Answer The Questions! Douglas Coupland - it's the new Gen X

Interview,Sean O'Connell
Thursday 12 September 2013 02:21

Douglas Coupland, 41, coolly sauntered onto centre stage with his first novel, Generation X, in 1991. A quirky, witty tale of overeducated and underemployed twentysomethings, it won him a global fan base. His other works include Girlfriend in a Coma and All Families Are Psychotic. His latest novel, Hey Nostradamus!, explores the aftermath of a high-school massacre in Vancouver, his home town.

Just what is it with you and God?

My big worry isn't whether He exists, but rather, if He's particularly interested in people. We're quite presumptuous.

If you were given the Superbowl commercial break to plug Hey Nostradamus!, what would you do with the airtime?

I like those audience participation events they have in North Korea, where everybody in the stands holds up a card and a photo of Kim Jong-il II appears. Well, in North Korea, "audience participation" probably isn't the correct phrase.

Generation X got lucky: at least they could articulate their discontent with the world without it sounding boring. Now if people in their early twenties complain about their empty lives nobody gives a damn. "Yeah, we've read that book and heard it already," they cry. Do you feel guilty?

Of course not, but it's been 13 years since I wrote that book. Surely the texture of urban discontent must have changed. At the very least they should be

You have a tremendous ability to observe the interesting and enchanting in the everyday...

Why thank you.

What do you think of cardboard?

I think you're being facetious, but you shouldn't be. In the art world there isn't a single mode of expression where cardboard isn't a big help, from model making to shipping to Warhol's Brillo Box. Oddly, when I was involved in a film project, I had to figure out what people would be framing and putting on their walls in 50 years, flattened cardboard boxes was the winning idea. They're quite beautiful. And framed, they're stunning.

People say that Vancouver is the best American city that America doesn't have. What do you think they mean and do you agree?

American? Vancouver? I think not. Vancouver confuses Americans because it has all the things they're trained to fear and fight (pot, strippers who take it all off, gay weddings, a non-litigious aura...) and yet for livability, Vancouver is far ahead of the US's nearest contender, (say, Seattle), and has none of the infrastructure nightmares. Where is the fear? Where are the locusts and toads falling from the sky?

You're at a house party: where's your favourite spot to loiter?

I don't go to parties, can't stand them. Clubs, either - to the point where I can't even consider answering this question. It's like asking someone Amish what their favourite video game is.

Your books always have a very youthful feel. At what point do you think you'll start writing about people whose primary concerns are mortgages and tax returns?

Hmm... Did you read All Families Are Psychotic? All that and more.

You're confined to a cell for a couple of days with a book of your choice. What would it be and why?

Probably The Andy Warhol Diaries, because then I could at least pretend I was having real days.

What's next?

Old age. Neglect. Death. And right now, a trip to the liquor store to get some boxes.

'Hey Nostradamus!' is published by Flamingo, £15.99

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