11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Questioning, gripping and surreal
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...
Published on 20 Oct 2003 by B. Remy
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Great beginning, better middle, TERRIBLE ending.
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...
Published on 29 April 2000
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Let me whisper my last goodbye",
I've never been too sure about how to pronounce his name "Cope-land" or "Coop-land". Most times I just settle for Doug. I've had a long standing adoration for Coupland's work both written and constructed. I made a special visit to the Canadian High Commission in London to see some furniture Coupland had designed around notions of what it is to be Canadian. I also trekked to Stratford Upon Avon where I was shocked by Doug performing his play "September 10th, 2001." This sexy sounding Canadian had turned into Ernest Hemingway without anyone warning me.
How you'll respond to this review will probably depend on your previous encounters with Doug. People are generally divided into two categories: 1) those who think he's ultimate social commentator and 2) those who think he's just another pop culture junkie. I fall into a third category 1.5) those who are unsure whether Doug adores pop culture or if he's gently mocking it. I got to have the briefest of conversations with the Big Man Himself in Stratford after the show and I asked him directly. He smiled enigmatically and said "No one's asked me that before..." and drifted away humming. I was, like, totally bummed.
"Girlfriend in a coma" is a Smiths song title. The song contains the haunting lyric "let me whisper my last goodbye" which is a good way into the novel. The novel tells the story of a group of friends growing up in Vancouver, Canada in the late 1970's. On the night of a teenage house-wrecking party Karen, falls into a coma. More alarmingly, she seemed to expect it, having given her boyfriend, Richard, a letter detailing the vivid dreams of the future she had experienced and how she wanted to sleep for a thousand years to avoid that vision.
The opening of the novel is a vision of what happens after the end of the world relayed to us by Jared, a ghost. It's a shocking and despairing vision of a world without people, technology and concern. Jared tells us that most of us don't learn from second chances that we really learn from third chances- "after losing and wasting vast sums of time, money, youth and energy". The first part of the book covers the next 17 years in the lives of Jared's friends- the friends who "finally learned their lesson". The story, as Jared puts it, gets bigger than any individual and includes all of us and ultimately becomes Jared's story.
I don't want to flesh out the plot lines as the organic growth of the novel is something to savour. Meeting and getting to know about the characters, following their stories and ending up at one of the most chilling finales in fiction. Anyone who liked, loved or was moved by "it's a wonderful life" will enjoy GFIAC.
I can promise you this book won't make you a better manager, won't help you be a better lover, won't improve your social life, won't give you six/seven/eight handy hints on how to be more effective. This book will however draw you in, lull you into thinking you know how it will end and then chew you up, break you into small pieces and then spit you out. Then ending of the novel is a rallying cry for awareness, questioning and being totally present. It's the ultimate "plan b" for humanity. Plan A isn't doing us that well and Doug provides us with a way of creating a new paradigm. Buy this novel. It will change you.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just a great story,
I wanted to write about American Literature for my English dissertation at school, and my teacher recommended Douglas Coupland. I bought this book simply because it was cheaper than the other Coupland novels in the shop - and I was mightily impressed. Having now read Gen X, I must say Girlfriend in a Coma is far more colourful, truthful and moving than the former. OK, so the philosophy IS an integral part of the novel and one could spend a great deal of time picking holes in this philosophy, but I personally felt it was the plot and the plights of each character that appealed and interested. I will not lie about the ending - it is dissappointing, frustrating, and dare I say it...lame, but I feel the main reason for this was not Coupland's lack of imagination or writing ability, but the way in which Karen and Richard's relationship was suddenly swept out of focus. I think if Coupland had included more about this relationship in the last quarter/fifth of the book, the ending would have seemed far less empty and dissappointing. However, the rest of the book more than compensates for this minor discrepancy. It is as I say, just a great story - try not to get too hung up on the philosophy and just read it as a tale about a bunch of dudes growing up in the world.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intelligent, thought-provoking and affecting,
By A Customer
Coupland's finest work and possibly the best book I've ever read in my life.
This book represents a new direction for Coupland (generally previous to this, good though the books are, a great many thoughts are thought but there's not a great deal of action). In this the world ends, albeit temporarily.
Coupland's themes, including teenage dreams replaced by cynical reality, social alienation and the problems posed in a society of people who've lost the abilities to either believe or dream, are tackled well. The characters are believable and affecting and the book compels you to read on.
