Friday, 20 May 2011

Douglas Coupland

I have a while (thirty minutes) before my little girl wakes up to blog so I will limit my self to a quick overview of why I like Coupland's writing and what I have read and enjoyed.

Like any favorite author there is usually a favorite book and this is true for me, "girl friend in a coma" is that book (I am a little behind on my reading):

For any Smiths fans you will get the referance. I don't want to add a spoiler in here but I would say it would make an ideal book club resource for a group which wanted to explore faith and hope as well as thinking about how suffering and responsibility can affect individuals and society.

Why did I start reading Coupland? Well it was all the business of Gen X the term which he popularised (though it was a term in use before then see wiki for a short overview). I encountered the term in reading Youthwork magazine it is one of my little quirks that I am interested in phrases we pick up (hence why I am reading catch 22, why I read 1984 & Animal Farm; just read the KJV of the Bible and see how much of it is still in use 'skin of the teeth' etc) and so I read his book; it was fascinating and had me hooked, he paints vivid pictures of the mundane reality of life for most people, and the books seem grounded in reality (Microserfs another of his books came to mind after watching the social network). Sociologists may lump whole generations into one category but growing up in a Christian home as I did, seems increasingly counter cultural to both modern and post modern ideas (again I only did 6 months of sociology at GCSE so I am no expert and a degree in religious studies and half way through ordination I am still debating where Modernity finishes and PoMo begins). But with each novel he writes he manges to capture a little of the essence of life today:

A specific feature of Coupland's novels is their synthesis of postmodern religion, Web 2.0 technology, human sexuality, and pop culture. (Wikipedia).
There I have done it first quote from Wiki in my blog it was guaranteed to come! In this instance I have to agree, he is a talented social commentator, maybe in fiction you can be far more subversive in your critic of modern consumerism. I have enjoyed each of his books and now as a blogger they seem even more readable than before. Some of his books don't age as well as others but that is because of the fads and fashions which make up much of our culture but we still use McJob as an expression.

I have listed some of his publications (He has also written some non-fiction stuff too):

I think this links into my way of reading the world (far more by observation than text book). It also explains why I like Dylan, The Manics and Springsteen and it probably informs the way I do theology as the greatest story teller in the world was Jesus Christ, just look at the parables which have transformed lives and nations, spawned endless books, art and preaching. To be fair Coupland can't compete with the Son of God and neither can I (just check my assignment grades) just reflect on the resurrection, it blows your mind and the power is unlike anything else but could I suggest that he is one of the prophets of our age?

Have a think about that...

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