Girls, memory, parenting, millennial fear – all served Coupland-style.
Karen, an attractive, popular student, goes into a coma one night in 1979. Whilst in it, she gives birth to a healthy baby daughter; once out of it, a mere eighteen years later, she finds herself, Rip van Winkle-like, a middle-aged mother whose friends have all gone through all the normal marital, social and political traumas and back again…
This tragicomedy shows Coupland in his most mature form yet, writing with all his customary powers of acute observation, but turning his attention away from the surface of modern life to the dynamics of modern relationships, and doing so with all the sly wit and weird accuracy we expect of the soothsaying author of Generation X, Shampoo Planet, Life After God, Microserfs and Polaroids from the Dead.
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In this latest novel from the poet laureate of Gen X--who is himself now a dangerously mature 36--boy does indeed meet girl. The year is 1979, and the lovers get right down to business in a very Couplandian bit of plein air intercourse: "Karen and I deflowered each other atop Grouse Mountain, among the cedars beside a ski slope, atop crystal snow shards beneath penlight stars. It was a December night so cold and clear that the air felt like the air of the Moon--lung-burning; mentholated and pure; hint of ozone, zinc, ski wax, and Karen's strawberry shampoo." Are we in for an archetypal '80s romance, played out against a pop-cultural backdrop? Nope. Only hours after losing her virginity, Karen loses consciousness as well--for almost two decades. The narrator and his circle soldier on, making the slow progression from debauched Vancouver youths to semi-responsible adults. Several end up working on a television series that bears a suspicious resemblance to The X-Files (surely a self-referential wink on the author's part). And then ... Karen wakes up. Her astonishment-- which suggests a 20th-century, substance-abusing Rip Van Winkle--dominates the second half of the novel, and gives Coupland free reign to muse about time, identity, and the meaning (if any) of the impending millennium. Alas, he also slaps a concluding apocalypse onto the novel. As sleeping sickness overwhelms the populace, the world ends with neither a bang nor a whimper, but a universal yawn--which doesn't, fortunately, outweigh the sweetness, oddity, and ironic smarts of everything that has preceded it.Review:
‘This is a millennial novel of a very subtle and interesting kind. It’s visually brilliant, full of extraordinary imagery, fresh like new paint. I was absolutely knocked over by it.’
Tom Paulin, The Late Review
‘I was amazed by it. The dialogue is some of the most brilliant I’ve ever read in a novel. It’s a great wake-up call to young Americans everywhere.’
Mark Lawson, author of Bloody Margaret
‘What I found most moving and gripping about the book is that Coupland, the poet laureate of the slack generation, is clearly struggling with maturity, struggling with the expectations of his youth and the realities of his life. A wholly original and successful novel.’
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Book Description Regan Books/Harper-collins, 1998. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 2257548