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Reader’s Den

April in the Reader's Den - "You Know Nothing of My Work!" by Douglas Coupland, Week 4


Primarlly I chose You Know Nothing of My Work! to highlight in the Reader's Den because I am a huge fan of its author, Douglas Coupland. He is famous for being associated with the phrase Generation X*, now a term nearly as well known as Marshall McLuhan's "global village." Coupland is the author of Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, among numerous other works of fiction and non-fiction.

Coupland's got chops as one of the great satirists of consumerism, social media, and pop culture for our times — a true disciple of Marshall McLuhan. Microserfs (1995) is a novel that paints a flourescent-lit portrait of the cubicle-driven lives of Microsoft employees. In fact most Coupland novels are set in seemingly mundane locations, such as the cast of characters that work at the store Staples in The Gum Thief (2007).

Moving furtively into the science fiction genre, Generation A (2009) takes place in the near future, in a world where bees no longer exist; except when five seemingly unconnected people from all over the world are stung, they are brought together, exploited in a media frenzy, then ferreted away to a remote Canadian island by a scientist with dubious motives. 

It's just a theory, but I'd like to think Coupland's droll style of writing has profoundly impacted both film and television over the last two decades, with the success of shows such as The OfficeThe IT Crowd, and the proliferation of mumblecore filmmaking.

Thanks for following along in the Reader's Den! Stay tuned for next month's selection — The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet by David Mitchell.

AND — please join us for some LIVE booktalking at the Mulberry Street Library Book Discussion group. We meet the last Wednesday of the month at 6pm. We will be discussing Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh on Wednesday April 25th, 2012 at 6pm. 

*The actual credit for this phrase might go to Kurt Vonnegut, from a 1994 Commencement speech at Syracuse University. "Now you young twerps want a new name for your generation? Probably not, you just want jobs, right? Well, the media do us all such tremendous favors when they call you Generation X, right? Two clicks from the very end of the alphabet. I hereby declare you Generation A, as much at the beginning of a series of astonishing triumphs and failures as Adam and Eve were so long ago."


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