Monday, 03 March 2008

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.


RK said...

Mmm, can't decide what to make of the following clause: "almost every line is a fridge quote." Is that a backhand?

I tried Generation X, when I could still reasonably be considered 'in tune' (27 or so), and couldn't understand the fuss. Was I old then already?

TM said...

Ja, some sort of backhand (my tennis has never been that good, so it might not have been a particularly strong one).

There isn´t much to make a fuss about, I don´t think. Pop culture, blah, boring. DC doesn´t particularly strike me as being "in tune".

Bec said...

Completely in agreement about the fridge quote aspect, which is precisely why I LOVED Gen X and then have become progressively more disenchanted ever since, to the point where my love affair with Dougie is officially over. But I still have have a softspot for GX.

Beccy said...

I remember going to the movies for the first time in London, and realising, with a pendulum swing between freedom and horror, that I would not know anyone there! I think people who have never been acclimatised to the movies in Grahamstown could ever understand this feeling. I mean in Jo'burg or Durban, one could meet someone one knows, or not, as the case might be. And either way it is fine. Grahamstown to London is a shock.