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The Coma Paperback – July 5, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
In the latest novel by the bestselling author of the Generation X thriller The Beach, a young man who fell into a coma after being assaulted on the London Underground tries to piece his life back together. Shuttling in dreamlike fashion between his hospital bed and a hazy succession of places—his apartment, friends' houses, a record shop, a bookshop, his childhood home, a shrine—he sifts through conflicting memories of his past and unanswerable questions about his present. The novel reaches for Kafkaesque ambiguity—is the narrator awake or in a dream? did he ever come out of the coma? is there a difference between ourselves and our fantasies?—but Garland's parable feels more like an exercise than a true exploration, constricted by its sluggish pace and plodding prose ("I stood. I raised a hand. I said, 'Hey' "). Forty woodblock illustrations by the author's father, Sir Nicholas Garland, a political cartoonist and artist, are handsome but function as little more than filler. By the end of the story, with the narrator unable to tell the difference between reality and fantasy, he finally decides, "None of it was real. I didn't care." Chances are good the reader will feel the same way.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Bookmarks Magazine
Most reviewers compared The Coma to comic books or film, perhaps because, as a novel, it doesn’t hold up terribly well. Its brevity necessitates some glaring omissions, such as Carl’s age and job, and it’s tough to care about the characters when we don’t know much about them. Garland aims not so much to tell a good story as to examine and perhaps replicate altered states of consciousness. Some find the project intriguing, but for most, Garland’s insights aren’t worth their narrative price. Blending illustration with a quick-cutting style that hearkens back to Garland’s screenwriting days (he wrote the film “28 Days Later”), The Coma may hold some interest for those who enjoy literary experimentation for its own sake. For others, however, it may prove unsatisfying.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
So when I got The Coma, I had high expectations. I read through it quickly and at the end I was happy with it but also a bit let down. It has some great writing and it's a very interesting literary take on the world inside the head of a coma victim, but all in all it lacks the depth you expect from Garland. It's also just too short. It's 200pgs, sure, but it has a large font, looks to be double spaced, and about 50 of those pages are taken up by his father's (absolutely wonderful) woodcuts showing scenes from the book.
It would've been better if this was released in a collection of short stories from Garland, rather than attempting to stand on it's own.
I liked it quite a bit, and any Garland fan will, but beware, if you're looking for a "deeper meaning" or want a novel, this isn't it.