I always await the publication of a new Douglas Coupland novel with something approaching the anticipation of Christmas morning. I need it now now now and I can’t wait to open it and see what’s inside.
Thankfully, Generation A by Douglas Coupland is the greatest of gifts and one of the best books I have read in a long time. It may even top my current Coupland favourite, JPod.
Generation A is set in a world that is incredibly familiar to our own. But clearly quite a few things have changed. There are drugs we can take to slow down our lives. Things like apples are incredibly hard to come by. And bees are extinct.
That is, until five people, in different corners of the world get stung by five separate bees. The Wonka Children, so they call themselves, struggle to live in a world after they have become celebrity/freaks where, because of a bee sting, they become famous.
If it sounds bizarre, that’s because it is. And delightfully so.
The novel is told from the five points of view from the five sting victims. Don’t worry, the chapters are told in delightfully short bursts (no chapter over ten pages here, folks) to fit into our high tech life-style. When you’re on the run, your reading time is quick.
Coupland manages to cram some incredible things into those short chapters. After reading Generation A, I’ve been exposed to nakedness, religion, voyerism, different religious beliefs, call centres, references to the Simpsons (Mmmmm….honey), parody’s of American culture, the point and purpose life, whether it is better to believe in a higher power versus not, the ideas and fundamentals of what makes people real.
I could go on.
It is a delightful mental marathon that makes me want to keep up. It is such an intelligent piece of writing and it reads like Dan Brown on crack. I mean that in a very good way. Think of Hunter S Thompson mixed with Oscar Wilde, Margaret Atwood, Carol Shelds and Jack Kerouack.
It is an incredibly environmental book, but it is also a very intense look at our culture and our dependence on media and media devices. It is about our dependence on a lot of things. It is wonderfully funny and humorous and at the same time rather grim and mysterious.
In short, it is a joy.