Review: Girlfriend In A Coma

Girlfriend In A Coma
Girlfriend In A Coma by Douglas Coupland
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I’m not a big fan of Coupland. I’ve read some of his books but I couldn’t tell you what they were called or what happens in them. He writes so cleanly and efficiently that the prose just washes over you pretty much in the same way that the TV movies some of the characters in this book work on do. Having said that I actually enjoyed Girlfriend in a Coma and find that the characters still resonate with me even after finishing it a week ago, wether I’ll remember it in a year remains to be seen though. Coupland journeys through the lives of six incredibly dull characters that are vacuous and lost, in fact they have no redeeming features what so ever, so it was no mean feat keeping me interested in them but somehow he did. I won’t bore you with plot details but I will say that it was a very original take on an ‘end of the world’ ‘post apocalyptic’ tale and that, despite being an atheist, I found the book very spiritual. I think Coupland’s use of ghosts, spirits, religion etc. is very restrained and very effective. When it was published it was cited as a wake up call to the 90’s, I’d say that the themes it deals with a more than relevant today. We see a world obsessed with work and the allocation of time, people too busy with themselves to observe the beauty all around them and too introspective to take stock of the damage they are doing to others and to the world at large. We see people desperate to read the latest fashion mags but indifferent to the needs of others. Now that I think more closely about it I don’t feel that the characters have stayed with me because if I’m honest I’d have to go and grab the book to list their names. What did stay with me was the feeling that the world is on the cusp, that we live in a time where we can make a real difference or destroy it with indifference. Girlfriend in a Coma is basically ‘What a Wonderful Life’ on a global scale but where the plight of James Stewarts character stays with you, the lives of these characters quickly diminish leaving you with just Coupland’s fears rattling around in your head. Enjoyable and thoughtful but will it stay with you?

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2 thoughts on “Review: Girlfriend In A Coma

  1. I have fond memories of this novel. I was in my first teaching job and of the tender age of 23, or so. The English department ran a literary society and, seeing as a girl in the sixth form had thrust this into the Head of Department’s hands saying that the book had changed her life, the whole lit soc read it. It’s great, isn’t it? I read it 14 years ago and although I am now sketchy on plot details and characters, I know that the book changed my DNA in some subtle way. I went straight out and bought Generation X… never finished it!

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