Life After God
by Douglas Coupland
Category: Fiction / General
296 pages; ISBN: 0-684-86021-X
Rating: 7/10 (Ratings explained)
Douglas Coupland's third novel belies its portentous title by being probably his lightest read.It's certainly the shortest; at least two thirds of the pages are illustrated with his deliberately child-like drawings.
"Life After God" is almost completely plotless.It is structured as eight self-contained tales themselves containing little in the way of incident, with a nameless narrator who may or may not be the same person.
The link between the stories is the narrator's ennui and disappointment whether the divorced father driving his son north or the unhappy office worker retreating to the forests in the last.From one viewpoint Coupland could be a committed Christian demonstrating the pitfalls of trying to make sense of life without God.More likely he is as lost as his characters.Wisely Coupland does not labour the point; the tales have a cumulative effect.
His familiar trademarks are present to a limited degree - the ensemble of friends and anticipation of Armageddon are restricted to one story each and the brand name banter is curtailed. Where he is most effective is in having his characters illuminate his points with poignant little gestures and that's much in evidence here. In the second story an abused girlfriend frees her goldfish in a reservoir (don't try that at home) while the most memorable story "In the Desert" tells of a brief encounter between a stranded motorist and a wanderer which ,in an emotionally impoverished age "becomes a potent lifelong memory".
Ultimately "Life After God" doesn't do much more than pose a few questions but they're the right ones.
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