Douglas Coupland (“Generation X,” “Worst. Person. Ever.”) writes fiction that has the hurried pace of a journalistic sketch – and that, like, a newspaper, feels the need to make headline-grabbing pronouncements rather prematurely. His non-fiction is no different. He’s the kind of writer who sees omens everywhere, and I bet the words “this is the end of an era” cross his mind every time his tube of toothpaste goes flat. Some era ends every day, some era begins every day. “Polaroids from the Dead” supplements a series of highly fictionalized observations at a Grateful Dead concert in the early 90s with some stray essays (pleas to Kurt Cobain, dispatches from places like Los Alamos or East Berlin) and a final take on the O. J. Simpson trial that, at this distance, feels unnecessary. They’re not all of equal polish but showcase Coupland’s withering satire, and they’re entertaining even if they persist in drawing the sort of grand, unearned conclusions that mar a lot of modern essays. At least he’s intentionally funny about it, like in the scene in which a Dead concert-goer notices two hippie survivors huddled together, performing some complicated maneuvers. When he enthusiastically runs over, hoping to partake on some druggie ritual, he realizes with disgust that the complicated maneuvers are related to the insertion of contact lenses.
End of an era, man, end of an era.
RATING : COOL!