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Matthew Branton: Coast

I could have picked any one of many books or films as your typical Generation X or Y story so this is as good as any of them. The sad fact is that it’s actually just Jane Austen (with maybe a bit of your poor man’s Donna Tartt thrown in for good measure), set in the early 21st century. All the 21st century stuff is there – drugs, computers/Internet/video games, TV and bored, rich teenagers surprisingly not happy with their lives. It’s set in England but could just as easily be in the USA. Apart from a couple of place names, a few words, a couple of cultural references, it’s all USA. The TV is Ricki Lake and Jerry Springer, the video games, the food, the superstore, the drugs – all US of A.

But the story is Jane Austen. Poor little lost teenage boy is in love but she doesn’t love him but someone else does so he dates her but then makes her unhappy when they break up but they might get together at the end. Meantime, he loves Mummy and Daddy but they don’t seem really interested in him (or each other) and they – and others – take him for a ride but, guess what? He sort of comes out all right in the end. Of course, crystal meth and travel to India and death and mayhem all come into it and there is even a predictable plot twist. It’s not a bad story and does tell you something about early 21st century Generation Y but it’s still sub-Jane Austen.

Publishing history

First published 2000 by Bloomsbury