“The road is over, John-O. It never even was. You’re thinking like a kid behind a Starbucks counter sneaking looks at his Kerouac paperback and writing ‘That’s so true!’ in the margins.”
And this I humbling because I was a kid behind a Purdy’s Chocolates counter sneaking looks at my Douglas Coupland paperback and writing ‘That’s so true!’ in the margins. I got off the train quickly, though – in 2000 I read Generation X and in 2001 Life After God and then in 2002 Microserfs and then I lost the plot. The conventional wisdom then was that Coupland had been brilliant at the start of the decade but fell into diminishing returns – Microserfs then Girlfriend in a Coma then Miss Wyoming and then it was all awful. This is what I understood before reading anything he’d ever written. But he kept writing novels after novels and seems to claim some post-cool omnipresence now – Rick Mercer with an edge? Are the same people that read Generation X reading Generation A? Because my sense, wholly unfounded and possibly very wrong, is that everyone who read Generation X at the time or at least in the 1990s stopped reading his books after Miss Wyoming.
I guess I first wanted to read Douglas Coupland because he loves my favourite band too and in fact wrote the liner notes to Good Humor in 1998 – “And so we fall into a trance and a dream of love. The sounds of the city are the sounds that bring to us news of love and adventure. And this is the sound of Saint Etienne – a sound that is both utterly metropolitan and effortlessly clean. It is the sound of love without blame, and hope without conditions.” And all my cool friends had read him.
I bought Life After God for my sister and she was happy; she’d actually just read one of his recent novels, maybe Eleanor Rigby or jPod. But she hadn’t read the ‘classics,’ the epochal early works. And every store has copies of Hey Nostradamus! for $9 used but wow, I really can’t imagine a time where I might end up reading that book.