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Girlfriend in a Coma

Girlfriend in a Coma [Kindle Edition]

Douglas Coupland
3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: £4.31 includes VAT* & free wireless delivery via Amazon Whispernet
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Amazon Review

In this latest novel from the poet laureate of Gen X--who is himself now a dangerously mature 36--boy does indeed meet girl. The year is 1979, and the lovers get right down to business in a very Couplandian bit of plein air intercourse: "Karen and I deflowered each other atop Grouse Mountain, among the cedars beside a ski slope, atop crystal snow shards beneath penlight stars. It was a December night so cold and clear that the air felt like the air of the Moon--lung-burning; mentholated and pure; hint of ozone, zinc, ski wax, and Karen's strawberry shampoo." Are we in for an archetypal '80s romance, played out against a pop-cultural backdrop? Nope. Only hours after losing her virginity, Karen loses consciousness as well--for almost two decades. The narrator and his circle soldier on, making the slow progression from debauched Vancouver youths to semi-responsible adults. Several end up working on a television series that bears a suspicious resemblance to The X-Files (surely a self-referential wink on the author's part). And then ... Karen wakes up. Her astonishment-- which suggests a 20th-century, substance-abusing Rip Van Winkle--dominates the second half of the novel, and gives Coupland free reign to muse about time, identity, and the meaning (if any) of the impending millennium. Alas, he also slaps a concluding apocalypse onto the novel. As sleeping sickness overwhelms the populace, the world ends with neither a bang nor a whimper, but a universal yawn--which doesn't, fortunately, outweigh the sweetness, oddity, and ironic smarts of everything that has preceded it.


‘This is a millennial novel of a very subtle and interesting kind. It’s visually brilliant, full of extraordinary imagery, fresh like new paint. I was absolutely knocked over by it.’
Tom Paulin, The Late Review

‘I was amazed by it. The dialogue is some of the most brilliant I’ve ever read in a novel. It’s a great wake-up call to young Americans everywhere.’
Mark Lawson, author of Bloody Margaret

‘What I found most moving and gripping about the book is that Coupland, the poet laureate of the slack generation, is clearly struggling with maturity, struggling with the expectations of his youth and the realities of his life. A wholly original and successful novel.’
Tony Parsons

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 897 KB
  • Print Length: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Harper Perennial; 1 edition (14 Jun 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004W2ZCB4
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (85 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #69,425 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Questioning, gripping and surreal 20 Oct 2003
By B. Remy
I've never read Douglas Copeland before and I found that this was an amazing book. It has the kind of prose that you just eat up. Copeland seemingly writes so easily and descriptively that after I'd finished I couldn't believe he'd created such a complete and satisfying book in so few pages.
The fact that Karen is in a coma for 17 years and that you have followed the life of her friends through that time and only a 3rd of the book is finished is incredible. The 2nd third is packed with moving descriptions of every day life, love and self-discovery, only to then have a bolt out of the blue for the last third that is a post-apocalyptic end-of-the-world truly surreal yet strangely gripping scenario. The ending does jolt a little, but if you go with it, I believe that Copeland achieves his aim of making you question modern day life, its' trapping and its' ultimate emptiness.
I was very very impressed. The book is really deep (man), and examines the meaningless of life and adulthood and the loss of dreams, yet it isn't a chore to plough through, it's a pleasure.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Douglas Coupland is a Canadian Author whose early 90's novel Generation X accidently defined a generation struggling to grow into adulthood. This late 90's novel may well be his best work to date (though personally it is a close call between this and his 2003 novel Hey Nostradamus).
Coupland takes a group of characters surrounded by pop culture references and global branding and sees them from their teens through to their thirties before forcing them to confront issues that they were always to busy to think about; love, death, family, enviromental destruction, the future and what exactly are we here for anyway? Most western readers born since the wars will recognise the world the characters live in and are equally to busy to confront these important issues. To this end the book often feels like a refreshing and some times desturbing critique of the readers own life expirence. Some reviewrs here suggest that this is ham fisted. But although the writing style is stark in places I found the story all the more shocking and immersive because of it.
The books takes it's name from a song title by seminal 80's guitar popsters The Smiths and their lyrics are liberally scattered through out the chapters. Spotting these is a real treat for any Morrissey or Smiths fan but never dominates the story and characters. Music journalists have often put the Smiths cross generational legacy down to their popularity with young people struggling with the transition into adulthood. The books appeal is very similair and it feels like an essential read for any one in their late teens to mid twenties.
Girlfirned in a Coma is an accssible, engrossing and easy read, the characters are great and the story is an excellent snap shot of the culture of it's time.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Different 6 May 2007
This is not my usual type of book, but it caught my eye on one of those "books you must read" lists and I decided to give it a go. I wasn't sure I liked it at first but found it became more compelling the further I read. Unlike some of the other reviews, I enjoyed the ending and I found Richard and Karen's relationship very moving. Overall, a good thought provoking read with a difference - I look forward to reading more of his work.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great beginning, better middle, TERRIBLE ending. 29 April 2000
By A Customer
I would have given this book more stars but whilst I enjoyed almost every page of Coupland's wit, humour, and depth, the end of the book was an incredible let-down. It just got ridiculous. I won't actually tell you the ending incase you want to give the book a shot, but I was really disappointed after the rest of the book had been so enjoyable. 'Generation X' on the other hand, is a work of genius, and I strongly recommend it to those of you just starting to experience the world of Douglas Coupland.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Let me whisper my last goodbyes... 8 Jun 2006
OK, I admit it, I started reading this purely because I'd heard it had loads of Smiths lyrics embedded in the narrative. But I soon forgot trying to spot them as I got completely caught up in the story itself. As a whole, it's a great book, but I did enjoy the first part the most, particularly when the characters all go slightly off the rails as they get older(the description of Richard vomiting into his stero had me in stitches), and start wondering if there isn't some greater meaning to life. Coupland writes these scenes fantastically well - they are questions we've all probably asked ourselves, and maybe had drunken conversations about - but he makes the characters do it in a way that's somehow both touchingly innocent but profound at the same time.

