Since I’m supposedly trying to write a Douglas Coupland-like novel for NaNoWriMo I’ve recently picked up Generation X. I first read this book back in the early 1990s, soon after its original publication. At the time, it was like windexing a heavy film off of my eyes and looking at the world with a clear view for the first time, but, of course, in a hip, ironic, and distanced way. Reading it now, 15 years later, is almost painful. Whereas before the insights into contemporary life were piercingly funny and cool, they now seem depressingly accurate and all too familiar.
Another way to put it: When I read the book at age 20 (approx.) it was funny because it described the lives of others. Reading the book now is not so funny because it describes my own life to a much more disturbing degree.
That’s not to say I’m as cool, hip, detached, ironic, glib, witty, cynical, or poverty jet setted as Dag, Claire, and Andrew. Far from it. It’s just that the world described seems less distant, more immediate, and therefore more scary and depressing.
One sign of how the book slays me: It describes my entire life in a single sentence defining a single word:
Overboarding: Overcompensating for fears about the future by plunging headlong into a job or life-style seemingly unrelated to one’s previous life interests, i.e., Amway sales, aerobics, the Republican party, a career in law, cults, McJobs….
Shot through the heart, and I’m to blame…