Friday, January 31, 2003

book review Douglas Coupland( of X-Generation Fame)'s Girlfriend in a Coma follows the shiftless lives of a group of friends in suburban Vancouver. When they were teens two tragedies struck -- their most outgoing member died, and the girlfriend of on of the other characters (arguably the main character) falls into a coma. None of the others quite manage to make a life worth writing home about, although they are filled with lots of drugs and booze, and they do all end up, most of them at least, working on the X-files and other hollywood creations shot in Vancouver. ( the rest of this review has spoilers so reader beware )

I have to say that most of the book, because of this, is not terribly interesting. But one waits for it to get better -- partly because the story is being narrated by the dead teenager, and you are given hints that the girlfriend will wake up some day to terrible things. And indeed that happens, the whole world falls asleep and dies, leaving these friends and one daughter left to saunter through the pieces. They continue their shiftless lives for the most part until the world is about to end, and Jared, the dead narrator offers them a chance to go back.

Therein lies the only part of the book that engaged me, Jared's deal, and what they have to do to go back to the way things were, with everyone alive. It's a weirder version of It's a Wonderful Life, though this might be called, It's a Crappy Life and what am I doing living it?

Jared's deal is that they have to go back and never stop questioning, not one moment must pass where they don't ask themselves and others, what the hell are we doing here, why do we act like we do, etc...

It's a great call, a great speech and something definitely to aspire to. To often we don't question anything, but just carry on, in our just barely conscious of our existence kind of way. Of course, the problem with this book, and all sci-fi books about revolutions and grand changes is that we never get to see the hard dirty work of carrying it out. What happens to these people afterwards? How do they manage to keep up the good fight?

Those are the questions that we need answered really. Those are the real challenges of life. Unfortunately maybe they are not dramatic enough to write about...


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