In Generation X author Coupland's latest, Karen, a thirtysomething divorced housewife, arrives at a hotel bar near the Toronto airport to rendezvous with a man she met on the Internet. Also at the bar are Rick, the bartender; Luke, a pastor who has just stolen $20,000 from his church; and Rachel, a striking but weirdly clueless young blonde. These four characters eventually pair off, but not until a global crisis has erupted around the oil market and unexplained chemical explosions seem to herald an apocalypse. Along with other players who enter and leave, the main characters engage in involved discussions on the meaning of life, as might be expected under such circumstances. These discussions range from the confessional and personal to larger issues both sacred and profane. VERDICT Eminently readable, humorous, and philosophical if at times slightly lightweight, this is a worthwhile novel that may also appeal to younger readers. It grew out of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's Massey Lecture series, which Coupland headlines this October in Canada.—Jim Coan, SUNY Coll. at Oneonta Lib.