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Design On Demand
September 3, 2009 8:28 AM   Subscribe

Douglas Coupland wants you to design your own cover for his new book, Generation A.
posted by The Whelk (41 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Disclaimer: I was the only 16 year old in New Jersey with a Douglas Coupland crush.
posted by The Whelk at 8:29 AM on September 3, 2009


For someone with Coupland crush, you sure linked to a pretty cutting review of his new book (and, in as much as that review could--with minimal revision--be describing any of his more recent books, Coupland himself).
posted by 256 at 8:36 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Interesting timing. It's been years since I last read Coupland, but am just about to finish Microserfs as my 'I'm sick and want something easy and fun and familiar'-reading.

I love and hate his writing in equal measure. Ultimately more the former than the latter. I think that review captures, in part, what I find offputting about his writing, but like always, I'll probably end up reading Generation A when I get a copy as a gift or a loaner. I don't think I've ever actually purchased one of his books, though I've read several and own three...
posted by slimepuppy at 8:50 AM on September 3, 2009


you sure linked to a pretty cutting review of his new book

To be fair, I don't remember the last time I saw a good review of a Coupland book... I mean, I've missed a great deal of them, but I've seen so many reviews where it struck me that the reviewer just didn't get it. I got very angry with one in Private Eye for Jpod, wherein they seemed to have never read his work before, and I could see the person in question getting just as frustrated trying to read something like Microserfs, which surely no one can slate...

I just avoid reviews of his work and get on with loving his writing, and having been to a reading at the book festival the other night and gotten Miss Wyoming signed ('cause I couldn't find Microserfs or Girlfriend in a Coma) I am rather looking forward to Generation A.
posted by opsin at 8:52 AM on September 3, 2009


I love his early work. Everything since that post-apocalyptic novel, not so much.
posted by oddman at 8:54 AM on September 3, 2009


So next: Write your own book.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:58 AM on September 3, 2009


I've been surfing with Coupland since the beginning, or so it seems, and I love his writing. I haven't read nearly enough of it, I think. I'm interested to see what this new book is like. I agree that the review you've linked to is probably the worst possible review to post to the front page of the Blue if you're hoping to draw new readers into his work. However, Coupland may be one of those authors, if you didn't "get" him 20 years ago, chances are you won't "get" him at all.

Now I'm off to Book Mooch to see if I can round out my library. I'm shockingly behind on his stuff, I just found out!
posted by hippybear at 8:59 AM on September 3, 2009


It's not in Verdana?
posted by ardgedee at 9:00 AM on September 3, 2009


Douglas Coupland wants you to design your own cover* for his new book, Generation A.

While Stephen Abell would be fine if simply made a pile of them and set the lot on fire.

*Within the parameters of the web application. I would have preferred a PDF you could mark up to your heart's desire.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:07 AM on September 3, 2009


Coupland does occupy an odd space in the cultural landscape. A "serious thinker" who's actually popular (ie: his name sells stuff).

I happened to be a friend of one of his older brothers in high school, and as such knew Doug peripherally, which has always made it hard for me to have what I consider a clear opinion of his work. I just know (or think I do) too much about the various back-stories of various of his characters (particularly when he's dealing with family, which he often does).

That said, at the risk of generalizing, I do think there's a serious lack of FUN in pretty much all of his protagonists lives. Nobody ever drinks except when depressed. Nobody ever goes to a night club and has a blast dancing. Nobody ever gets high with a bunch of friends and laughs all night watching old Dr. Who episodes. Nah, it's stay home alone and listen to the Smiths, or maybe the Cure.
posted by philip-random at 9:13 AM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


Sounds like he is worried that without a gimmick people might forget to mention his new book.

