Paperback Roundup


From Independent on Sunday (November 25, 1998)

Girlfriend in a Coma by Douglas Coupland, Flamingo pounds 6.99.

What do Generation Xers do when they grow tired of deadpan irony? In the case of Douglas Coupland, inventor of the McJob, they become deadly earnest in their search for a deeper meaning.Coupland plunges his cast of American teen queens and kings into the flower-powered idyll of the 1970s. Karen, the titular girlfriend, attends a party with Richard, her ineffectual boyfriend (who is too busy narrating to convince as a majorprotagonist), plump but brainy Wendy, fledgeling supermodel Pam, and two other bozos who live life too much to the full. Karen is on a diet of vodka and Valium so it isn't long before she falls into a coma. The rest are left frozen in a state ofemotional apathy for the next 20 years. The somewhat turgid detailing of their self- obsessed, empty lives takes a turn for the fantastical when Karen awakens from her coma, and becomes a sub-Dickensian Spirit of What Could Have Been. She is shocked bythe "hardness I'm seeing in modern people", and prophesies an end to life as we know it. And lo! Coupland fast- forwards planet earth to apocalypse, leaving the gang, as sole survivors, with a mission. As "pioneers of the New World", they must renouncetheir gizmos to wander the streets in rags proclaiming the truth. Coupland should have stuck with dissolute slackers, because the heady New Age ideology he espouses never amounts to any kind of truth.