All Families are Psychotic


283 pages
ISBN 0-679-31140-8
DDC C813'.54




Reviewed by Debbie Fyfe

Debbie Fyfe is the reference/Internet resources librarian in the
Information Services Division of the Edmonton Public Library.


Douglas Coupland, author of Miss Wyoming (1999), Girlfriend in a Coma
(1998), and Microserfs (1995), shines in his latest tale of a
dysfunctional family.

The Drummond family is having a family reunion of sorts. Daughter
Sarah, an astronaut who was born with one hand and is now “America’s
Sweetheart,” is about to be blasted into space; her somewhat estranged
family converges in Orlando, Florida, to watch the launch. Family
matriarch Janet, 65, was infected with AIDS when a bullet, shot by her
ex-husband Ted at their HIV-positive son, Wade, accidentally passed
through Wade’s stomach and entered her lung. Ted shot Wade because
Wade slept with Ted’s second wife, Nickie, who became infected
herself. Wade is a self-described “big sleeper-arounder” whose
pregnant wife is a former heroin-addict turned born-again Christian.
Janet’s third child, Bryan, is a suicidal musician with a pregnant
girlfriend who was never toilet trained and who has secretly decided to
sell her baby on the black market. Which brings us back to astronaut
Sarah, whose husband Howie is having an affair with Sarah’s mission
commander’s wife, Alanna. Sarah just happens to be having an affair
with the mission commander.

Throw in a hostage-taking, addiction, Disney World, bankruptcy, Lady
Di, and a smashed rental car and you have a fun, fast-paced novel—if
you can hang on and enjoy the ride. The plot continually turns, the
characters are numerous and sometimes confusing, and the storyline is
over the top. But Coupland’s timed layering of events and character
traits allows us to almost believe this hilarious story of family
truths. Fans of tabloid fiction, Jerry Springer, and pop culture will
undoubtedly enjoy this philosophical, hip novel.


Coupland, Douglas., “All Families are Psychotic,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed May 29, 2024,