All Families Are Psychotic

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9780679311836: All Families Are Psychotic

The most disastrous family reunion in the history of fiction.

The Drummond family, reunited for the first time in years, has gathered near Cape Canaveral to watch the launch into space of their beloved daughter and sister, Sarah. Against the Technicolor unreality of Florida's finest tourist attractions, the Drummonds stumble into every illicit activity under the tropical sun-kidnapping, blackmail, gunplay, and black market negotiations, to name a few. But even as the Drummonds' lives spin out of control, Coupland reminds us of their humanity at every turn, hammering out a hilarious masterpiece with the keen eye of a cultural critic and the heart and soul of a gifted storyteller. He tells not only the characters' stories but also the story of our times--thalidomide, AIDS, born-again Christianity, drugs, divorce, the Internet-all bound together with the familiar glue of family love and madness.

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Review:

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

About the Author:

Douglas Coupland was born on a Canadian Armed Forces Base in Baden-Söllingen, Germany, in 1961. He is the author of the novels Miss Wyoming, Generation X, and Girlfriend in a Coma, among others, as well as the nonfiction works Life After God and Polaroids from the Dead. He grew up and lives in Vancouver, Canada.

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