I discovered Douglas Coupland through one of his books, and a Geek book at that. I don’t remember if I found it on my own or if it was one of the books that someone told me about, like Sarem, or something Steve would have recommended because it was about working at Microsoft. The book, Microserfs, was a great read – so much so that I started to look at some of Coupland’s other books, most recently All Families are Psychotic.
One of the things that you need to know right up front about Coupland: he typically starts a story in reality and ends it somewhere in the fantasy land of “all things have closure.” What I mean by that is that there’s the story line starts grounded firmly in reality. In Microserfs, it starts with a group of people that work at Microsoft. In All Families are Psychotic, it starts in Florida, with an older woman as a narrator, in a cheesy hotel. Simple and real. From there, the plot twists will turn into a roller coaster of “Whoa!” and keep you guessing with almost every page turn, more so in All Families than Coupland’s other books. And then, when all of the dust clears from the twists and turns of the story, you’ll find yourself in a bit of fantasy. It’s not like unicorns are prancing around you, chasing Aslan across the fields of Middle-Earth or anything, but an alternative of our own reality. It’s the kind of fantasy that leaves you with a feeling of “hm, it could happen!” as the stories conclude, and conclude they do. There’s usually a scene that’s as complete as a riding off into the sunset; there’s closure to all of the open story lines, so as not to leave a reader hanging.
And with Coupland’s writing style, this is a good thing. His stories, while offering a “ending” are never predictable in a conventional sense. Quite the opposite, in fact, as he’s taken me to places that make ask “how the hell did I end up here?” as you follow his characters throughout the story. I can definitely recommend All Families are Psychotic (as well as Microserfs for my fellow Geeks that are curious as to how life was in Redmond in the mid to late 90’s) as worth reading, especially because it help my attention – no easy feat these days with all of the writing I’ve been doing lately! Definitely worth it and should be easy to find at Amazon.