This is another post-modern tale from Douglas Coupland, the man who gave us the term “Gerneration X” (the title of his début novel back in 1991). This one is peopled with a characteristically dysfunctional crew, comprised predominantly by the Drummond family.

I have to say that the quality of writing is not too high here, but what the novel lacks in subtlety and grace, it certainly tries to make up for in plot and pace. This book must have one of the craziest plots I’ve ever read. In the course of under three hundred pages we meet with family feuds, adultery, smuggling, HIV, cancer, black market baby sales, armed robbery, car crashes, kidnapping, death at Walt Disney World, oh, and space travel. Yes, that’s right, the one successful member of the family, Sarah, has, against all odds, become a NASA astronaut, who just happens to be floating around up in space whilst much of the action mentioned above takes place.

All Families are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland

In a ridiculously chaotic story where events seem to spiral ever further out of control, I kept hoping for a good old Coupland moment of truth; a seemingly small, isolated personal epiphany with broad implications which would offer some hope to an otherwise lost and sorry set of circumstances. Sadly, I still feel like I am waiting. Okay, that might be slightly unfair, as there is a turning point of sorts at the end of the novel, however I didn’t find it nearly as convincing or powerful as I would have liked. I think part of the problem was that by the time I had reached the end of the novel, so many crazy events had taken place that they nothing really registered very deeply at all.

I know that Coupland’s talent and style is to deliver bold, brash works exploring modern life in new ways, but I don’t think that All Families Are Psychotic quite hit the mark. If you’re interested in reading any Douglas Coupland work, my advice would be to check out one of the following: Generation X: Tales for an Accelerated Culture, Life After God or Hey Nostradamus!

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