Never a good sign.
posted by paisley henosis at 9:13 AM on September 3, 2009


Best thing about Coupland: he wrote a great book.
Worst thing about Coupland: he keeps writing it over and over again.
posted by rokusan at 9:18 AM on September 3, 2009 [5 favorites]


First I appear on the cover of Time magazine and now this! The 21st century is AWESOME.
posted by grouse at 9:20 AM on September 3, 2009


The future of ALL media: Here's a box of crayons. Make your own novel/tv show/movie/song/etc.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:21 AM on September 3, 2009


How much does it pay?
posted by Eideteker at 9:25 AM on September 3, 2009


Is it a crime to have had a crush on somebody and then in later life link to a cutting review? Am I missing something? I mean, I was the only 16-year-old in Southern California with a crush on John Updike (or at least his writing). Does this mean I should never link to a scathing review of Updike?

Add: Isn't every article in the Telegraph scathing? Its crosswords and sudokus are scathing.
posted by blucevalo at 9:26 AM on September 3, 2009 [2 favorites]


For anyone who doesn't know, the Telegraph is a notoriously grumpy right wing old person's newspaper, and would never give a good review to anything remotely "fashionable" or "modern" (let alone postmodern).
posted by Major Tom at 9:43 AM on September 3, 2009


Can I mention here that I'm nearly in Microserfs and that Coupland keeps naming his protagonists after me? Anyway, I look forwards to this book but per rokusan, I worry I've read it already.

Also: jpod the TV show was pretty great. Shame they cancelled it.
posted by GuyZero at 9:58 AM on September 3, 2009


I was the only 16-year-old in Southern California with a crush on John Updike (or at least his writing). Does this mean I should never link to a scathing review of Updike?

We all stab our childish selves in the heart eventually. This is the human experience.
posted by rokusan at 10:01 AM on September 3, 2009


Waiting for hellojed to show up.
posted by bertrandom at 10:27 AM on September 3, 2009


We all stab our childish selves in the heart eventually. This is the human experience.

I disagree with this. I was a huge Yes fan as a kid, 14 and onward ... until they started to suck in 1980s. I have no problem acknowledging this ... but I still love their 70s stuff (71-75 in particular), and feel no compulsion to stab it (or that younger part of myself) in the heart, or anywhere else for that matter.

The child is not always wrong.
posted by philip-random at 10:34 AM on September 3, 2009


I agree that YES pretty much fell apart post 90215. Sad that they managed to create a really good meld of prog and pop, and then dissolve into the awfulness that was Magnification and all those stupid Keys albums. Open Your Eyes has, maybe 2 good songs on it. Ironically, that tour, they played EVERY track off of Fragile (not in order, dammit), and only one or two other tracks from their entire career.

Have you heard the 5.1 mix of Fragile yet? Stunning. Simply stunning.

I do find it difficult to compare All Families Are Psychotic with Shampoo Planet. There has been some very obvious progress between those two books.
posted by hippybear at 10:40 AM on September 3, 2009


They've set that cover design up so rigidly that it's not really possible to create something that looks any better (or significantly different) from the original. Seems like kind of a waste, doesn't it?
posted by echo target at 10:52 AM on September 3, 2009


This years surprise V&A Illustration Awards for best book cover went to Time's 2006 man of the year...
posted by BrotherCaine at 11:01 AM on September 3, 2009


I thought The Gum Thief was really solid, after the previous couple were only okay. I didn't know he had a new one, and since I've dutifully read all his novels, I will probably check it out.
posted by statolith at 11:06 AM on September 3, 2009


Which is interesting as he was a graphic designer in his previous life.

Also, I think his stylistic influence is enormous. He practically invented blogging, like, ten years before it was a gleam in Jorn Barger's eye.
posted by johnny novak at 11:19 AM on September 3, 2009


Interesting. Coupland is known for being very particular about his book covers. An old graphic design teacher of mine used him as an example of the rule that the less skilled the writer, the more control they want over how their covers look.
posted by rottytooth at 11:32 AM on September 3, 2009


Well, to be fair, I think Coupland was a visual artist first, and came into book writing later.
posted by hippybear at 12:18 PM on September 3, 2009


Which is interesting as he was a graphic designer in his previous life.

to be fair, I think Coupland was a visual artist first

That makes sense. I wasn't aware of that.
posted by rottytooth at 12:45 PM on September 3, 2009


Disclaimer: I was the only 16 year old in New Jersey with a Douglas Coupland crush.

