I can't seem to get through another sitting of GenX now.

I gave DC a ticket to the glasgow underground once. He promised to put it in one of his collages. Ahem.

stet (stet), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 16:38 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Yeah Renard I'm not arguing about the done-ness of the technique, just the implication that everyone and his cousin does it, because really, hardly anyone does. I think even your list is reading -- when has DFW ever inserted author-as-character stuff? And even if we sub Foer in for Wallace, where exactly is the rest of the teeming multitude? And much exactly is it a "trick" in most of these cases -- e.g. how much difference does it make to Auster (apart from borrowing some high-lit sheen), and how is it problematic for Foer (who uses it in a kind of self-deprecating way, and its main function turns out to be that the text actually belongs to Alex more so than young-writer-Foer)? And how much of a dent does that make against that other 99% of everything published? I'm not sure it's a significant trend, not unless your attention is focused on exactly the sort of egghead-wunderkind writers most likely to do this kind of thing in the first place. (And you could say "but that's who everyone pays attention to," but I'm not sure even that would be true; there are reviews published every day of a million other things, to the point where saying "everyone does this author-as-character thing" is like saying "all TV shows are about plastic surgeons" -- a couple are, I guess, but not really that many.)

nabisco (nabisco), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 17:27 (eleven years ago) Permalink


- "even your list is reaching"
- "And how much exactly is it a 'trick'"

nabisco (nabisco), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 17:30 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i loved him when i was 16-18. Maybe one day i will re-read microserfs and love him again.

jeffrey (johnson), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 21:34 (eleven years ago) Permalink

but probably not.

jeffrey (johnson), Tuesday, 13 June 2006 21:34 (eleven years ago) Permalink

i don't think microserfs has aged well. seems to fall into that gap where things are too old to be relevant but not old enough to be provoke nostalgia (does anyone get nostalgic for 486s for instance?)

how JPod relates to microserfs is interesting, same characters(?) but no mention of their earlier life / exploits. (um, read a review recently for some other book that did something similar). ha, object re-use applied to literature i guess.

what did they want the safety deposit key for? did they ever use it?

spent a lot of the book confusing d. coupland with w. gibson, especially 'pattern recognition'. coupland's odd in that i've read 75% of his books but don't really care about the other 25%. i guess i only bought this one because i saw it cheap and the microserfs connection.

koogy wonderland (koogs), Wednesday, 14 June 2006 12:00 (eleven years ago) Permalink

It's funny you should say that because I love Pattern Recognition. What I liked about jPod was the odd autism theories and the crazy parents. Coupland gets very little credit for good crazy parents.

suzy (suzy), Wednesday, 14 June 2006 12:19 (eleven years ago) Permalink

Pattern Recognition is, i think, gibson slumming it slightly in the present. DC is more zeitgeisty, gibson doesn't try to be, i don't think (but sometimes is by accident).

i didn't see anything odd in the autism theories, oddly enough - had thought the same thing to myself for some time (possibly as a result of reading it elsewhere).

didn't he try and explain the parents in terms of being the Greatest Generation or something. or were they just hippy parents 40 years on?

review from the weekend (possibly several weekends ago that i just got around to reading prior to recycling) mentioned John Irving and, whilst dc hiself denies the connection having not read any JI, there is a similarity there, i think. unfortunately i fell asleep before he was talked about on newsnight review.

koogy wonderland (koogs), Wednesday, 14 June 2006 13:08 (eleven years ago) Permalink

In PR Gibson researched well, I think. The autism theories are only odd to me in the sense that they are kind of obvious; suffice it to say I find the book VERY ILX, in a good way.

suzy (suzy), Wednesday, 14 June 2006 13:11 (eleven years ago) Permalink

koogs if yr really that unterested you can watch last week's newnight review here

it's not very interesting though.

jed_ (jed), Wednesday, 14 June 2006 13:45 (eleven years ago) Permalink

cheers. (starts about 15 minutes in)

they give away the end! 8)

(plus she didn't shoot the biker, it was electrocution.)

koogy wonderland (koogs), Wednesday, 14 June 2006 14:34 (eleven years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

reading jpod at the moment. i like it. find it hard to stop reading. a bit too knowing with the clever-cleverness at times but am looking forward to reading the rest of his books.

mr x, Saturday, 8 December 2007 21:00 (nine years ago) Permalink

one month passes...

Also, how is there a TV series of Jpod? It's so weird, like The IT Crowd crossed with Ikea and nothing like the book at all.

