Life After God


From Magill Book Reviews (August 1, 1994)

by Mark Goldstein

LIFE AFTER GOD is a highly unusual, complex set of stories, all told in first person, as if they were directly based on the author's memories. It is, however, a work of fiction, and has the usual disclaimer on the copyright page that the characters are fictitious.

The short story format is more of a framework for the author's ideas than the basis of the book. The common theme of the book is that Coupland and his contemporaries are the first generation growing up without religion, with no clear anchor in a changing and difficult world. This theme, however, is addressed in a variety of ways.

In "Things that Fly," for example, the author addresses the very nature of thought as a sequential act, and speculates on the likelihood that only humans think in sequential terms. In "The Wrong Sun," nuclear war is addressed, through the chilling method of having a number of imagined people recount how they spent their last moments before dying in a nuclear blast.

The most fascinating story, however, is the title story, a novella entitled "1,000 Years (Life After God)." The author recounts an ideal suburban childhood, filled with swimming pools and large lawns and trips into the woods. He then traces the fates of a number of his childhood friends, all of whom grew up to have drab, meaningless lives.

The book ends with the author in a rainy wood far from other people, sitting alone with his thoughts. After a lifetime of feeling lost, he finally feels that he has come home in a real sense, and that after all, he does find God necessary to his happiness.