it's best when reading douglas Coupland to treat his novels as cultural theory that happens to take the form of a narrative.Since christening the post-boomer generation in Generation X, he has analyzed and deconstructed contemporary culture without resorting to simplified political interpretation. He portrays his subjects sympathetically, because he always includes himself as a member of the North American middle class he critiques.
All Families Are Psychotic takes the format of the crime caper in order to look at the dysfunctional family.
Touching on AIDS, genetic engineering, the anonymity of the Internet and the death of Princess Di, Coupland seems obsessed with recording the zeitgeist of the 00s. This time, the tale is told mainly through the eyes of a 67-year-old woman.
Following the misadventures surrounding the Drummond family reunion, organized around daughter Sarah's space shuttle flight, Coupland also examines the weirdness of Florida.
Smartly avoiding trailer trash clichés, he makes the reader feel close to the family even when it emerges that gunplay, smuggling and wife swapping are normal occurrences. And no matter how over-the-top things get as the bizarre plot twists unfold, the emotions ring true.
This is a fast, easy read that you immediately want to pick up again in order to figure out which layers you missed the first time through.
While some of his characters never really progress beyond a sketch, the main ones are vividly human, and they're all disturbingly familiar.
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All Families Are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland (Random House), 279 pages, $34.95 cloth. Rating: NNNN