Douglas Coupland really has outdone himself with his new novel, Generation A. The novel “mirrors” decade-old Generation X by focusing on five very different yet similar people all over the world… in the future.
The book feels unlike anything I’ve read of his in the past, but it does in these ways: focusing on people in their mid-20s or 30s, they feel alone and they have very active imaginations.
The world is now a chaos that knows the human species drove the bees away. The plants have trouble pollinating. Fruit becomes a rare delicacy. Humans are even more reliant on digital communications (than we thought we could be now!) and logos/brands than ever before. It’s a scary truth. It’s a critique on how Coupland must feel the world will end up, and I have to say in this regard I definitely agree.
But the mystery is: why did the bees leave? And why are they back? They chose to sting five random different people all over the world, and now they’re brought together in this unusual case. They struggle through anonymity and celebrity vectors – going along with the game.
The most curious part of this book is that Coupland does not use dates to explain what time period this is. Just the future. You don’t know exactly how old anyone is. You don’t know what year it is. The only date I noticed was when the character Diana was imagining about her tombstone and it read “Born 1990… Died 2077.” Now it’s clearly not 2077 in the book due to other details, but the 1990 is all we have to base off of, and in this book we believe Diana should be in her 30’s. Any other possible dates are avoided by Coupland. He wants you to know that this is our future, no matter what date, but it’s coming soon. It’s like 1984 or Brave New World, but he didn’t want to get flogged with a wrong date.
All of the characters are quirky and for the most part easy to love, classic Coupland characters. They’ve all been abandoned in some way, but loved by the bees.
I very much enjoyed reading this book – it was refreshing, but depressing at all the right parts. Cautious. I must admit I have not read Generation X, but I am more intrigued to do so now. It’s got quite a few plot twists, but the most ineresting part is about a popular drug called Solon, which I believe seems symbolic as so close to “So long.”
Yes, this book seems different from his others (or at least the ones I’ve read), but it’s still very worthwhile to read. I mean, it’s Douglas Coupland, how could you not?
Watch this video and have yourself a laugh:
Then go over to iTunes, type in “Douglas Coupland video podcasts” and download the Generation A podcast with more amazing videos. The first podcast has an amazing look into why Coupland wrote this. So smart. Also – fake commercials – aweesooome.