This has to be one of the worst books I’ve read in a while.
Imagine a 14-year-old kid, who’s only ever read C.S. Lewis books, getting contracted by Disney to write an adaptation of a Bret Easton Ellis novel, but like, with heart.
Plus, the central message of the book (which gets thrown in your face over and over again) is completely deluded and is basically rooted in the same middle-class, North American, navel-gazing docility/nostalgia/cultural amnesia that it’s supposedly battling against.
Here is my synopsis of every Doug Coupland book, ever.
Character A: You remember that Thing*? I remember that Thing.
Character B: I remember that Thing also.
Character A: Our shared rememberance of that Thing constitutes a lasting and real human connection!
Character C: And hey, you know what’s fucking hard? Growing as a person and finding out who I am. Because, who I am is like, well, do you remember that very special Christmas episode of Three’s Company, where Jack puts a plant on his head? It was like, you know, the shitty season, after Suzanne Sommers was replaced by Priscilla Barnes? Anyways, that’s what it’s like to hate my job so much? Did I mention I hate my job?
Character A (aside to B): I never watched after Suzanne Sommers left. It just like, when she left, my childhood seemed to evaporate? You know? How stuff was better? In the past?
Character B: I have contempt for and reverence for the same bits of cultural bric-a-brac that you do. This means love. Do you remember when Things meant things?
Reader, along with Characters A&B&C: Yes, we remember when Things meant things! Boy, did I ever have a lot of feelings, once upon a time!
A&B: Let us go forth and use our memories of feelings we once had about Things as a lazy shorthand for actual meaningful connection. That way, neither of us has to grow. The past was really neat, don’t you think? Let’s live there, because our shitty jobs make it too hard to live in the present, and thinking of a way out is just like, totes a bummer.
Character C: Wait! I have a confession: I am fearful of nuclear weapons. Also, cancer makes me sad.
Narrator: Aren’t we all a little sad about cancer? And nuclear bombs? I mean, those are sad things. Sad like when they got rid of the pirate from the McDonald’s Happy Meal Gang because he was too scary.
New York Times Magazine: Trend piece!
All: We always liked the pirate the best! McDonalds does not understand our generation!
Narrator: You should probably be feeling things right now. If not, maybe try downloading an Amish person into your iPhone?
* Wherein THING= Hiroshima, limited edition Joy Division record, episode of the Smurfs, short-lived pseudo-obscure sitcom from the ’80s, 8-track tapes.
I remember being the target demographic for Douglas Coupland books and reading a bunch of them, but I can’t remember what any of them were about.