The Coma by Alex Garland, Nicholas Garland |, Paperback | Barnes & Noble
The Coma

The Coma

3.5 16
by Alex Garland, Nicholas Garland
     
 

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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

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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Evocative… unsettling.” –The San Francisco Chronicle

“A strange, compelling ride into that realm where nothing is what it seems—and where night never really wakes up.” –The Times (London)

“Mind-bending… If you’re the kind of reader who likes perusing ten pages of a book before bed, be warned. Once you start this novel is it impossible to stop reading.” –The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Might just be the most perfectly paces novel since Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam.” –The St. Petersburg Times

“Unputdownable… A dark and sometimes terrifying story that derives its somber beauty from the directness and precision of Garland’s writing.” –Salon.com

“Spare in its scope and piercing in its focus on subconscious metaphysics. Garland constructs a literal mind game. The Coma repeatedly pulls the rug out from under the reader, yet somehow maintains a coherent image of Carl’s mental state.” –Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Urgent and unsettling… compelling and chilling.” –The Observer

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

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594480850
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
07/28/2005
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
500,378
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.56(d)
Age Range:
18 - 17 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
“Evocative… unsettling.” –The San Francisco Chronicle

“A strange, compelling ride into that realm where nothing is what it seems—and where night never really wakes up.” –The Times (London)

“Mind-bending… If you’re the kind of reader who likes perusing ten pages of a book before bed, be warned. Once you start this novel is it impossible to stop reading.” –The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Might just be the most perfectly paces novel since Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam.” –The St. Petersburg Times

“Unputdownable… A dark and sometimes terrifying story that derives its somber beauty from the directness and precision of Garland’s writing.” –Salon.com

“Spare in its scope and piercing in its focus on subconscious metaphysics. Garland constructs a literal mind game. The Coma repeatedly pulls the rug out from under the reader, yet somehow maintains a coherent image of Carl’s mental state.” –Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Urgent and unsettling… compelling and chilling.” –The Observer

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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