Meeting Mr Generation X
As we were all milling around in the foyer of the Bloomsbury Theatre, I spotted someone I knew – not a common phenomenon for me in London. By “knew”, I mean I thought this person might be the brother of an ex-housemate. I´d only met him once before, years ago – the brother, not the ex-housemate – but like, we are “friends” too, on the interweb. And the person across the room from me, did bear a striking resemblance to the profile pic of my “friend”, TX.
I was at a book reading by Douglas Coupland. Would TX go to a Douglas Coupland reading, I wondered idly? Based upon my limited knowledge of his personality, I reflected that he very well might. Would a Douglas Coupland reading be the kind of gathering where it was likely I would bump into someone I only knew vaguely through the interweb? For sure!
I ended up sitting a row in front of the person whom may or may not have been TX, and finally said hello and inquired as to his identity. It was indeed TX, and there was just enough time to check out some pictures of his cutie-pie progeny before Coupland took the stage.
He was reading from his latest novel, The Gum Thief. At first, I was disappointed. I mean, this guy looked older than my parents (for the record, he isn´t). And he read in a soothing monotone, with the emphasis on “monotone” rather than “soothing”. But gradually I began to realise this style suited the sterile and pre-packaged world his characters inhabit.
I read two-thirds of the book while I was sitting in the queue to have it signed (for the record, I read the rest in the tube on my way home). And what I do love about reading Coupland, is that almost every line is a fridge quote. But part of me can´t help feeling, at least in his latest offering, that´s all there is to it: an assortment of sentences and phrases that would make me laugh out loud each morning if I had bothered to copy them down and stick them on my fridge. But I didn´t, and now I can´t remember a single line, and I don´t really care.
Typically of Coupland, The Gum Thief contains characters who struggle to break free of their McJobs; sadly, this results in little more than fast-food literature. Don´t get me wrong – I loved reading the novel. But there weren´t any new flavours; only reprocessed ideas and characters that left me, if not exactly unsatisfied, then certainly unaffected. Perhaps this is the point?
Literary groupie that I am, it was still fun to have my book signed. And Douglas Coupland called me “glamorous”, even though I was only dressed in jeans and I had been unable to reapply my lipstick for fear of losing my place in the queue. But then he ruined any advantage gained through his flattery by drawing a sparkly heart in my book, which was a trifle disturbing.