This month, acclaimed author and zeitgeist-hound Douglas Coupland publishes his 11th novel, Generation A. In advance of the occasion, he took the opportunity in yesterday’s Guardian to jump into the Wayback Machine and talk about the book that made him famous two decades ago (which, in the hyper-jacked-up Coupland sensibility is tantamount to a couple of centuries….):
[I]t’s odd that Gen X was the thing that would change my life, because everything about the book reeked of disaster and bad decision-making. I’d only begun writing less than three years earlier “ non-fiction for magazines in Canada “ and I was soon hitting that point in life where poor decisions come back to bite one. I was at the end of my 20s and it was becoming clear to me that my 30s were going to be a continuing mix of rootlessness and poverty.
Thanks to an agent who was “a real huckster” (Coupland’s words), the author landed a sizable advance, which led to his own road-to-Damascus moment at (naturally) Davisville subway station in Toronto:
[O]ne afternoon in April of 1989, I was emerging from the Davisville subway station “ there had just been a rainstorm and the sunset was cold and tangerine “ and a wave swept over me, one of those waves that occur not too often in one’s lifetime. It was one of the few times I’ve ever heard “a voice” (whatever a voice really is), and the voice very clearly said to me: “OK, Doug. It appears that you’re going to be a full-time writer now. Good. But that means you have to write fiction rather than non-fiction, because fiction is purer. You’ll have to clear all your decks and you’re going to have to change the way you see both you and your future.”
And then the voice left, and I was just another guy standing on a wet sidewalk outside the Golden Griddle. But life was now different.
And the rest, as they say, is hipster history.