Life After God Paperback – 31 Mar 1995
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"The New Criterion" Coupland's hipster credentials are...impeccable.
"The New Criterion"
Coupland's hipster credentials are...impeccable.
A revelation...Coupland's most accomplished fiction
to date...suffused with a mystery and regret unique
in his work.
Will Blythe "Esquire" A revelation...Coupland's most accomplished fiction to date...suffused with a mystery and regret unique in his work.
Will Blythe Esquire A revelation...Coupland's most accomplished fiction to date...suffused with a mystery and regret unique in his work.
The New Criterion Coupland's hipster credentials are...impeccable.
About the Author
Douglas Coupland is Canadian, born on a Canadian Air Force base near Baden-Baden, Germany, in 1961. In 1965 his family moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he continues to live and work. Coupland has studied art and design in Vancouver, Canada, Milan, Italy and Sapporo, Japan. His first novel, Generation X, was published in March of 1991. Since then he has published eleven novels and several non-fiction books in 35 languages and most countries on earth. He has written and performed for the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford, England, and in 2001 resumed his practice as a visual artist, with exhibitions in spaces in North America, Europe, and Asia. 2006 marks the premiere of the feature film Everything's Gone Green, his first story written specifically for the screen and not adapted from any previous work. A TV series (13 one-hour episodes) based on his novel, "jPod" premiered on the CBC in January, 2008.
Top customer reviews
Philosophical yet populist, prolific yet dependable, Coupland's someone we are lucky to have. These offcuts from Generation X are sheer decadence - though today's equivalent of Caligula's orgiastic excess (and subsequent anomie) is swimming pools as far as the eye can see - and it's also the one where Coupland outs himself. 'Admit it, Scout[to narrator] - you'd give it all away to look like a Chippendale dancer..' He has a thing about Save-On-Foods and the word beverage, but he can sketch a mean vignette - though the satire is edging closer to sentiment. Feeling our age already, Doug? The dialog(ue), and short takes, are quite filmic (is that good, or bad? probably yes) and not a little hokey - or 'uncomfortably numinous' as The Times said of Hey Nostradamus, where uncomfortably can be taken two ways. As for the Chippendales, well, they still await their Balzac
"Life After God" is a collection of short stories written in blocks of 2 or 3 paragraphs per page, large font, with a single child-like illustration accompanying it. The stories are plotless and meandering. One concerns a man in a hotel talking with his neighbours and then setting free some goldfish into a reservoir. Another features a mother who's left her husband and is talking to the child about her plans for their future and their present journey. Another features aimless thirty-somethings, unhappy with who they became, wondering what to do, trying to change, etc.
I'll say that the final story above hooked me. I've had similar conversations with friends I was close with who I've met at a wedding of a mutual friend or who I've met up with at a bar for a drink, and we've talked about who we were, who we are, and where we hope we're going. It's called growing up. It's called life. The overall message seems to be "life isn't what I thought it would be" and I get that, I think we all feel that. But as a book? It just drags.
Coupland's written about the vapidity of modern life and the aimlessness of the individual and the human condition exceptionally well, better than many writers around now and easily the equal of classic writers of the past. "Life After God" though is a misfire. It's got the ideas and the scenes of a book like "Eleanor Rigby" and "Generation A" minus the humour and the plot. As such, it's one of his least interesting works and at best feels like a self-indulgent experiment and a half drunk conversation with someone you vaguely liked once.
This is a profound and almost scary take on modern life. The structure (there are several narrators) and lack of plot in the conventional sense may make it hard for some to appreciate, but as with all Coupland's books I found myself laughing aloud one minute and pondering deep sorrow the next. He has an uncanny ability to nail the quintessential element in a vague emotion and nail it. Here's one of my favourites;
"Now: I believe that you've had most of your important memories by the time you're thirty. After that, memory becomes water overflowing into an already full cup. New experiences just don't register in the same way or with the same impact. I could be shooting herion with the Princess of Wales , naked in a crashing jet, and the experience still wouldn't compare to the time the cops chased us after we threw the Taylors' patio furniture into their pool...."
Brilliant. Buy it. Read it. Read it again. Delicious!
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