Douglas Coupland

“The unbeautiful desolation of Nevada already makes me lonely; I pull my shirt up around my neck to combat the shivers.”


“‘If the marriage doesn’t work out, we can always get divorced.’”


“‘. . . get the little monsters so excited about eating a burger that they want to vomit with excitement.’”


“Dead at 30.  Buried at 70.”


“‘Is it possible to damage the sun?  I mean, we can wreck just about anything we want to on earth.’”


“‘If the wind doesn’t knock this place down first, it’ll implode from lack of hipness.’”


“. . . Edward’s dinner became whatever he could microwave from the local Circle K’s nuke and serve boutique.”


“Rilke, the poet: his notion that we are all born with a letter inside us, and that only if we are true to ourselves, may we be allowed to read it before we die.”


“‘Have you ever wanted to set your parents’ house on fire just to get them out of their rut?’“


“While she might not be beautiful per se, like most big-eyed women, she was compelling.”


“There’s a satellite time lag between replies, maybe one-tenth of a second long, that makes you think there’s something suspect malfunctioning in your brain- information and secrets being withheld from you.”


“Bench press your I.Q.”


Manhattan’s problem: “‘Too much weight improperly distributed: towers and elevators; steel, stone, and cement.  So much mass up so high that gravity itself could end up being warped- some dreadful inversion- an exchange program with the sky.’“


“He’s never funny, but he’s funny.”


“You are not your ego.”


“Linda became a beautiful but desperately unhappy woman, constantly searching for one person, one idea, or one place that could rescue her from her, well, her life.”


“I am reminded that no matter how hard you try, you can never be more than twelve years old with your parents.”


“. . . you have to live with the fact that history will ignore you.”


“He gave me a kiss that practically froze our lips together, it was that cold out.”


“Before I could analyze it, I turned into furniture.”

 “Generation X”- Douglas Coupland




“Imagine you’re sitting down in a chair and on a screen before you you are shown a bloody, ripping film of yourself undergoing surgery.  The surgery saved your life.  It was pivotal in making you you.  But you don’t remember it.  Or do you? Do we understand the events that make us who we are?  Do we understand the factors that made us do the things we do?

When we sleep at night-when we walk across a field and see a tree full of sleeping birds-when we tell small lies to our friends-when we make love-what acts of surgery are happening to our souls-what damage and healing and shock are we going through that we will never be able to fathom?  What films are generated that will never be shown?”


“By midnight, hours later, we were both lying blissfully on her futon, under the down coverlet, her face and body like a recently vacated carnival site, disconcertingly unchanged by the burst of life so recently bubbling on top.”


“I think we’re simply going to run out of nature before we destroy it.”


“Always keep your mouth shut with a drunk.  You can never win with piss tanks.  The most you can hope for is to break even.  The tactic of choice?  Preemptive boringness.  Being one-dimensional is the most satisfying method of coping with out-of-control people- with any situation that’s out of control.  Keep your face like a screen-saver software program.  Don’t let people know the ideas you love, the games you’ve played, the places you’ve visited with your mind.  Keep your treasures to yourself.”


“Flippant people ask stupid questions and expect answers.  Secrets divulged under flippant circumstances aren’t valued.  People don’t value other people’s secrets, period.  That’s why I keep my secrets to myself.”


“Daisy, Jasmine, still yakking- their talk like a maxed-out, drained of potential.”


“I think about how I think I know a person then pooh!  I discover I only knew a cartoon version.”


“I like to think of the future when I walk through the crops, through fields of onions and sunflowers and hops, all alone like today, looking over the hills and imagining radio waves beaming in from real cities like Portland and Seattle and Vancouver pulsing through my body.

One might think these prairie walks would be silent, but no, the wind almost always whistles past with urgent, undecodable messages.”


“But I will say that after he retired a few years ago, it became increasingly apparent that all he was concerned with was monitoring his investments, crowing over their success, and conspicuously not sharing his winnings with his family, as though keeping us in the economic Dark Ages was behavior to be proud of.  And I find there is a vaguely and consistently wasteful aura about the way both Grandpa and Grandma live their lives, like streetlights left on during the day, the way they like to have three of everything.  But I guess Grandpa’s simply growing: aging with nothing to show for it except a heap of consumer durables.  Or, as my friend Harmony would say, “He’s become a pod person: functioning but without a soul.”  Maybe this theory would explain the aura of strained, undiscussable pseudo-cheer near my grandparents, like partying in a house in which the mother has recently died.”


