Immerse yourself in the 21st century with artist Douglas Coupland


Anyone who has tried to cram about nine hours of Squid game in a day or two of viewing – that would be millions of people recently – can only agree with Douglas Coupland’s thought process in naming his first work of fiction in eight years. “It’s called frenzy for a reason, ”he said in an interview. “I really wanted to come back to this because one of the many things that defines our current age is excessive impulse. Where is that from ? What is it, what motivates him? In the end, I’m still not quite sure what’s in the secret sauce for frenzy.

Maybe, but he certainly knows how to handle it for a living. The 60 pieces of micro-fiction found in frenzyThe 251 pages of, sometimes linked, sometimes by plot, but mainly by recurring characters, are precisely refined. Told by male, female, or binary fluid characters of all ages, some are pleasant tales of escaping from an intolerable situation, while many others are often ironic tales of being stuck in it. But these are almost all black, funny screenshots of our world, constituting “an x-ray of a culture at one time, like a contemporary version of Winesburg, OhioCoupland says, referring to the related short stories of Sherwood Anderson’s 1919 classic.

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Hooks abound frenzy, pulling readers from one bite-sized story – medium length, 4.2 pages – to the next. There are compelling characters like the anonymous narrator who manages to organize the murder of her husband, personally murders the man she hired for it, and as a sort of afterthought, kills her daughter’s disappointing boyfriend. and happily navigate it all. And irresistibly attractive characters too, like Olivia, 18, desperately hoping for a sex life before her untimely death from cystic fibrosis, and Erik / Trashe Blanche, the acid-tongue but kind-hearted drag queen who appears in more stories than anyone. “Yes. Those two…” Coupland comments, before stopping, “I kind of think they want to come out and become their own book.”

And then there is the reader’s pure curiosity: how many times will the load carriers reminiscent of the coffins that we now find on the roofs of cars be used by murderers with a disposal problem? (Twice, actually.) And how many people have reason to be concerned when a close relative sends their DNA to a genealogy company? “Oh, I’m still waiting for a knock on the door,” says a Coupland, laughing about the recent spate of cold cases resolved through police access to DNA banks. “Just imagine, there’s a bit of your DNA somewhere, and then your sister-in-law says, ‘Hey, guess what? I signed us all up for 23andMe. Like, damn. “On the whole, it is indeed very difficult not to binge frenzy.

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For all the fun Coupland had in creating his thumbnails, their central theme in the author’s mind lies in the digital research histories so frequently revealed, in both frenzy and the real world. These leads are “the eighth deadly sin,” according to a narrator, a laptop repairer who takes an eye on all the activities of his customers – especially their pornographic collections – indulging in a curiosity that made him realize that everyone has “an inner world as complex and fucked up and noisy as yours. The one story Coupland himself brings up while discussing frenzy is “Clickbait,” told by a man visiting his mother, who has her computer open on her kitchen table. “When she goes up the stairs, well, have you ever wondered, what does mom look at when you’re not around?” (The narrator glances at his intense mortification.) “I think the whole book is about seeing everyone’s search history,” says Coupland.

In “Clickbait”, “Search History”, “Laptop” and more, what we search for online is as indelible as our missteps—frenzyThe latter’s tributes include a man masturbating on a rooftop immortalized by a drone camera and CCTV footage of a vegan teenager vomiting into a 7-Eleven after a hot dog was shoved in her face. Together, they constitute our very public “data spot”, says Coupland, and provide viewers with “what a 20th century metaphor might have expressed as a glass-bottom boat trip through someone’s brain.” . In the 21st century, the history of research itself is a metaphor for our deepest selves.

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frenzyThe 60 stories mark Coupland’s return to fiction in his 60se year, after a long hiatus, and in a very different way from his 12 novels. The 60-by-60e the coincidence is just that, a coincidence, says the author, but it serves to emphasize that Coupland, like all other North American children born in 1961, is a baby boomer. Despite his protests: “I am not [a boomer]. I hate the generation assigned to me so much that I invented my way out “- Coupland is not a member of the generation whose name he coined in his historical novel from 1991, Generation X. Regardless of their number, however, micro-stories may represent the only possible route back to fiction currently open to Coupland, reflecting as they do his artistic interests, which tend to focus on collecting small and disparate in larger structures.

In the first years of its public notoriety, after Generation X exploded in the air three decades ago, Coupland has always been described as “writer and artist”. But as works of art gained more attention, his media label shifted to “artist and writer”. Coupland’s preference is “artist, writer, author, designer”. By art he means “what you do in your studio, for no other reason than you want to do it”, while “public or commissioned art – the non-fictional version of art – is design, attached to a real world dimension. or some sort of reality. Fiction, “which is what you want it to be,” is author’s work, while writer Coupland takes care of the non-fiction of newspaper columns and essays. Its life in words and pictures can be traced, Coupland adds, “like a Punnett square,” the diagram biologists use to display, according to probability, the genotypes that might emerge from a particular cross. And there’s also the little question of a comfort zone, a striking selection for such a gifted writer: “I feel much more part of the art world than the writing world. I never really felt at home there.

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In 2010, Coupland wrote a series of 45 predictions regarding the next decade for the Globe and Mail. Last Christmas, the newspaper reprinted them, giving Coupland, and the rest of us, a chance to assess his prophetic prowess. (Not bad at all, it turns out: who can argue with, “The future of politics is the careful and efficient implantation into the minds of voters of images that can never be suppressed”?) More relevant , his attitude has not changed for the decade. The man who predicted “Expect less, not zero, just less” in 2010 remains one of the most optimistic pessimists around, in the face of soaring AI and a deteriorating climate, and even though he believes that the dominant tenet of our time is “unfocused rage.” “Yes, the ‘data stain’ will emerge fully, afflicting us all with virtual selves that we cannot ‘love or recognize,’ but that too will pass, says Coupland.” I’m high on humanity. Is this Oscar Wilde who said the last thing in life you understand is the way other people see you? We’re gonna stop dealing with this. Things will be just fine.


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