Wednesday, August 24, 2005

I’m disappointed Douglas Copeland

I never thought I’d accuse Douglas Copeland of a cop-out bait-and-switch ending but I just finished reading Girlfriend in a Coma and I have to say, I’m disappointed. I expected better. Hey Nostradamus! was haunting and beautiful and made me think about things I hadn’t really considered before. It offered characters not lovable, or even likeable in some cases, but in the end ultimately forgivable. It made me rethink my ideas about forgiveness and hope and hopelessness. Microserfs was brilliant. I laughed and snickered and I secretly wished I was cool enough to grasp all of the tech geek references. I came out of both books feeling a little, not smarter, but better thought. In the truest sense I came away from them feeling better read.

No so with Girlfriend in a Coma. The book starts off well. Copeland pulls out what is still his best party trick -- showing us a neighbourhood not unlike our own proceeding to reveal it as a complex world of human tragedy that turns out to be oddly familiar. The main character - Karen - falls into a seventeen year coma and the book follows the lives of the people left behind. About halfway through Karen wakes up, learns she has a daughter and then out of nowhere the world ends. Just like that.

Copeland spends the second half of the book in “what does it all mean” navel-gazing which would have been so trendy if he had an answer at the end of it. I feel disappointed, let down. I sat there thinking “that’s it?” I wanted to recheck the cover, this is a Douglas Copeland book, right? I was expecting a big finish, a mental feast of “ah, but you see what you really think is this” and instead I’m left feeling like all I got was a Twinkie and cold coffee and a note that says “yeah, that’s it, go home.” I guess I should have gone with Shampoo Planet or Eleanor Rigby after all.

Next up is Jon Krakauer’s Under the Banner of Heaven which Issachar promises will be worth my time. [See, every now and then I go and do exactly what you told me to :P] I'm only a few pages into it, but so far, he's right.

1 comment:

issachar said...

Telling you to read a book... (Because that's SO unlike you...) :)