“Generation A mirrors 1991's Generation X.” It says so, right there on the back jacket. I read that and figured if Douglas Coupland was returning, in some measure, to the book that inflated him into what he is now, I was keen to read the by-product (A).
I don't usually mark up my books, but three pages into Generation A I felt compelled to take the lid off my Roller-Ball and write, neatly, in the margin: “How can a guy who is almost 50 years old write a book populated by characters so fastidiously stuck in their single 20s?”
I was off to a bad start, but for the first time in years I forced myself to keep going with a book I wasn't enjoying. Unfortunately my mood only got worse.
The proper thing to do is review the book that was written, and not the book I wish was written. But man-oh-man: do I ever wish this was a different book. I picked up Gen A wondering what had happened to those characters I related so strongly to in 1992. Did they finally plug in? Were any of them in a family way? Were they maybe not quite so nervous, smart and medicated? How had they (or characters similar to them) navigated the last 18 years? Now that they, in all likelihood, had the mortgages (etc.) that eluded them in '91, what did they think of their prospects? Let's call this fictional exercise "Coupland channels Updike" — wouldn't that be cool?
That's not the book I've got. And I'm realizing, as I finally put this novel to rest, that I'm at a point where I very much prefer Coupland's interviews and non-fiction to his fiction. He's a clever guy, frequently witty and prescient. But his fiction just ain't working for me anymore.