|| Asymmetry | Writing | Generation X ||
Things that just seem wrong somehow: individual.com
Last week we went to hear Douglas Coupland read over in Brookline, so of course afterward I had to sit and flip through my copy of Generation X. It is something of a remarkable book, I think. Not that it was prophetically accurate or anythingas things turned out my generation seems to be doing pretty well for itself so farbut for the crystalline way it captured its time. Looking through it I find myself nodding, remembering, noting the places where I see myself reflected.
When we moved to Boston in 1995 things weren't looking so rosy. It took Dave two months to find even a crummy job. Housing costs were about 60% of what they are today and still seemed astronomical to us. We lived out of our suitcases for months, in a two-bedroom apartment with four other people, and our only furniture was a futon that smelled like fish when we bought it. Things are much better now, but I can read Generation X and remember when the future seemed a good deal bleaker.
The cultural commentary is also worthwhile, I think. Coupland is good observer, and he's carefully shown the way people of this generation think. The habitually ironic stance, fashion fetishism, continual self-reinvention, and carefully masked terror of loneliness (though that may be the lot of all of humanity), stand out among others in a deft sketch of the people I see around me.
I'm also re-reading Neuromancer right now, which is probably reinforcing the somewhat bleak late-80s mood, hinging it also does upon the fractured fears of a generation that didn't know better times were on the way. It really is a fantastic book. It's been a few years since I read it; half-way into the first chapter I remembered why the collective SF world sat up and said "WOW!" when it came out.
I do wonder, though, if either book will make sense to future generations, or if they will seem as removed as the classics of the Victorian age, relics of a completely different time? Weird to contemplate my own generation's eventual irrelevance when our best years, as traditionally defined, still lie ahead.
Yup, a bit bleak today. Winter blues, perhaps.
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Except where otherwise noted, all material on this site is © 1999 Rebecca J. Stevenson