Coupland, Douglas

Vancouver native whose writing career began with a respectable advance of $22,500 for what was supposed to be a nonfiction book about his generation. Instead he delivered Generation X (1991), a well-observed, marginalia-heavy novel that limned the lives of three ironic underachievers adrift in the retirement hamlet of Palm Springs.

By 1995, the book–subtitled Tales for an Accelerated Culture–had grown from early word-of-mouth cult to cultural phenomenon, selling nearly 400,000 copies and naming a new youth culture era.

Coupland honed his minimal prose-style in the low-concept Shampoo Planet (1992) and Life After God (accompanied by MTV vignettes; declared one of 1994’s ten worst books by People magazine).     In 1995 Coupland published the more ambitious novel Microserfs (1995), which originated as a Wired magazine cover story about six preselected Microsoft employees.

With a keen eye for peripheral detail, and a heightened radar for colorful cultural memes (especially those derived from growing up watching ’70s television), Coupland confirmed his talent for imbuing background cultural radiation with human resonance.

By 1996, Coupland had stopped wishing for–and started exhibiting–a less media-scalded sensibility aiming for post-irony: 1996’s Polaroids from the Dead, a collection of Coupland’s magazine writing, was unexpectedly (and, to some critics, disappointingly) soulful.

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