The ending is a surprise and is not the big climax the book seems to be leading up to, something which people may disappoint some people. However, it is surely preferable to have an ending that reflects the point to the book is trying to make than one that is spectacular but says nothing. And it certainly does make you think.
An excellent book.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Goes to an important edge... and then backs away again.,
By A Customer
This book left me feeling both awed and disappointed.
The first 3/4 of the novel gave an intense sense that Coupland was working up to something special, a truly damning comment on his subject generation. Which we got in a way. But he backs away from taking that leap, instead almost preaching in a simplistic fashion that just doesn't sit well alongside the rest of what is an admittedly gripping novel.
Coupland has made a name for himself as a master of social and cultural comment, but he normally executes it with with rather more flair than demonstrated here.
Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, and will recommend it heartily, but be aware that it doesn't quite fully deliver on its promise. A shame. Deus ex machina is never truly satisfying...
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By Far The Best Book I Have Ever Read,
By A Customer
This review is from: Girlfriend in a Coma (Hardcover)
To tell you the truth I brought this book because I liked the cover, and before reading it I had never heard of Douglas Coupland. So having never read anything from this genre before, I'm probably not best reviewer for this book. (In fact if anyone's still listening I'm touched.) Anyway the book. I was shocked to read Amazon.co.uk's review of the book. The plot is superb and ultra realistic up until the end, when it becomes totally surreal and a bit hard to swallow parts. The story line apart from the obvious 'girl goes into coma' bit, is basically about a group of friends, and how they deal with their best friend going into a coma. And once she wakes up how they deal with a very bizarre set of circumstances indeed. To cut long 'review', short (BOOM, BOOM) once I finished the book, my friend read it, my friends mum read it, my auntie read it, they are said it was FAB. So now my mum (who strictly Jane Austin) is reading it. So if that doesn't convince you that its pukerest book that ever was, then I don't what will. It is truly, truly great.(I aplogise in advance if your book sales go down amazon :)
3.0 out of 5 stars Bittersweet and melancholy,
Something about this book tears at your soul a little. The characters go from the halcyon days of their youth to their jaded and cynical adulthood so believably. The world and the vision of the future Coupland creates here is so powerful it compels you to read on and on, looking for hope. It left me feeling melancholy, bittersweet and most of all, thoughtful. I gave the book only 3 out of 5 stars because I find that Coupland's style of writing can sometimes be mechanical and dreamlike, not flowing as easily as it could, but I do really recommend you read it.
4.0 out of 5 stars Falls short of greatness but still a cracking read,
Coupland always manages to provoke some kind of bizarre reaction within me when I read his novels. Irritating in parts, often seemingly directionless, it somehow (like his other books) works! Not sure about the "Conversion" stuff and the clumsy attempt at moralising for a lost generation but...overall, Good stuff, well written, interesting. Not his best but hey, what is going to beat Microserfs anyway?
9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Post apocalyptic anti-climax,
Girlfriend in a Coma begins beautifully with typical Coupland originality and brilliance. The middle is still excellent but the ending is just too much and it resulted in me almost losing faith in the whole plot entirely. The beginning and middle are very strong with the usual Coupland flair for witty, fast paced, wish-I-could-talk-like-that dialogue and a story that gets you feeling for the characters and sharing in the desperation with them. The ending is just too bizarre and preachy and doesn't fit with the rest of the book at all. All the way through you know that the story fits in with something far bigger than the circle of friends themselves, but please...I am still giving this book four stars because despite the ending, it is still one of the best books I have read. The beauty of it is not that it makes you think about the meaninglessness of your life (as it was intended) but just because it is so totally gripping and consuming as a story. Buy it, rip out the last 40 pages and make up your own ending...
4.0 out of 5 stars Intense,
By A Customer
Dramatic, and punchy storytelling make this a must-read, although it can be confusing at times. Read through carefully and you won't be dissapointed. Coupland has managed to create a powerful and moving story, even though it has a slightly sluggish pacing. This deserves a solid 4 stars, for creativity, imagination and a good presentation of ideals. This book will leave you thinking...
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, great book!,
I love his style - his descriptions are so good! I couldn't put it down, and even if it told me something I already know, it was nice to have it there, between two covers, to get lost in for a while.... Along with "The Beach", this is one of the best books I've read lately, and will definitely go into the "Favorites" section of my bookshelf(ves).
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Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland