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All Families are Psychotic
ISBN 1582341656 / 9781582341651 / 1-58234-165-6
Publisher Bloomsbury USA
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Canadian author Douglas Coupland's seventh novel could be subtitled When Bad Things Happen to Bad People. As the estranged members of the Drummond family straggle into Florida for youngest sister Sarah's impending space shuttle launch, we only begin to glimpse the true meaning of the word dysfunctional. The family, plagued by terminal disease, financial disaster, felonious activity, infidelity, and violence, is forced--by a series of ever more fantastic occurrences--to attempt to deal with each other. That would be an easier task if they didn't loathe one another with a ferocity usually reserved for war criminals. It's not quite Jerry Springer-style tabloid TV set in Disney's Haunted Mansion, but the family members do muster the strength to insult, assault, and infect one another with abandon. With the exception of the family matriarch, Janet, they are unappealing and selfish, but without Machiavellian brilliance. Instead, they're inclined toward out-and-out stupidity, blinded by self-interest rather than enlightened by it. As they bumble through misadventure after misadventure, there seems to be no reason to cheer for them. Even Sarah, the family's shining star, has her dark side.
True to Coupland's style, the book reads lightning fast. The author punctuates his narrative with clipped dialogue and punchy exchanges that advance the palpable sense of unease and tension running throughout. And amidst the acrimony, Coupland throws a genuine caper into the plot, involving Prince William's farewell letter to his mother, Princess Diana. Add to that the oppressive heat and the postmodern, pop culture junkyard of Coupland's Florida setting, and the entire book brews and builds like a roiling tropical storm. --S. Duda [via]