Despite its gimmicky large-format design, with its conspicuously clever marginalia, this fictional debut could easily teach...

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GENERATION X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture

Despite its gimmicky large-format design, with its conspicuously clever marginalia, this fictional debut could easily teach Bret Easton Ellis a thing or two. Written from the same generational perspective, Coupland's self-conscious search for ""the spirit of the times"" values genuine wit and the redemptive power of storytelling. The apocalyptic tales of Dagmar Bellinghausen, Claire Baxter, and the narrator, Andy Palmer, all serve as a weird guidebook to their X-ed out generation, a group ""purposefully hiding itself"" from the hyped-up, consumerist, celebrity-obsessed, popcult saturated mainstream. Their pervasive sense of hell brings them together in Palm Springs, a nuclear-age landscape with ""no weather"" and ""no middle class."" Dag, a lapsed Mormon from Canada and a refugee from the ad game, shares bartending duties at Larry's Bar with Andy, a 30-ish student of languages from a big, middle-class family in Portland. Joining them in their desert bungalow retreat is Claire, from a wealthy much-divorced L.A. family. Pool-side, these hip Scheherazades combat boredom with their stories of Texlahoma, the Everyplace in their futuristic fables about intergalactic love, supermarket fallout, and bomb anxiety. There are also wacky little bits about the heiress who meditates into an ethereal death; a man trapped on his library ladder for ten years; and a young fellow who wants to be hit by lightning. In the foreground are this platonic trio's current problems--Dag's pursuit of ""a clean slate with no one to read it""; Claire's effort to shake her obsession with a corporate boy-toy; and Andy's own entropic search for ""less in life."" In the margins, Coupland provides a glossary of mostly funny terms (e.g., ""McJob,"" ""historical underdosing,"" ""Bradyism,"" ""teleparablizing,"" and ""brazilification""); a bunch of occasionally humorous slogans (""Nostalgia is a Weapon,"" ""Bench Press Your I.Q.""); and a handful of pointless, comic-strip frame illustrations. Even though the social commentary is often glib and misdirected, there's lots of welcome rage seething through the cracks in these fractured fictions.

Pub Date: March 25, 1991

ISBN: 031205436X

Page Count: -

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1991