Wednesday, 16 July 2014

All Families Are Psychotic by Douglas Coupland (3/5)

First published: 2001
Page count: 279

The back says: In a cheap motel an hour from Cape Canaveral, Janet Drummond takes her medication, and does a rapid tally of the whereabouts of her children. Wade has spent the night in jail; suicidal Bryan is due to arrive at any moment with his vowel-free girlfriend, Shw; and then there is Sarah, ‘a bolt of lightning frozen midflash’ – here in Orlando to be the star of Friday’s shuttle mission. With Janet’s ex-husband and his trophy wife also in town, Janet spends a moment contemplating her family and where it all went wrong. Or did it?

I say: I have been meaning to read more Coupland for years; buying his books and shelving them for another day. Well, today was finally that day and it wasn’t as grand as I had hoped.

In fact, it was rather meh.

There were only two elements of this novel that interested me; the first one being the reason Janet has to take medication and the family’s past. It was gritty and sad, and even though I don’t particularly savour stories of hardship, there was something about Janet and Wade’s perseverance that endeared them to me. Out of all the characters they seemed the most genuine, despite their flaws and repeated mistakes.

And there were many.

The main reason I didn’t enjoy this was that there were too much random nonsense and silly plot twists that turned the novel into a farce. Supposedly there is humour in here, but I never laughed once and, quite frankly, couldn’t pinpoint a single joke.

Maybe the irony of it all was meant to be funny?


I don’t know if I like Coupland’s prose – it got the job done with little no offense. It had moments of present action mixed with flashbacks that revealed the steps that led the family where they were, and kudos a plenty for the exciting patchwork that made up this family drama.


  1. Only Coupland I've read is Generation X, which I liked well enough. I'll look out for this, looks intriguing...

    1. I think I have Generation X somewhere and should probably try to get to it sometime soon.