The back cover of Douglas Coupland’s Life After God is pretty hard to not use as a description of what the book is.
“We are the first generation raised without God. We are creatures with strong religious impulses, yet they have nowhere to flow in this world of malls and TV, Kraft dinners and jets. How do we cope with loneliness? Anxiety? The collapse of relationships?
How do we reach the quiet, safe layer of our lives? In this compellingly innovative collection of stories, bestselling author Douglas Coupland responds to these themes. Cutting through the hype of modern living to find a rare grace amid our lives, he uncovers a new kind of truth for a culture stuck on fast-forward. A culture seemingly beyond God.”
And yet, as apt a description as that is, it is really only a tantalizing tease compared to the text and context within the covers of the book. It is unlike anything else of his I have read up to this point; Generation X, Microserfs, and Shampoo Planet all have little inklings of heavier messages, but Life After God is much more thought-provoking.
What do you need to know beyond what you have just read? There are some really wonderful pieces of prose that I’ll let you discover for yourself, but know this; time, memory, and meaning are three themes that creep up time and time again. So, without further ado, here are the 10 quotes that most spoke to me, which is reason enough for you to pick up the book because there are many quotes worthy of being on this list, I just had to narrow it down.
“Some day you cross this thin line and you really realize that we need to protect ourselves from ourselves.”
“Time, Baby–so much, so much time left until the end of my life–sometimes I go crazy at how slowly time passes yet how quickly my body ages.”
“Now: I believe that you’ve had most of your important memories by the time you’re thirty.” (This is a particularly jarring idea to read if thirty is behind you…)
“Time ticks by; we grow older. Before we know it, too much time has passed and we’ve missed the chance to have had other people hurt us. To a younger me this sounded like luck; to an older me this sounds like a quiet tragedy.”
“…in spite of everything that has happened in my life, I have never lost the sensation of always being on the brink of some magic revelation–that if only I would look closely enough at the world, then that magic revelation would be mine–if only I could wake up just that little bit more…”
“The 1970s and disaster movies: seeing The Poseidon Adventure for the first time–the first movie I venture downtown, to see on my own at the Orpheum Theater to watch a world tip upside down. Earthquake; The Omega Man; The Andromeda Strain; Soylent Green; Towering Inferno; Silent Running, films nobody makes anymore because they are all projecting so vividly inside our heads–to be among the last people inhabiting worlds that have vanished, ignited, collapsed and been depopulated.” (For a book published in 1994, this is still a relevant thought 25 years later.)
“This is not an easy thing to do. Precisely articulating one’s beliefs is difficult.”
“And then I felt sad because I realized that once people are broken in certain ways, they can’t ever be fixed, and this is something nobody ever tells you when you are young and it never fails to surprise you as you grow older as you see the people in your life break one by one. You wonder when your turn is going to be, or if it’s already happened.”
“Our conversations are never easy, but as I–we–get older, we are all finding that our conversations must be spoken. A need burns inside us to share with others what we are feeling. Beyond a certain age, sincerity ceases to feel pornographic.”
“Thousands of years ago, a person just assumed that life for their kids would be identical to the one that they led. Now you assume that life for the next generation–hell, life next week–is going to be shockingly different than life today. When did we start thinking this way? What did we invent? Was it the telephone? The car? Why did this happen? I know there’s an answer somewhere.”
If any of these quotes grab you, then go out and grab this book… There is plenty more where that came from!