Letter: Generation X: know it of old

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ZOE HELLER identifies 'the arch appreciation of retro kitsch' in Douglas Coupland's book Generation X ('American graffiti', Review, 31 July) but it's ironic that she should write of 'the rapid trajectory' of its title. 'Generation X' was used 30 years ago by Charles Hamblett and Jane Deverson as the title of their book about British teenagers. The catchphrase was reinvented by the Punks, became the name of a group, the title of a fanzine, and was painted on x thousand black leather jackets. Coupland's 'self-regarding' soundbites also bear a curious stylistic and thematic resemblance to the chapter headings of the earlier book: You can't enjoy yourself in church; I am alone like everyone else; Youth lives rather than plots; Most nights I just rot away etc. Heller criticises the 'soppily reiterated themes' - nuclear holocaust, problems with parents, and so on - in his latest book, but Coupland was already soppily reiterating this stuff in his 'original' Generation X. Even the 'fatuous slogans' on his latest dust-jacket resemble those on the cover of Hamblett and Deverson's book all those years ago. Each generation must invent itself, but then as the Buddhists say, 'I change. I remain the same'. And Buddhists believe in reincarnation.

Ian MacFadyen

London SW11

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