And now for something ever-so-slightly different.

I’m going to go off on a tangent and write about critically-acclaimed Canadian author Douglas Coupland. I’ve been reading quite a bit of his work lately, and it seems to be rather hit-or-miss where my tastes are concerned.

The ones I really liked:
The Gum Thief
Eleanor Rigby

The ones I found a bit meh:
JPod [1]
Generation X
Life After God
Hey Nostradamus!

I’m currently trying to read Shampoo Planet, but I seem to be getting bored of it, so I probably won’t finish.

Oddly enough, with maybe one exception, I seem to like his less favourably-reviewed books better than his “greatest hits”, so to speak. Coupland is best known for writing things that “represent a generation”, to the point where I wouldn’t be surprised if decades from now, Generation X became requisite material for high school reading lists. To me, this really just brings to mind traumatizing images of studying The Great Gatsby in IB English 12 and having to highlight every reference to “gold” in the book. Blech.

The point I’m trying to make here is that stories that appear to push too hard in their universality often lose the humanity and character that would otherwise make them compelling. It could just be my personal bias towards airy-fairy emotionally-driven character pieces or simply some kind of desire to conform to non-conformity, but generally, things that wind up being regarded as “classics” never really seem to do it for me.

I once received the following criticism regarding Pigeons in the Park: “With Hamlet, we got the feeling he was questioning the meaning of life. With this, it’s whether dialog in games should be multi-ending.” The irony being that Hamlet is also one of those “classic” stories that didn’t really tug at my heart strings all that much. Figures.

  1. Okay, so this one wasn’t so much bad as disappointing because it purported to be about life at video game company but wasn’t really. It’s supposed to be a spiritual sequel to Microserfs, but as with many sequels, the original is far better at realising its objectives.
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2 Responses to And now for something ever-so-slightly different.

  1. Max Battcher says:

    I’m only familiar with Microserfs and Hamlet, of the listed works here. I like Hamlet, but I’ve always preferred the Bard’s comedies. Should I seek out The Gum Thief or Eleanor Rigby since you prefer them?

  2. That’s a tough question, and I suppose it depends a lot on how similar your tastes are to mine, and whether you’re at the right kind of point in your life to enjoy those particular stories. So I’d say pick them up if you’re interested in the synopses, but I can’t always guarantee you’ll agree with me.