“The last time-and only time- Grandma and Grandpa spent any real time with us was when they stayed at our house five years ago.  This was after they returned from Brazil to discover that their freezer-room door had been left open for their entire holiday- three months’ worth of prepared-in-advance meals as well as several entire animal carcasses had rotted, creating an almost visible plume of vomitty decay smell to rise over their Onion Slopes house as they opened their bank of Plexiglas skylights to aerate the structure.”


“With each catch Anna-Louise moves deeper into the trees and I follow, silent, feeling seduced by a genetic secret, like a teenager learning to masturbate, not knowing what I’m doing, but continuing regardless, deeper into the forest, the ball miraculously managing to avoid the staid, butlerlike hemlocks and firs between us, the brush and undergrowth muffling all sound save for the beating blood in my ears and the slap of the ball in our gloves.”


“A strange new country.  Just what I need.  Canada: wet licorice-whip roads, strange radio, new foods, and lowered biopressure.”


“The jays’ temper turned testy.  One bird hopped onto the windowsill, not one breath away from my face, and screeched ferociously.  Pretty birds; unfortunate voices.”


“. . . Paris already being filtered out of my brain, being replaced by the gas that composes so much of the air but does so little, argon.”


“‘Kind of puts the fun back in funeral, doesn’t it?’“


“How selfish is Stephanie?  In bed I ask her to scratch my favorite place, just behind my ears, but she won’t scratch even once because then scratching would become just one more task she would have to execute on a routine basis. “How boring,” (pronounced “barring”: Stephanie never pronounces her vowels right).  How attractive.”


“If two planets the size of earth were placed next to each other, say, only a mile apart, their respective gravities would cancel each other out in between.  Were you to stand in that betweenness, you would drift in free float.”


“As of today I feel like I was sitting in a calm, quiet room when suddenly a Tomahawk cruise missile roared in through one window and out through another, all in a ten-thousandth of a second.  Sure, my room is quiet now, but I can never see it as totally safe ever again.”


“‘Oh shut up.  I don’t think I even really know you at all.  I mean, I know you to a certain level, but then I go no deeper.  There’s a point at which all knowledge stops-after which you won’t allow me to travel further.  I’m insulted.’“


“In periods of rapid personal change, we pass through life as though we are spellcast.  We speak in sentences that end before finishing.  We sleep heavily because we need to ask so many questions as we dream alone.  We bump into others and feel bashful at recognizing souls so familiar to ourselves.”


“There is a reason I am walking down Hollywood Boulevard today.  I quit my job at WingWorld yesterday.  I decided I will not burn wings every day merely to give myself enough sustenance to be able to continue working at WingWorld to. . . The loop of evil.  Who invented McJobs, anyway?  They’re work, but they’re not a living.  The undead working at unlabour.”


“Just as I  leave the store, there is a small earthquake-not much, but enough to activate every car alarm in the Los Angeles Basin.  From Wilshire Boulevard to Compton, the city is on fire with noise.”


“There are so many gestures in life we cannot undo.  Lost opportunities.  I accept this now.  I have no regrets and I’ll just have to accept my boo-boos and move on with life.  I don’t want to end up a “crusty old broad,” as you so zestfully describe poor Mrs. Dufresne, who, by the way, has freshly painted her Disney lawn statuary this week.  Looks smashing.”


[one who loves booze]: “a cocktail enthusiast”.


“An hour later I am in the bus headed back to Lancaster.  Stephanie was right about one thing: life is soon.”


“Boxes, boxes, boxes.  Packing isn’t physically tiring but it is emotionally exhausting. It’s getting to be late at night and my brain is worn out from having to make so many choices bang bang bang one after another.”


“‘We go way back, to pre-school.  We know each other.  People I don’t know just make me want to say yikes! I’ll take history over mystery any day of the week.’“


‘Shampoo Planet” -Douglas Coupland