An eclectic and thought-provoking collection of ephemera from Coupland (Worst. Person. Ever., 2014, etc.).
The author admits in his introduction that he’s wobbling unsteadily into the future with the title, a term used to describe how digital files decompose. “It also describes the way my brain has been feeling since 2000, as I shed older and weaker neurons and connections and create and enhance new and unexpected ones.” This substantial collection of more than 65 stories and essays reveals the breadth and depth of Coupland’s writing in a way that his recent novels have not. In addition to several acidic short stories, Coupland also contributes numerous essays on technology and the way it changes our culture, travelogues, memoirs, and satires—essentially, something for anyone who has even the slightest interest in this singular cultural voice. Short stories include works like “The Short, Brutal Life of the Channel Three News Team,” about a woman whose mother guns down a news crew, and “Superman and the Kryptonite Martinis,” which finds the iconic hero swilling drinks in a gin mill with Yoda. Some of the more wildly experimental pieces land flat, like a television pilot about George Washington being teleported to the future or an excerpt from Search, an arty abstract regarding what people search for online, written during an artist’s residency at the technology behemoth Google. Still others are inelegant satires like “An App Called Yoo.” But more often, Coupland sticks the landing, like this prescient observation from one of his technology columns: “To summarize: Everyone, basically, wants access to and control over what you will become, both as a physical and metadata entity. We are also on our way to a world of concrete walls surrounding any number of niche beliefs.”
A surprisingly personal meander around the mind of Generation X’s elder statesman.