5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Take a picture,
This review is from: Polaroids from the Dead (Paperback)
Skeleton fairy tales. Deadheads. Youths who hang around cemetaries. Marilyn Monroe. Fires. All these crop up in Douglas Coupland's atmospheric collection of essays and short stories, "Polaroids From the Dead," topped by the picture of a curiously blank-faced Sharon Tate.
Coupland populates "Polaroids" with people who contemplate the past, and how it fringes on the present: mothers telling their children parables, an older woman revelling in a Dead concert, a younger group observing aging hippies. And he himself is in quite a bit of it. There are essays on Brentwood (the site of Marilyn Monroe's mysterious death), a trip to Germany post-Berlin Wall, a letter to late rocker Kurt Cobain, descriptions of Palo Alto, and musings on the human preoccupations with crime, celebrities, fame, aging, death, and dead celebrities.
"Polaroids From The Dead" seems like an apt title for this book. Each short story isn't really a story. There's no true beginning and no end. It's just a snippet that shows the outlook and some of the life of the people in it, and their thoughts. While this type of writing is very vivid while you're actually reading it, it makes the characters difficult to remember later. Likewise, the essays show one of the facets of Coupland's outlook. It's pensive, a little sad at times, and at other times just provokes your thoughts and makes you wonder.
Likewise, the black-and-white photographs sprinkled through the book are curiously intimate; some of them (like a burning stick of dynamite) don't make sense until you're partway through the story. OJ and Nicole, models of T-Rexes, the Vietnam monument, flowers and skeletons turn up in the photographs. They don't add a great deal, except perhaps to underline the words Coupland writes.
"Polaroids From The Dead" is a collection of snapshots of all kinds -- photos, experiences, and stories. Meditative, melancholy and atmospheric.