No. No you weren't.

I'm so dreading Generation A. The last time one of his books was marketed as an update of one of his previous books, I hated it. jPod was so, so vapid. And I love Microserfs. But Microserfs had heart. jPod had a bunch of shallow people prattling on about pop culture. Because apparently, if reviewers or the public only talk about the superficial features of your books, you should really only focus on those in your writing. The Telegraph review doesn't make me feel much better about Generation A.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:12 PM on September 3, 2009


Interesting. Coupland is known for being very particular about his book covers. An old graphic design teacher of mine used him as an example of the rule that the less skilled the writer, the more control they want over how their covers look.

Funny, I find him to be a pretty strong writer on the prose-level, particularly in his descriptions. I always thought that might have had something to do with his graphic design experience.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 1:13 PM on September 3, 2009


Well, I've read everything the man has put out so far -- that makes me sound like a rabid fan, but really, I just discovered early on that I like his writing voice and kept with it... only to discover that it's his only voice, and moreover, it's his voice. Reading his City of Glass, I realized he'd been writing in his own voice all along, and from then on I wasn't able to really immerse myself in his characters. His own personality always came through.

Like him more than most, though. A lot more.

Also: from Emily Carr to Hokkaido college of art and design? I am insanely jealous.
posted by Durn Bronzefist at 3:18 PM on September 3, 2009


Jesus, is it 1991 again? Douglas Coupland? Can we have a Tama Janowitz post next, huh?
posted by cropshy at 4:14 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


I loved Generation X when it came out. I loved 90215, and still do. Everything since, from Coupland or from Yes? Not so much.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 5:44 PM on September 3, 2009


Modern Handicrafts with Douglas Coupland has been a big hit around the office lately.
posted by furtive at 7:11 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]


filthy light thief: I would have preferred a PDF you could mark up to your heart's desire.

It looks like the gallery emits jpegs. So. You could probably (re)build a PDF fairly quickly.
posted by Pronoiac at 7:13 PM on September 3, 2009


And this strikes me as an interesting tool, at least.
posted by Pronoiac at 7:22 PM on September 3, 2009


I am really, really hoping the design-your-own-cover edition doesn't remain in my memory long after the book, which I'm excited about and will buy and read. I haven't loved anything since Miss Wyoming, but I keep trying because he wrote six novels I did love and I kind of had him in the role of imaginary boyfriend for a long time and yes, I know, I know.

Well, I've read everything the man has put out so far -- that makes me sound like a rabid fan, but really, I just discovered early on that I like his writing voice and kept with it... only to discover that it's his only voice, and moreover, it's his voice.

Yep. I reread Polaroids from the Dead more often than his other work, especially the 'Brentwood Notebook' section, and I wish he would write about the world in his voice more often without couching it in fiction because it's damn good. I like the voice, and I like it when it's clear who owns it.
posted by carbide at 2:57 AM on September 4, 2009


I'm enjoying following him on twitter.
posted by the_bone at 9:09 AM on September 4, 2009


My favorite by him is Life After God. It has this odd devotional quality but is still Coupland all the way. Plus, without a plot, it is mostly his observations about life, and doesn't have some artificial structure there to hang it on, so it feels a bit more honest in ways.

I do need to read most of his later works. Working on finding them right now.
posted by hippybear at 9:10 AM on September 4, 2009


My gf is a massive Coupland fan so this will make a cool gift. The only irritation is that the text fields are frustratingly limited in the number of characters that will fit.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 10:43 AM on September 4, 2009


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