2002 / december / 27

Coupland's compassion

Just finished Douglas Coupland's All Families are Psychotic at which I was pleasantly surprised. Yes, it's a rollercoaster-plot, hanging on unrealistic coincidences. Hell, it's a novel, not faction; and what really matters is, does he tell a story? He does, indeed, and masterfully.

But if it would've been just a story, I would have been very disappointed. This review from The Guardian comes pretty close, but misses the point, I think. It's not that the novel is a caricature despite the author sometimes displaying "some fondness for his less-caricatured creations" - quite the opposite. With the exception Howie, and maybe Florian, none of the major and minor characters are caricatures. They may seem so on introduction, or in the train of thought in others' thoughts. And hell, they struggle to get through their lives disappointments, and it helps to put a mask on. But the real strength of this novel, where it has the power to genuinely touch, is in the places where they break down, and face what's gnawing inside. Dropping the mask.
So what if the last fifty pages are a bit weak. Coupland has genuine compassion for his characters, using the form of the thriller to create the pretty extreme circumstances needed to crack them open, and especially the first twohundred pages, he's produced a genuine page-turner.

a new 28mm issue | main | flattery

Posted on 15:09, 27 december 2002.







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