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Coupland still bittersweet
on 23 September 2004
Before I begin this review, I should say that I am a huge Coupland fan. When I saw his new book in a shop window, I had to get it straight away.
This book is similar in style to his later books - especially Girlfriend In A Coma, in that spectacular coincidences are dropped into the main characters life at various moments. Without giving anything away, some very strange events occur, but they are only made clear gradually, so that the reader is left trying to decide what on earth could have caused such an event. It is almost never what you expect.
However, where "Girlfriend" still had a sense of teen-agey angst about it, this book seems more about dealing with getting older. As far as I recall, this is the first book he has written entirely from a female perspective. The main theme of the book is loneliness. His writing style leaves me speechless sometimes - the ability to weave such poetry from the tiniest parts of everyday life, in a way that takes your breath away:
"We cripple our children by not telling them what loneliness is, all of its shades, and tones, and implications. When it clubs us on the head, usually just after we leave home, we're blind-sided. We have no idea what hit us. We think we're diseased, schizoid, bipolar, monstrous and lacking in dietary chromium, It takes us until thirty to figure out what sucked the joy form our youth, that made our brains shriek and burn on the inside, even while our exteriors made us seem as confident and bronzed as Qantas pilots. Loneliness."
But the book is far from depressing - the overall message of the book is distinctly optimistic, with a fair dash of the darkest humour:
"I have trouble with any meat whose name also describes what the meat used to do before it became meat"..."Hi - before I was sautéed in onions, I spent my life refining impurities from a cow's bloodstream".