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. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 02/28/1994 Release date: 03/01/1994 Genre: Fiction
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