It's also done in a way that tantalisingly hints at answers being given later in the book, and ones that are tied up with Karen, the eponymous girlfriend, and the visions she had before her coma. And indeed they are, but somehow the answers given by Coupland fails to match the intrigue of the question. For me, this led to the second and third parts being inferior. Karen waking from the coma is very moving, and her first reactions to meeting everyone again are interesting, but the apocalyptic section moves the book more to the realm of sci fi thriller. The final part I mainly found irritating, mainly because I didn't really like the character of Jared the ghost, but it somehow all came together quite well in the final scene at the dam, and the ultimate message - which seemed to be 'start looking out for the rest of the world, not just yourself' - a thought-provoking one.

The various cultural references are also interesting - the lyrics, Smiths or otherwise, the unnamed TV show which is obviously the X Files.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I love doug.
Published 3 days ago by Charlotte Christensson
2.0 out of 5 stars A Rant Does Not Make a Novel
Girlfriend in a Coma isn't so much a novel as it is a tirade against the 1990s.

Every chapter drips with nostalgia and hippie philosophy. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Graeme Milling
5.0 out of 5 stars Girlfriend in a coma but not me
I was enthralled. A little bit crazy and out there with its theme but a great book all the same.
Published 7 months ago by IJH
4.0 out of 5 stars OMG my GF FTL
Douglas Coupland has been going for a while now and as the worst of Generation X become grandparents before there time, is he still relevant? Read more
Published 10 months ago by Sam Tyler
1.0 out of 5 stars Absolute pile of rubbish
Do not waste your time.
I bought this book for holiday and only managed to finish it as I had nothing else to read. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Sreed
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly readable...
I really enjoyed this book. The author proves yet again that he has his finger on the pulse of contemporary life. His writing is crisp and engaging. Read more
Published 16 months ago by J. Craven
5.0 out of 5 stars Truely Beautiful
Absolutley lovely! Written with a bittersweet view of both the beauty and tragedy in the world. Possibly may appeal more to females (had a kinda more feminine feel than any of his... Read more
Published 18 months ago by claire mason
3.0 out of 5 stars An Unsatisfying Tease Of a Book
The novel opens with the reader being addressed by a dead school jock who collapsed on the field of play and was diagnosed with fatal leukemia. Read more
Published 22 months ago by Genome
3.0 out of 5 stars A promising but ultimately frustrating vision
Based in a series of alternate realities, portrayed with varying style and interest; Douglas Coupland's `Girlfriend in a Coma' is an original and somewhat entertaining work, which... Read more
Published on 21 Jun 2011 by Mr. D Burin
2.0 out of 5 stars Good middle but does a Dallas
It started out well, the middle also improved, and it became particularly gripping near the end.

However it disappoints with a horrendous ending which is akin to and I... Read more
Published on 30 May 2010 by Paul M
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I believe that unless a person passes through some Great Experience, that person’s life will have been for naught. &quote;
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I didn’t realize then that so much of being adult is reconciling ourselves with the awkwardness and strangeness of our own feelings. Youth is the time of life lived for some imaginary audience. &quote;
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