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Life After God Paperback – Dolby, March 1, 1995

4.4 out of 5 stars 100 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Coupland's Generation X and Shampoo Planet explored the ennui of a generation of young adults, reared on a promiscuous diet of mass culture, who regard politics, sex, the job market, global events and religion with the same degree of ironic apathy. His new collection of stories offers variations on that same theme, a series of loosely connected, escapist adventures in which a 30-year-old narrator flees a middling job and hits the road in quest of authentic spiritual experience, reflecting with mixed nostalgia and despair upon past events, from his insular suburban upbringing to his recently dissolved marriage. In the opening story, "Little Creatures," the narrator, harassed by legal troubles and recriminating phone calls from his ex-wife, accompanies his young daughter on a car trip north from Vancouver into a primeval landscape enveloped in snow. After his car conks out in a desolate stretch of Nevada, the protagonist of "In the Desert" meets a wizened vagrant who feeds him cold fast-food before vanishing without a trace, leaving the narrator to muse about the transcendent value of "small acts of mercy." Like Generation X , the margins of which held snippets of data and other visual aids, Life After God is illustrated with childlike drawings of cute animals, appliances, barren landscapes, road signs and other symbols, a faux naif touch that underscores Coupland's fetish for lost innocence. Although these tales of escape from the taint of middle-class culture and technology occasionally do strike a note of real feeling, they succeed less as an allegory for a postmodern, post-ironic spiritual life than as an amusing travelogue for jaded, pop-culturally literate couch potatoes.
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In his first collection of stories, the author of Generation X (St. Martin's, 1991) and Shampoo Planet ( LJ 8/92) seeks understanding in a world gone mad, a world in which the lack of any spiritual center hastens people's rapid descent into an entropic black hole. Coupland's characters are lost souls, wandering on widely divergent paths, all seeking to fill an aching void. His vivid depictions of life's greatest fears (including chilling vignettes about the bomb going off) remind us that human beings have the ultimate power to destroy but lack the moral fiber to end such a threat altogether. Throughout this striking, sometimes poignant, sometimes horrifying book, Coupland poses thought-provoking and troubling philosophical questions that will challenge readers. In "Gettysburg," a character thinks, "Imagine that I am drowning and I reach within myself to save that one memory which is me--what is it?" Illustrated by the author. Recommended for all libraries. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/93.
- Kevin M. Roddy, Univ. of Hawaii at Hilo Lib.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; Original ed. edition (March 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671874349
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671874346
  • Product Dimensions: 4.4 x 1.3 x 6.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (100 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #326,807 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By EA Solinas HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 25, 2003
Format: Paperback
I was only recent introduced to Douglas Coupland by a pal of mine who pestered me for months to try his books. Now I'm glad she did. "Life After God" has a somewhat experimental feel to the narrative, but it's a successful experiment if it is.
Coupland explores the concept: "You are the first generation raised without religion." Or more specifically, how human beings (all of which are born with a drive to believe in something -- religion, politics, art) respond to the material-driven world. Meditations on what separates humans from animals, imagining a nuclear explosion and how it would immediately impact the people who die in it, a philosophical bout with depression, and how people respond to their "lives after God."
Disregard the initially off-putting title of the book, because that title really doesn't reflect what the book is about. At the end of one short story, the narrator concludes, "My secret is that I need God." Not the way religious fanatic Dana does, which is more needy and superficial, but rather in a deep and primal way. And Coupland doesn't go overboard trying to explain it to the readers -- he just writes it and lets it sink in.
It has a slightly odd format; the pages are tiny, and the parts of each short story are more like connected vignettes, some only a few sentences long. And it's sprinkled with cute little drawings, like Coupland doodled on his manuscript. (Rain, boxes, computers, matches, and a parakeet with a key in its beak, among others) As in Coupland's other books, there is a sort of unhappy optimism to these stories, and Coupland's musings about how a lack of emphasized God has affected our ability to love and believe.
"Life After God" is not exactly an ordinary book. But it touches very well on hard-to-write-about topics and its messages lingered for a long time in my mind.
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Format: Paperback
"Life After God" is a genuinely morose, sad, melancholic collection of stories dealing with loneliness, isolation and unhappiness. Most of its characters are numbly horrified by where they find themselves in life.

The stories here deal with that in-between world of the childishness of youth and the maturity of adulthood -- and how the people existing in that world make the transition. Some simply take the step, while others -- the people here -- can't help but pause and reflect, to question it, to wonder if it's even sensible.

Coupland's premise seems to be that this young generation of the '90s, so deadened by irony, so empty and unfeeling, experience this crushing loneliness because they are without religion (which is something I don't agree with, since I side with Marx and think of religion as nothing more than an opiate).

Coupland does understand his characters, though, and as someone who's just a bit younger, I identified with them (even when I found them pretentious and dramatic). There are times when I felt like Coupland was stealing my thoughts. Showing me conversations I've had about the worries and insecurities in my life.

The greatest thing about "Life After God" are the staggering and utterly true thoughts Coupland drops here and there, which are so perfectly accurate, they leave you gut-punched.

I probably enjoyed the final two stories the least, and "In The Desert" the most, but "Life After God" is an excellent story collection that displays Coupland's considerable talent.
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Format: Paperback
This splendidly written book captivates the reader with compassion for the main character as he stumbles through the mistakes and beauty he has created in his life. The book follows the journey of a person who is trying to discover who he is in the midst of a fallen world, void spirituality and broken dreams. I'm a huge fan of the author, Douglas Coupland, and I feel that this is by far his best work. It will make you laugh, cry and ponder this crazy thing we call existence.
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Format: Hardcover
Two things stuck with me from the book Fight Club: (1) the line "Your father is your model for God" and (2) I wish I'd read it before I visited Blarney Castle.

The reason I bring up "Fight Club" is that "Life After God" posits "You are the first generation raised without religion," and "Fight Club" says men today are a generation raised by our mothers. So, I guess the problem boils down to "Where's Poppa?"

My friend Todd loaned me this book after I graduated college. I felt really hollow then, like a robot that required pop-culture and irony to survive. All the characters in "Life After God" feel hollow, and it was comforting to read about them. I felt less alone afterward, and somehow the book gave me hope for a better future, even though it features a story about the apocalypse.

I guess the key thing is that the book sparked me to feel again, shaking up some long dormant emotions. It's a quick read that I usually recommend to depressed friends.
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Format: Paperback
About 8 years ago I spent the night at a friend's house one night and had severe insomnia, so I picked up this book from her bookshelf and started reading it. I had never even heard of Douglas Coupland before. The book was so good that I read it the whole way through that night. It's very intense and hit me at a difficult time in my life. It was like reading the Bible- manna to my soul. I have gone on to read every Coupland book I could find, and they are all touching and engaging. I even met him at a book signing here in DC. He's not how I imagined him- he's very unassuming. Anyway, this book is great, just like all of his.
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