The Coma

( 16 )

Overview

When Carl awakens from a coma after being attacked on a subway train, life around him feels unfamiliar, even strange. He arrives at his best friend's house without remembering how he got there; he seems to be having an affair with his secretary, which is pleasant but surprising. He starts to notice distortions in his experience, strange leaps in his perception of time. Is he truly reacting with the outside world, he wonders, or might he be terribly mistaken? So begins a dark psychological drama that raises ...

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The Coma

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Overview

When Carl awakens from a coma after being attacked on a subway train, life around him feels unfamiliar, even strange. He arrives at his best friend's house without remembering how he got there; he seems to be having an affair with his secretary, which is pleasant but surprising. He starts to notice distortions in his experience, strange leaps in his perception of time. Is he truly reacting with the outside world, he wonders, or might he be terribly mistaken? So begins a dark psychological drama that raises questions about the the human psyche, dream versus reality, and the boundaries of consciousness. As Carl grapples with his predicament, Alex Garland - author of The Beach and the screenplay for 28 Days Later, plays with conventions and questions our assumptions about the way we exist in the world, even as it draws us into the unsettling and haunting book about a lost suitcase and a forgotten identity.

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Editorial Reviews

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. Agent, Robin Straus. Author tour. (July 6) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
A man badly clobbered on the Underground awakens from a coma-or does he? With woodblock illustrations; from the author of The Beach. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Man gets attacked on train, goes into coma, wakes up-or does he? Though British author Garland started out writing cinematically inspired, densely layered backpacker fiction like The Beach (1997) and The Tesseract (1999), his newest goes for something more terse, more abstract, and, ultimately, less interesting. Carl is taking the tube home late from work, still penning marks on some papers he's carrying-a manuscript? legal documents?-when a gang of toughs gets on and starts harassing a girl who tries to get away from them by sitting closer to Carl. They follow, Carl intervenes, and next thing he knows he's getting the holy hell knocked out of him. As "a remote viewer," Carl watches his body in the hospital, the nurse who seems overly interested, his girlfriend/secretary, and pretty soon himself waking up. Not long after he's supposedly rejoined the waking world, it becomes apparent to Carl that things aren't the way they should be. While his life still seems to retain the basic parameters that he remembers-his girlfriend, his best friend Anthony-other details aren't so reassuring. There's that problem with vast swathes of time slipping away from him, and then the waking up covered in blood-soaked bandages, even though he can't find a wound to have caused the bleeding. Carl figures out, long after the reader has, that he's likely still in a dream-state, that no matter how many times he may think he has woken up, he's probably still dreaming, as everything has that slippery, indescribable feel of dreams. But The Twilight Zone this isn't, and Garland's desire to pare his writing to the essentials hasn't left much for the reader to grab on to. The blank march of pages is broken up by 40block prints (by the author's father, a well-known artist) but little else of interest. Much like a dream itself: a novel that eludes definition, makes little sense, and is quickly erased from memory. Author tour. Agent: Robin Straus/Robin Straus Agency
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781594480850
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 7/28/2005
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,142,188
  • Product dimensions: 5.32 (w) x 8.06 (h) x 0.55 (d)

Meet the Author

Alex Garland is the author of the bestselling generational classic The Beach and of The Tesseract, a national bestseller and New York Times Notable Book. He also wrote the original screenplay of the critically acclaimed film 28 Days Later. He lives in London.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3.5
( 16 )
Rating Distribution

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(5)

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 17 of 16 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 26, 2013

    Excellent read.

    Also check out The Tesseract

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 24, 2012

    Weird and wonderful

    This was my first book of his to read and I really enjoyed it. The pictures are quite odd, but really help make the story I couldn't put down till I was done. The naritive is switches speeds a bit and becomessterile to complimemt the story. Have given copies of it to some of my friends.

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  • Posted October 27, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    The Coma

    There is two ways one can look at this book, in perspective with the works of its author and in perspective with everything else. One example I may give is watching ¿The Village¿ and saying it is not Shyamalan¿s best work¿in fact probably his worst, but then, compared to most of the Hollywood crap out there, the movie is still pretty good.<BR/><BR/>While not to that extreme, the same serves for this book. Having read ¿The Beach¿ and ¿The Tesseract¿, ¿The Coma¿ seems very watered down, lacking the complexities that one is used to seeing from his characters and yet¿I found it to be a very fun read and one that was troubling accurate in its portrayal or rather its disruption of reality.<BR/><BR/>Here, a man apparently named Carl, finds himself going home after being in a coma for an undetermined amount of time. Then strange things begin to happen, which leave him to wonder if he has suffered some serious psychological trauma. And as the story progresses, time and reality bend even more into a trippy story that amuses as much as it thrills.<BR/><BR/>Though much shorter than his other works and much simpler, the story was still enticing and I found myself reading it all in one sitting. Thankfully, I bought a second book at the store with it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2006

    Great read, But wheres the ending?

    I read this book in three hours. Absolutley could not put it down (except to cook dinner, I was STARVING). I love the writing style.. twisted, almost trippy, rushed but well thought-out. Only, I got to the end, to those last few pages, nearly breathless, excited to find out the answers to all those questions Carl kept asking himself... and...HEY!! Where did the ending go? I must have bought a defective book. Im missing the finale! Besides never really knowing what happened at the end, I still recommend this book to everyone. It was well worth the money I spent.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2005

    At least it has a nice cover

    If you've read the description on the back of the book, you've read the book. Not much else is going on here but some fuzzy pictures and print large enough so you won't need your glasses.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2004

    Alex Garland has lost my trust

    You know when you stumble upon an author that has written an outstanding novel and you can't wait to read his next. And the next effort is so different, yet outstanding as well? You would expect his third effort to be just as compelling. Well Garland has officially lost my trust, his 'The Coma' was that disappointing. The Beach and Tesseract were such outstanding efforts, I could not wait to pick up The Coma. I did notice that it was only about 200 pages long, which made me a bit suspicious. And I saw almost immediately that the chapters were a page, a page and a half, sometimes only a paragraph long. But the writing lacked everything that his first two novels were so full of, and that was the most disappointing part. Almost couldn't finish it. I think it was either a vehicle for his brother's childish illustrations, or he was under a deadline from his publisher to finish out his contracted third book. Real real disappointing from a big fan. I will cast a wary eye on his next effort. He will need a huge rebound to gain my trust back.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 4, 2004

    its a good one

    This book is amazing. Typical Garland style, youll finish it in five minutes. Better than the Tesseract, quite possibly his best yet. Highly original and very entertaining. Mad props to Garland for yet another amazing story relayed through amazing writing. please read this

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 10, 2004

    awesome

    really awesome book took me an hour and a half to finish it. but the last line of the last chapter makes me curious.

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    Posted September 22, 2010

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    Posted January 8, 2010

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    Posted December 29, 2009

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    Posted September 30, 2009

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    Posted December 30, 2010

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