Generation A by Douglas Coupland
December 3, 2010 16 Comments
Don’t think this is an old book! This one is from 2009. But you might be thinking of his 1991 book Generation X. Yes, the titles are very similar but as far as I know (I haven’t read Generation X) the books are unrelated.
Generation A: What it is about
In a very near future, all bees are extinct. At least, so it seems. People can only eat self-pollinating fruits and vegetables (dandelion has become popular) as there are no bees to do the job for them. Only very rich people can afford hand-pollinated foods.
Then, in the course of a few weeks, five people on different continents are stung by bees. This is such a rare event that it becomes widely known almost immediately when it happens and helicopters fly in to take away the stung person.
They end up in a research facility where they are checked for all kinds of possible reasons why they were stung and for possible effects of the sting.
The five main characters (the people that were stung) alternately relate what’s happening to them.
The reader is kept in the dark for a long time about what is really going on, but so are the people that were stung. The story ends quite differently from what I would have expected.
Generation A: What I thought
I have read several books by Coupland, and this one seemed quite “normal” for a long time. Some of his books are much weirder than this. Unfortunately, the end was stranger than I would have liked, but not all that odd for a Coupland novel.
I liked the writing style, it was very to the point. Not many words were spent on describing details. The writing style was also quite funny. Not laugh out loud funny, but entertainingly funny. I think this was because each character was telling their story in their own words without being polite or holding back.
I didn’t expect to find stories within the story, and certainly not such a large number of them (about 15 or so). Now, if I want to read short stories, I will find myself a short story book. Unfortunately, I didn’t want to read short stories and this was not a short story book.
So, at first I was taken aback. Then I tried to enjoy the stories which I succeeded in some of the time. Then it turned out that the stories slowly worked their way to the resolution of the novel and (almost) all was forgiven. But I still don’t like the idea of finding short stories in a novel.
I enjoyed the book a lot. The story was likely (up to a point) and bees being extinct is more than just a remote possibility. However, the reason the bees were extinct was, to say it mildly, somewhat farfetched.
Do you mind stories within a story?
I got this book: bought it from amazon.co.uk
I read this in: English, the original language
Number of pages: 297
First published: 2009
Genre: contemporary literary fiction, science fiction
Extra: Check out my review of Player One by Douglas Coupland.