THE COMA

Alex Garland, Author, Garland Alex, Author, Nicholas Garland, Illustrator . Riverhead $19.95 (208p) ISBN 978-1-57322-273-0

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. Agent, Robin Straus. Author tour. (July 6)

Reviewed on: 06/21/2004
Release date: 06/01/2004
Genre: Fiction
Paperback - 160 pages - 978-0-571-22307-7
Paperback - 200 pages - 978-1-59448-085-0
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-4406-0439-3
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 208 pages - 978-1-4406-0524-6
Hardcover - 160 pages - 978-0-571-22308-4
Open Ebook - 208 pages - 978-1-4406-2830-6
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