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Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture Paperback – March 15, 1991

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin; 1st edition (March 15, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031205436X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312054366
  • Product Dimensions: 7.8 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Newcomer Coupland sheds light on an often overlooked segment of the population: "Generation X," the post-baby boomers who must endure "legislated nostalgia (to force a body of people to have memories they do not actually own)" and who indulge in "knee-jerk irony (the tendency to make flippant ironic comments as a reflexive matter of course . . . )." These are just two of the many terse, bitterly on-target observations and cartoons that season the margins of the text. The plot frames a loose Decameron -style collection of "bedtime stories" told by three friends, Dag, Andy and Claire, who have fled society for the relative tranquility of Palm Springs. They fantasize about nuclear Armageddon and the mythical but drab Texlahoma, located on an asteroid, where it is forever 1974. The true stories they relate are no less strange: Dag tells a particularly haunting tale about a Japanese businessman whose most prized possession, tragically, is a photo of Marilyn Monroe flashing. These stories, alternatively touching and hilarious, reveal the pain beneath the kitschy veneer of 1940s mementos and taxidermied chickens.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc.


"A groundbreaking novel."--The Los Angeles Times

"Captures the listlessness that accompanies growing up in today's info-laden culture."--Rolling Stone

"Amusingly explores the more restless and disaffected segment of the under-30 crowd."--Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A readable and valid account of a generation that envisions a completely new genuine genre of bohemianism."--San Francisco Chronicle

Customer Reviews

Douglas Coupland coined the term "Generation X" with this novel.
Amazon Customer
Sometimes latent consternation and cynicism appears between the lines with these characters more than they are presented in an explicit way.
K. Johnson
I love the idea of living my life through a story, because we all want our lives to have meaning.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

46 of 48 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on January 12, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Being a member of said generation, I've always been reluctant to read this book. I've heard it described as brilliant, flawed, pretentious, irritating, moving, and plastic. I think that 'charming' and 'smart' are the two words that best define it for me, even though it's hard not to see its flaws.
A series of stories about a group of young people in Palm Springs, telling each other stories while they work pointless McJobs and glory in cultural wreckage. The book's strength is mostly in its moments-- the definitions and epigrams on the margins of the pages, the stories that the characters tell each other, and the tiny observational zingers about the American nature that are the hallmark of Coupland's writing.
I'm glad I read it.
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33 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 1, 1999
Format: Paperback
Gorgeous and funny, this book has really got something intangible that can't be captured by the trillions of Time and Newsweek articles about the slacker generation and this, their "Bible."
It is a fairy tale type book with a set of post-modern lessons, taught by twentysomething, burned-out friends. It is just right for anyone who's grown up next to a nuclear power plant and freaked out when they test the meltdown sirens, or for anyone who has been stuck in an awful temp gig and fantasized about dropping out to work at a McDonalds and drink gin at noon. There is just something so appealing about the journey of the protagonists that you can read it and feel like you've escaped from life too.
Always funny, very ironic, and filled with droll slang ripe for appropriation, this book is a fantastic vacation on paper.
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20 of 20 people found the following review helpful By ewomack TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
The media, always groping for sound bites to make generalizations more palatable, grabbed the title of Coupland's first novel and ran with it like an Olympic torch. Henceforth, anyone born between the late 1950s and the early 1970s were dubbed "Generation Xers". Obviously this media hype boosted the novel's visibility to heights it may otherwise not have reached (the book had difficulty finding a publisher in Coupland's home country of Canada). It also created a rather false generalization of its own. One based on a misunderstanding of a literary device. Fiction may have created fiction in this case.

Coupland claims that he never intended to speak for his own, or any, generation in this book. He took the "X" in the title from Paul Fussell's hilarious and intentionally inflammatory book "Class". In its final chapter, called "The X Way Out", Fussell discusses people who attempt to evade the rigid American class system. These people attempt to work outside this system and avoid, in Fussell's words, "...some of the envy and ambition that pervert so many." Arguably, Coupland's "Generation X" presents portraits of three "X people": Andy, Dag, and Claire (Coupland uses this phrase only twice in the book in tandem with the Japanese phrase "shin jin rui" or "X generation" which represents a generation "purposefully hiding itself"). They have escaped (though not completely) by moving to Palm Springs and working less ambitious jobs than their school mates. They also share stories with one another on a regular basis. Why they do this gets printed explicitly in the following passage from the book's first chapter: "Either our lives become stories, or there's just no way to get through them.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By joshawk on August 2, 1999
Format: Paperback
"Generation X" is not great literature. It's not a handbook for any particular generation, nor is it at all a bad read. The book, published almost ten years ago, tells the story of three people in their 20s who have left their high-paying jobs to hang out in Palm Springs and tell stories. The title has been appropriated by every aspect of the media to label a group of people it wasn't even intended for. I don't think that's what Coupland had in mind when he wrote it, nor do I believe he ever suspected that this simple piece of fiction would draw such venom from people who expect it to be some kind of mystical guide, then label it "pretentious" and "boring" when it doesn't meet their expectations. "Generation X" is to me a highly entertaining, humorous, sometimes frustrating tome...all the qualities I look for in a good book. It may not be the 90s "Catcher in the Rye," but it did speak to me.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 11, 2001
Format: Paperback
Douglas Coupland is a superb writer that seems to always know the right words at the right time. This particular novel Generation X, goes deep into the lives of three young people that are searching for some meaning in their lives, for a simple explanation. Andy, Dag, and Claire work worthless jobs, known as McJob's. A McJob is, "A low-pay, low prestige, low-dignity, low benefit, no-future job in the service sector. Frequently considered a satisfying career choice by people who have never held one." The three are overeducated young people who have fled to the California desert to try to capture some concept of life in their little bungalows. While searching, they manage to create a unique lifestyle that is different and intriguing in its own way. They drink like there is no tomorrow and they love to tell stories. A hot story topic choice is the end of the world, usually with nuclear weapons or the atomic bomb. It gives you enough of each of their lives to be jealous.
Andy, the protagonist, is a very realistic and plausible character. He does nothing that is unfathomable. The novel is based on complete formula fiction, and has an original plot that must be interpreted. It stays away from the Hollywood stereotype theme, the boy meets girl, fall in love, etc... The theme is developed with an apparent meaning. Coupland openly shares and describes his views on what consumerism has become in America. He talks about how our culture today gives us nothing to go on, and how we sometimes feel alienated. Therefore, we are a society based on consumerism because it is the only thing that is given to us to identify ourselves with. Andy, Claire, and Dag create their own lifestyle in the desert because of how they are excluded from the outside world. People can only identify themselves by what they posses, and how much of it. It is an unfortunate problem that has appeared in America's society that is trapping young adults.
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