Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Fiction: Generation A by Douglas Coupland

This is one of two important books with international implications and a strong presence of bees written by Canadian authors and published in the second half of 2009. The other is Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood. Interestingly enough, neither book received the attention it deserved at home: something I find inexplicable and, in a way, inexcusable. Both books have a lot to say and their authors manage to say it very, very well.

In a way, Generation A (Scribner/Random House Canada) brings the story Douglas Coupland began in 1991 with Generation X full circle. Where Generation X was completely concerned with a group of self-indulgent slackers, the five young protagonists of Generation A find themselves forced to be not only aware of the world and its problems, they must also be part of the solution. But this is Coupland, so the young people here do not sit smarmily by while hugging and singing “Kumbaya.” They are sharp, acerbic and sometimes slightly homicidal: another group of magnificently drawn Coupland youths.

This particular group have only one thing in common: in the not-so-distant future, in a world that is much less wonderful due to the complete absence of honey bees, each of the young people we meet have been stung by a bee. The stings are cause for consternation and study and the youths are whisked to secret facilities to be tested and evaluated. Then they are released and trouble ensues.

Coupland is, once again, at his very best here. These are big ideas boiled down tightly. He distills each thing to its very essence until we are left with a book that, on the surface of things, seems very simple: it’s easy to read, the language is uncomplicated, the chapters short, the concepts seemingly within our grasp. But Coupland is dealing -- once again and in his own distinctive and inimitable way -- with the important questions of our time. And -- once again -- he does not disappoint.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bees? I haven't seen these two books linked in quite that way! Looking forward to both of them.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009 at 11:44:00 AM PST  
Anonymous Colleen said...

I won a copy of Generation A a while ago but haven't gotten to it yet. I've also ordered Generation X since it's a Canada Reads selection. I'll probably read Generation X first.

Friday, December 4, 2009 at 7:13:00 AM PST  

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