James Mitchell, Friday, 25 January 2008 01:30 (nine years ago) Permalink

I actually had a moment of nostalgia and read JPod! It was not good, but all the not-good things about it were like familiar Coupland things that just made me go "aww" instead of "eww." Kind of an "oh, Couplandpaws" thing.

nabisco, Friday, 25 January 2008 02:00 (nine years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Is anybody bothering with Generation A?

James Mitchell, Monday, 5 October 2009 07:33 (eight years ago) Permalink

Just got it out the library. Not read it yet. Nice yellow cover though (reminds me of those old gollancz sf books).

my name is ὀνοματοποιία (Ned Trifle II), Monday, 5 October 2009 08:27 (eight years ago) Permalink

Publishers sent me a copy in August, first time I've ever been meh-ed out by Coupland (whose cursory observations usually bring me out in hives of love but not this time).

edward everett horton hears a who (suzy), Monday, 5 October 2009 08:52 (eight years ago) Permalink

I take it that the story is to Generation X what Jpod was to Microserfs?

James Mitchell, Monday, 5 October 2009 08:53 (eight years ago) Permalink

i.e. a rewrite with updated references to Facebook and the like.

James Mitchell, Monday, 5 October 2009 08:53 (eight years ago) Permalink

Argh, jPod gave me a rash, and since then each new Coupland book has been held in my hands briefly in the bookshop before I think "this will be awful" and put it back.

ein fisch schwimmt im wasser · fisch im wasser durstig (a passing spacecadet), Monday, 5 October 2009 09:37 (eight years ago) Permalink

Bizarre thing about JPod is that the TV series was such an improvement on the book.

treefell, Monday, 5 October 2009 09:52 (eight years ago) Permalink

anybody get the custom-designed dustjacket?

DAN P3RRY MAD AT GRANDMA (just1n3), Monday, 5 October 2009 15:11 (eight years ago) Permalink

Bizarre thing about JPod is that the TV series was such an improvement on the book.

Didn't the series have Alan Thicke? I think that was why I was afraid of watching it.

The ever dapper nicolars (Nicole), Monday, 5 October 2009 15:14 (eight years ago) Permalink

He was awesome in Jpod.

James Mitchell, Monday, 5 October 2009 17:42 (eight years ago) Permalink

three weeks pass...

Generation A left me underwhelmed I have to say. Seemed to start off well and it was a good idea but it just seemed to coast a bit after the first few chapters. Also I wasn't convinced by the characters from different countries, the european guy and the Indian guy were both too stereotypical which irritated me. Fun in places, but overall a bit empty. You know, like life. Ha!

PC Thug (Ned Trifle II), Wednesday, 28 October 2009 10:36 (eight years ago) Permalink

eleven months pass...

45 thoughts on the next decade:

Stupid people will be in charge, only to be replaced by ever-stupider people. You will live in a world without kings, only princes in whom our faith is shattered.

We will accept the obvious truth that we brought this upon ourselves.

kind of shrill and very self-righteous (Dr Morbius), Sunday, 10 October 2010 16:51 (seven years ago) Permalink

The day Copeland writes a book about the singularity, I'll cry.

The Ten Things I Hate About Commandments (Abbbottt), Sunday, 10 October 2010 19:59 (seven years ago) Permalink

one year passes...

Coming to the ritzier neighbourhoods of Vancouver: Coupland's V-POLES.

Operative word in the headline is "may".

everything, Wednesday, 23 May 2012 18:40 (five years ago) Permalink

five years pass...

I've been getting back into him. (Loved the first four books as a teenager; didn't like Polaroids or Coma and never followed him again.) Read Hey Nostradamus over the summer and just finished Generation A, liked both a lot and actually thought Generation A was great, the way all this stuff that never really added up suddenly came together in a totally unexpected way with the twist. Not a rewrite of X at all.

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Wednesday, 27 September 2017 04:05 (one month ago) Permalink

Been digging back into Microserfs - always thought his stuff was light fluffy reading but this is kind of a slog tbh

licorice oratorio (baaderonixx), Wednesday, 27 September 2017 10:24 (one month ago) Permalink

the european guy and the Indian guy were both too stereotypical which irritated me

I really liked Harj (who was Sri Lankan, not Indian). I'm not sure in what ways he was stereotypical, really (although I'm not sure "Vetharanayan" is a common last name; "Vethanarayan" sounds more likely to me). I really liked how he was always very conscious of the stereotypical impressions that Westerners, especially Americans, would have of him, and would manipulate or leverage these to achieve his goals. There were two major French characters and I don't really think "self-absorbed WoW addict" or "sarcastic assholish scientific genius" are dominant French stereotypes?

No purposes. Sounds. (Sund4r), Wednesday, 27 September 2017 13:34 (one month ago) Permalink

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