The Coma Hardcover – 1 Jul 2004
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"'The Coma is an unpaginated descent into a hall of mirrors, wherein the writer wants to play games with your head... it's a chilly mood piece - its shadowy tone redolent of Poe and Kafka (and its murky imaginative contours heightened by a series of dark woodcut illustrations by Garland's father)... a strange compelling ride into that realm where nothing is what it seems - and where night never really wakes up.' Douglas Kennedy, The Times 'It's a great story to read, but also a lovely visual object to possess.' Design Week 'Compelling and chilling... his father's illustrations heighten the oddness' Observer" --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.
The Coma by Alex Garland is a gripping mystery and stylistic tour de force from the internationally known author of The Beach. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
The three first pages of the book consist of the account of Carl's accident. The rest of the story is seen from Carl's point of view, suffering from a psychological fall-out and amnesia as he is being treated in the coma ward of a hospital. His view of events is disorientated, his notion of time is blurred and his memory is unreliable.
It is quite an interesting challenge that Alex Garland took to try to portray what happens in the mind of a comatose man. The effect is quite stunning, disturbing and even frightening at times. This edition is highly recommended since it features forty illustrations made from woodcuts created by the political cartoonist Nicholas Garland, the author's father.
Garland's fascinating novella - a prime candidate for a must read in one sitting, captures that delightful feeling when you experience one of those rare lucid dreams. The main protagonist realises he is in a coma and seizes the opportunity to explore childhood memories, feelings, relationships and music. This is heady, trippy stuff accentuated by inventive and sometimes startling use of language and ably illustrated by some very evocative woodcuts. It's all over too soon though. Comfortably read in a couple of hours, the final chapter, although read and re-read several times, still did not give me satisfying closure on what had been a fun ride up until then.
Worth trying out, but annoyingly enigmatic at the close.
Carl is in the office making notes on papers late into the night. His secretary calls to remind him that the last train leaves in 25 minutes so he leaves. On the underground he sees a young woman being hassled by some yoofs. He intervenes and they stomp on his head. Carl is rushed to hospital in a coma. The novella begins with Carl trying to figure out what’s happened and then how he can awaken and return to his life.
Alex Garland wonderfully describes the dream state Carl finds himself in, really bringing that aspect alive for the reader. Carl goes from scene to scene without knowing how he got from one place to another, time seems to speed up, time goes backwards as he revisits favourite memories - it’s a great trip and exactly follows dream logic.
The book, though some 200 pages or so in length, is actually much shorter – a mirage in itself. Take all of the text and cut out the white space, the blank pages, the woodcut drawings, and it’s more like a 60ish page short story. But actually the way the book is laid out with everything spaced out like it is, is all part of the story.
The reader realises, at the same time as Carl, that his memories are extremely limited and he’s suffering from amnesia.Read more ›
The decision to add illustration by his father doesn't help. Whilst I think they add a brilliant creepy atmosphere to the text and so work rather well, the counter argument that they are merely "padding" seems equally valid.
Still, I've not knocked a star off for this - but I was tempted. It's a shame though as I feel "Coma" is brilliantly written and cleverly delivered. The story is imaginative and Garland caputres the unsettling, quirky dream state that his character inhabits with vivid, unsettling descriptions. The story is a clever and interesting idea and I admire him for creating a story and characters so rounded in such a brief format.
Thankfully, Amazon are offering this book at a more reasonable price - I'd recommend you check it out.
Therefore, my anticipation was very high when I heard of the author's new book "The Coma". What did I expect? I'm not really sure. Hopefully more of the same style as the Tesseract perhaps. What did I get? I will try and explain as best as I can.
"The Coma" is about a man, Carl, who, on trying to help a young woman out on the tube one night becomes the victim of a brutal assault by four teenagers. After that, Carl wakes up in a coma ward. Or does he? From here on I don't want to give too much away but basically the book continues to delve into the mind and surroundings of Carl. His thoughts, or real life situations, his trauma of not knowing whether his life is real or imagined and his determination to find out the truth is all explored here with both intelligence and humour.
The book itself is very short with many illustrations created by Nicholas Garland, the father of the author. The illustrations pick up on various places and images that Carl either remembers, is present at or conjures up, so they really do no damage to the flow of the book whatsoever. Although the chapters are short (some of them are less than half a page!) this makes it a comfortable read and even works in favour of the storyline as each chapter provides a glimpse at part of the real life, thoughts or memories of the central character which he himself is having trouble recollecting. This is why the book is so readable.
I would urge any Garland fan that enjoyed the Tesseract to give this book a go.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A friend read this for her reading group, she quite enjoyed the story until the last page when she found the ending was missing. Read morePublished 3 months ago by elbe
erm yeah it was alright.
just lend from library instead tho guys
Not worth having on your shelf.
I was struck by the brilliant written explorations of dread and terror
and how much the excellent TV Life on Mars series owes to this book
the 1st episode ofthat series... Read more
One of the first books that I literally could not put down. Read the whole thing in a day! Wonderful, mysterious, unique; a feast for the imagination! Brilliantly written. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Mr. C. M. Earl
Good read decent illustrations. Alex Garland's best work arguably, to rank alongside 'The Beach'. and '28 Day Later'.Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
Not quite graphic novel, maybe the best way I can describe it is illustrated short story. It does have a "film noir" feel about it. Read morePublished on 30 April 2013 by ziggy_fan