A Comedy of Manners For Generation X,
Rezension bezieht sich auf: Miss Wyoming: A Novel (Gebundene Ausgabe)
Douglas Coupland is the writer whose book, Generation X, was so smart, hip and slightly disillusioned that it coined a phrase to describe a generation of smart, hip and slightly disillusioned Americans.
This book, Miss Wyoming, follows the parallel stories of Susan Colgate and John Lodge Johnson and encompasses everything from the American beauty pageant culture to near death experiences.
Susan Colgate is a former pageant "work horse" and low-budget television star. Typical of pageant hopefuls and television aspirants, she embodies a surgically-enhanced, plastic kind of unnaturally-endowed beauty and, as would be expected, her life unfolds much like a trite and manipulative soap storyline. One racing toward a definitely unhappy end.
Susan, however, is a survivor. She has survived a manipulative and grasping stage mother, a plane crash in which she was the only survivor, and a year in which she "went along" with the story of her own apparent death.
John's life hasn't been a whole lot better. The son of a downwardly-mobile and rapidly-fading socialite and her constantly-disappearing husband, John endured a childhood filled with endless illness and depression only to come into his own as a successful maker of films.
Success for John, though, is narrowly defined and means the constant ricochet from one stimulus-induced high to another. For John, the bigger the high, the more thrilling the thrill, and no amount of money is too much to spend.
His "thrilling" lifestyle, however, comes to an abrupt crash landing when he falls prey to a particularly virulent virus and experiences an astral projection, the likes of which he has previously only dreamed.
It is when Susan and John meet that Miss Wyoming really takes off.
Coupland is one of those rare authors whose subject matter suits his writing style perfectly. Yes, much of it is "mind candy" but it is mind candy written with such an infectious joyousness that it is difficult for even the most jaded reader to resist its allure. His characters are victims of the too-much-too-often, freeze-dried, quick-fix excess, yet they are never trite and never fail to amuse.
The plot ricochets from one event to another, much like the characters, and they do their best to struggle and survive and even, at times, connect.
Miss Wyoming is definitely satire and it is modern satire of the highest order. Surprisingly so. The patron saint of satire, Oscar Wilde, defined the genre as being not only witty, succinct and accurate, but also imbued with a love of humanity and all its quirks. Coupland's writing shows this same generosity and love of his fellow man and it is this quality, more than any other, that pulls Miss Wyoming far above other novels in the genre.
What could be more ripe for criticism than the youth-and-beauty-worshiping, celebrity-obsessed, consumerist culture of America today? Yet, Coupland embraces this culture with a sweetness that brings his flawed and failing but always-hanging-in-there characters to life.
Our priorities, says Coupland, are genuinely laughable, but we can and sometimes do, transcend them. While lampooning the excesses of America today, Coupland still manages to cherish his fellow man, quirks and all. It is this very innocence and love that, in the end, make Miss Wyoming a very hip, very smart and very compassionate book to read.