In his 2010 CBC Massey Lectures acclaimed novelist and visual artist Douglas Coupland explores the modern crises of time, human identity, society, religion and macroeconomics and the afterlife in the form of a novel, a 5-hour story set in an airport cocktail lounge during a global disaster.
Five disparate people are trapped inside: Karen, a single mother waiting for her online date; Rick, the down-on-his-luck airport lounge bartender; Luke, a pastor on the run; Rachel, a cool Hitchcock blonde incapable of true human contact; and finally a mysterious voice known as Player One. Slowly, each reveals the truth about themselves while the world as they know it comes to an end.
The book asks as many questions as it answers, and readers will leave the story with no doubt that we are in a new phase of existence as a species -- and that there is no turning back.
In Coupland's real-time near-apocalyptic novel, a recovering alcoholic, a divorc e, a church-fund embezzler, a beautiful android-like woman, and a man who is distinguished by his prickly demeanor converge in an airport cocktail lounge at the precise moment when oil prices begin to rise and society begins to unravel around them. Such an intriguing premise could have lead to explorations of the nature of chaos and human resilience, but the author relies instead on cursory philosophizing, allowing his characters to ramble. The players emerge as near-caricatures who are forced to contend with each other's weaknesses and a small cast of strangers, from a sniper to a "false prophet" selling the Leslie Freemont Power Dynamics program. In one man's brusque assessment, the others are "a depressing grab bag of pop culture influences and cancelled emotions, driven by the sputtering engine of the most banal form of capitalism," words which reveal both the book's vivid style and an apt critique of modern consciousness. Though the book at times feels more like television than a richly conceived world, painting aspects of adults in crisis perhaps too broadly, it is redeemed an ending that allows some of them to survive.
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Quite a good read. You get to know the characters very well. Coupland is brilliant.