Douglas Coupland, Girlfriend in a Coma

Dear Doug,

I've just had three whole evenings free, with nothing in hand to mark, and tonight I'll receive ninety first-year composition papers: around 110K words, so they'll take over my dreams once I get rolling on them.

But in the interim, though, I picked up once again Girlfriend in a Coma, your novel I'm teaching in January for a grad course on West Coast literature, to see how much I could get through before I had to suit up for all those essays. For years, whenever your name came up in conversation, I'd say that you're one of my favourite writers and that I'll always read everything you write, and I'd say that Girlfriend in a Coma is the clearest example of your inability to finish a novel properly. But what the hell, I thought, I'll assign the thing. A reader can't understand the contemporary West Coast without spending some time in your version of it, even if it gets ridiculous at the end.

How did this happen, though?

The novel doesn't get ridiculous. I remain an atheist, so the details of the plot's climactic machinations remain a problem, but Doug, honestly, how did I not end up on my knees ten years ago with Linus and Wendy and Megan and the rest?

Admittedly, I got verklempt to the point of near-weepiness while watching Elf this afternoon with my eight-year-old daughter, so I'm pretty heavily battered by fatigue and assorted middle-aged strains, but gosh. Time to build a world.

Regards,
Richard

Comments

Lara said…
My reaction to that book was similar, but much more tinged with fear and despair than yours. Looking back on that experience six years later, the only words I can come up with to describe the ending are: ooga-booga.
It's a technical term; I've heard it used in graduate seminars.

-Lara (@BKILCD)
richard said…
Any progress on finding an alternative to "ooga-booga," Lara? I'm thinking it's a more localized usage than I've got access to....

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