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3.9 out of 5 stars
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3.9 out of 5 stars
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on 15 April 2017
Great book, fast delivery
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Doug's a bit like a tasty supplement you sprinkle 'atop' your cereal, but is he a complete meal? 'Dazzlingly disposable', as The Daily Telegraph remarked nicely of the work that followed this one. Or he's like the Bible - or so I conclude after two books (of his); you can take out of it what you want. 'I'm still unsure if Earth is a penance or a reward', he says in a Time Out interview with John O'Connell - where he's also good on reference libraries

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
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on 19 April 2010
This is the 8th book of Coupland's I've read and I wouldn't have read this many if I didn't think he was a great writer doing wonderful things with the novel. He's been on a roll recently starting with "Eleanor Rigby" up to his latest "Generation A" so I was interested enough to go back to those I've not read, his early books.

"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.
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on 14 March 2006
I'll admit to having read many of Coupland's books. As a chronicler of our vacuous, materialist age and the damage it inflicts on us as human beings, he is without peer. After his seemingly more substantial works like All Families Are Psychotic, Eleanor Rigby and Hey Nostradamus, the pared down, minimalist structure of Life After God at first seemed ethereal and a cop-out even. But as I read on, I realised that in Coupland's case, less is more.
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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on 11 January 2013
This is the 8th book of Coupland's I've read and I wouldn't have read this many if I didn't think he was a great writer doing wonderful things with the novel. He's been on a roll recently starting with "Eleanor Rigby" up to his latest "Generation A" so I was interested enough to go back to those I've not read, his early books.

"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.
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on 22 June 2000
Sometimes you just can't explain why you like something so much.
Maybe it's the way Coupland seems to revoke the old Beat sentiment of searching for a meaning in the apparent madness. Perhaps it's the honest but almost reasurring sadness that runs throughout this book. The glimmer of hope beyond irony, or the feeling that we truly are a part of something much bigger than ourselves.
This book is a collection of perfect moments and memories tied together by a search for the unknown, sometimes even doubting that the unknown's really there to be found. Coupland doesn't spoonfeed the reader with a conventional plot, such a device isn't needed here, instead he shapes a feeling with description and observation, reminding the reader of the magic in the world. This is the magic we all too readily forget, the magic in which our childhood dreams are founded.
It is Coupland at his spiritual, practical and often whimsical best. An incisive commentary of the human condition.
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on 22 July 2000
Life After God - Douglas Coupland
Again, Coupland has produced another book which is just impossible to put down. It wraps itself around you, submerges you into his world.
The book examines the anxieties and stress of the zeitgeist generation, a theme Coupland writes about so well. It's about a generation struggling to cope with a changing world, the key to all of his books, but this book follows a more cerebral path, as his thoughts and dreams form the main storyline.
The thing that makes me connect most with Coupland's writing, is the way he portrays his characters and their thoughts. He writes in a way that is almost androgynous. In every book he has written, there are parts which you can identify with - this can be both scary and inspiring!
As a big fan of Coupland, I would say this rates along side 'Girlfriend In A Coma' as one of his best, if not his darkest book yet.
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on 22 October 2007
`Life after God' seems to have split people. Some love it, whilst others felt it was a bit of a con. I am afraid that I fall into the latter category as I did not think much of Coupland's pseudo cod psychological mumblings. At around 200+ pages you soon realise that most of these are full of white space or childlike drawings. This means that you are effectively paying full price for a book that would sit comfortably in the Quick Reads section of the book shop.

It is not the length of the book that really bothered me but the fact that there was absolutely nothing to it. There is no story as such and it is more about a man's crisis as he narrates how his life has unravelled. Each chapter jumps to a point in his life were he no longer feels connected to life. Personally I would tell him to get a clue - everyone feels like an outsider, it's called the human condition. It has always irritated me to see rich Westerners moaning about their place in life whilst other people live on the edge of starvation or in war zones. The richer you are the more inane your petty problems - but you still worry e.g. Owen Wilson.

Some people may find something deep and meaningful from this book, but personally I find it a bit of a short cynical cash-in that Coupland probably rushed out after his initial success with `Generation X'. I have read other books by Coupland and `All Families are Psychotic' proves that his explorations of psychology, family friction and depression do work - they just need some sort of coherent structure.
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on 9 January 2016
20 years since I first read this. 20 years that have vanished before I even thought about them starting....so many lifetimes..lovers, children, divorce, careers, loss, fortune, the town and the city and all the spaces in between, my babies become teenagers and I move to grey and a nagging/boring obsession with my waist size..I have memories of this book: beautiful and simple and elegant and moving and spiritual with a small 's'..and I've recommended and bought this for so many that I wanted to see if it still means what it did.

It does. Coupland still makes me smile in ways I only recognise when I read him; ("he was so curious to know what being shot would be like. To facilitate shooting he would always wear his shirts wide open at the chest, like a 1976 person"), ("there were no clean spoons around the house so I ate cottage cheese with a plastic tortoiseshell shoehorn that was lying next to the couch - so I guess I've hit a new personal low"), and now gives me that added ache of nostalgia..the saddest of the loss emotions. This has the strange comfort of a Hold Steady song - reminding me somehow of a time long since passed, or the smell of my favourite Chivas Regal 25, and could make me cry on a deeper, more pale afternoon. Tempting to be cynical of course..Coupland with his oh so meaningful 20 something generation little baby nothing small life lessons, and too cool for school ain't I tortured and interesting characters, but that would mean reading this with head not heart and there are plenty of other reading experiences for that. These are snatches of meaningless conversations, (like most words exchanged), sketches of moods ("..summer was over. The cold air sparkled and the maples leaves were rotting, putting forth their lovely reek, like dead pancakes."), the nuclear dead speaking after their everyday mundane flashpoint deaths in shopping malls, offices and hair salons, and clever little metaphors ("counting the Rothkos of skid marks of long-dead car collisions on Interstate 15's white cement lanes").

Some days we need to disappear into a foggy world of dreams, and not return to this, our real world. Life After God allowed me that opportunity today. I slipped through, just for a couple of hours..slipped my own chains. In the words of another great Canadian: "only love can break your heart".

"Time is how the trees grow. I will fall asleep for a thousand years, and when I wake, a mighty spruce tree will have raised me up high, high into the sky"
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on 20 September 1999
Life After God could have been all the great things it said on the cover you know evidence of true secular spirituality, a brave voice for feelings we all have but can't often voice etc. But it isn't. Its most reminiscent of those conversations students have when they have seen the bottom of a few too many beer glasses - vague rambling about death and love and disconnected stories about what might have been stuff like that - well here it is again. Even down to how many ways are there to die in a nuclear bomb blast. (I think that's supposed to be ironic/funny/ full of pathos, but again misses the mark on all three counts). Its not inspiring. Its not even depressing its just boring self indulgence by the author.
To be fair there are a couple of good moments, but how could you write all those sentences without accidentally managing a few good turns of phrase? Its a real achievement not to have managed more.
I suggest you buy it only if you are in one of those unsober moods where you feel you understand everything. If you do that you'll probably think its deep.
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