Friday, June 9

"JPod" review on Boing Boing

I think everyone of my generation has heard of the book that named our generation, "Generation X" by Douglas Coupland. I accidentally discovered Douglas Coupland at a Barnes & Noble bookstore years ago. I was broke and looking for a discount book, and found his book "Microserfs" in a discount bin for $3, I think. I read through that book and immediately became a Coupland fan. I own all of his fiction and all of his non-fiction but one book and they sit in a special place on my bookshelves.

He has a new book out called "JPod", and Boing Boing has a review of the book. Here's an excerpt from that review:

JPod is a novel about how the novelty-seeking, irony-soaked, instant-nostalgia, gross-out culture of the Internet can corrode your soul, so that when you crack wise, there's nothing underneath it but more wisecracks. The book made me uncomfortable and sometimes even angry, but I never wanted to put it down, and it made me think hard about my own life and values.

Coupland's earlier books, like 1995's Microserfs, tell the stories of smart, committed young people working their guts out because they believe in the transformative power of technology, because their pure passion for technology unites them. These young people are exploited and have personal problems, but they overcome them by supporting one another -- finding ways outside of "enterprise IT" to use technology to make their lives better. They become entrepreneurs, activists, or artists, finding ways to create change where none had existed before.

But JPod has none of that. In JPod, the little brothers and sisters of Generation X slave away at a thinly-disguised EA Games in Vancouver, where marketdroids reward their slavish labor by heaping menial tasks on them, and perverting the games they make so that they're not even cool. None of these people will be a software millionaire. They are people who work sweatshop hours for lousy wages, burn out young, and go nowhere. They use Google and eBay to scour the globe for anything to make their lives meaningful. They don't find it.

Full text of review

I think everyone finds some kind of media, whether it's an artist or a musician or a writer, that finds a way to touch their soul. Douglas Coupland has articulated many different types of angst that I have experienced in my life and brings them to a clarity that has allowed me to analyze my true problems and feelings. His book "Life After God", specifically, the last short story in that book, changed my life. I know that this paragraph probably sounds overly dramatic, but unfortunately I have discovered in life that when the word "angst" is used in a paragraph, the entire entry gets a very involuntary "Dawson's Creek" type vibe. (I just dated myself, didn't I?) As the above reviewer also states, "... every generation will get a chance to experience some kind of wrack and roll."


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