45 Down 7 Left (52 Books, 52 Weeks)

Douglas Coupland is among my favourite authors, chiefly because he manages to tread the fine line between being sardonic and evangelical. Consumerism is a central theme in Coupland’s work and Shampoo Planet‘s protaganist, Tyler is quite the corporate America poster-boy.

Tyler is on the cusp of adulthood, ready to leave Lancaster – a sad town made sadder and unfortunately no less radioactive by the closing down of the nearby nuclear munitions plant – along with his hippie mother Jasmine and rasta-wannabe sister Daisy. Tyler’s life revolves around speaking telethon-ese with girlfriend Anna-Louise, hanging out with his friends ironic 50’s diners and the local mall. However, a visit from Stephanie, whom he met on a recent summer Europe trip, threatens to screw up his best-laid plans, in his career, in his love, and pretty much his entire life.

Now when I put it like that, it sounds like a boring typical teenage coming-of-age story with attendant hijinks. Well, it kinda is. Amidst the ubiquitous trademarks and pyramid schemes are simple, largely unrealised characters who go through self-discovery and personal growth and whatnot. Sure, Coupland is as witty as ever, and the banter is amusing as hell, but Shampoo Planet‘s life lessons seem more pithy t-shirt wisdoms than anything. In any case, I still love Douglas Coupland’s work, and this book works well enough as a snapshot of 1990s zeitgeist, if not as great literature.

Shampoo Planet
(ISBN No: 0671755064) Check NLB Catalogue for item availability.

My next book will be P.F. Kluge’s Biggest Elvis.


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