Gen X, which some have termed that generation, is 30 now. That didn’t stop celebrated author Douglas Coupland, who had great success in the ’90s with novels including “Goblin Market” and “Girl With a Pearl Earring,” from creating his own time-travel novel as part of his birthday celebration.
Coupland’s life is the focal point of the book “Generation X: Tales from Our Time,” which hit shelves Wednesday. The 44-year-old Canadian uses an autobiographical format to write about the travails of some “stepping stones” – not necessarily with the intent of seeking fame or fortune – in their lives.
The book, in translation from the U.K., is what booksellers describe as “on-brand” for Coupland, a man whose unique brand of writing is described by Publishers Weekly as filled with images of self-sufficiency and scrappiness.
Among the self-written characters and struggling writer Coupland adopts are:
A painter named Joe Slaughter, who explains his struggle in one early scene by recounting how he bounced back from a major disappointment by walking in a musky fog – “I didn’t even care about walking – I went down anyway.” Later in the book, Slaughter shows up at a theme park with dreams of wooing a woman there. “Once you find your place as a townie, there’s no letting go,” he tells her.
A woman named Allison Broderick, who is introduced in an eight-page summary stating that she “is bearing her child like it is her last.” The unborn child, she writes, will “prove that she is living every minute like it is her last.”
A narrator named Greta Tilling, whose gritty experiences mirror those of her real-life counterpart, whose previous stories consist of chapters from the novella “Greta Tilling.” Tilling portrays her younger self as brave and funny, albeit one who “comes off as someone who’s been going through things her whole life and hoping that the day she comes of age will be easier.”
A person named Zach, who’s a tailor and clothing designer who is trying to make his dream a reality but runs into problems because he has an extremely noisy roommate.
This is Coupland’s second attempt at telling a fictional narrative about the post-millennial generation, and the end result in his last novel, “The Art of Fielding,” was a largely inaccessible concoction about a struggling college student.