Volume 92, Issue 15

Tuesday, September 29, 1998



Coma opens eyes on life

Girlfriend In a Coma

Douglas Coupland

Harper Collins

$27.00/ 284 pgs.

Wake up and smell the coma.

This phrase embodies the general theme of Douglas Coupland's latest novel/social commentary, Girlfriend in a Coma. The author's contemplation of modernity in Generation X and Microserfs reveals his social awareness. Coupland's latest endeavour now calls attention to society's dying will to live by comparing a life void of challenge with a comatose stroll through the world.

Karen and Richard are two 1979 teenagers who have recently consummated their relationship and Karen shares with Richard the visions which have been haunting her – visions of a meaningless future plagued with horrific death and decay.

Hours later, Karen falls into a coma. Nine months later she gives birth to Richard's daughter, Megan, sentenced to the inadequate guardianship of Karen's mentally abusive mother. Over the next 19 years, Richard and his friends lead a pointless, unfulfilling existence until a phone call gives their world the jolt it desperately needs – Karen is awake and can see the end of mankind.

Stylistically, Coupland's use of casual yet descriptive dialogue reads more like a screenplay than a novel. His attention to pop-culture icons sets the reader not only in a specific time and place, but establishes the mind-set of the characters.

The actual layout of the novel renders two other professional titles for Coupland – artist and teacher. Printed on hemp-like paper, Coupland's aesthetic presentation of the novel suits a specific purpose. He needs to control the way in which the reader digests the material, to make sure his philosophical agenda is not muddled.

Chapter titles such as "One day you will speak with yourself" and "Every idea in the world is wrong," beg for interpretation above and beyond the content. It is obvious Coupland demands examination from an external perspective while creating an innovative vehicle for thematical expression.

Coupland has proven to be the voice of his generation and this novel is no exception. He successfully combines realism, fiction, spirituality, fantasy and philosophy into a work which reads with ease and familiarity. His message is clear – it's time for everyone to stop and look at the purpose surrounding their lives before it's too late.

–Christina Vardanis

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazette.entertainment@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998