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Polaroids from the Dead

3.25  ·  Rating Details ·  2,634 Ratings  ·  72 Reviews
Douglas Coupland takes his sparkling literary talent in a new direction with this crackling collection of takes on life and death in North America -- from his sweeping portrait of Grateful Dead culture to the deaths of Kurt Cobain, Marilyn Monroe and the middle class.For years, Coupland's razor-sharp insights into what it means to be human in an age of technology have ...more
Paperback, 198 pages
Published September 20th 1997 by Harper Perennial (first published 1996)
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Sep 03, 2012 Tfitoby rated it liked it
A collection of short stories and essays that analyses 90s culture in North America from the perspective of somebody living through it.

Douglas Coupland is right up there as one of my favourite authors and this was my first experience of his short writings; a selection of themed pieces told in such a way that even the fiction felt like reality.

Dissecting the evolution of the generation he had previously inadvertently christened Generation X and the way we choose to connect with others whilst rema
Susan Strickland
Feb 01, 2015 Susan Strickland rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
One of Coupland's best, in my opinion.
Dec 17, 2009 Donnie rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: no one
Shelves: fiction
It was a gift. It was terrible.
Apr 29, 2010 Meg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone who wants to visit 1994 Memory Ln
Shelves: short-stories
I believe this is a book that is made better with age. I didn't expect to enjoy it, and so I've put off reading it for 15 years since it originally came out. I'm actually glad that I did, because I think it's a much better book now than it was 15 years ago.

Polaroids from the Dead is a collection of essays that Coupland wrote in the early 90’s and that appeared in various magazines and publications. Published in 1996, he collected the pieces into a single volume and illustrated them with photogra
Jan 23, 2008 Tyson rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This si a book about Coupland's ruminations on contemporary 1990s culture, such as the Grateful Dead, life in California and his native Vancouver, Canada. The peices on the Greateful Dead were fun to read, I can relate to that experience vicariously though my firends and the Greensoboro shows where I went to school.

The long-winded piece at the end on Bentwood, in Los Angeles was less to my liking, but interesting in Couplan's ruminations on fame, post-fame, and the need to continuously reinvent
Apr 03, 2008 Shannon rated it it was ok
Inspired by a collection of Polaroids he found in a drawer, the auther Douglas Coupland provides a variety of short stories that reveals his life and the changing culture seen during the early 90's. The book starts off with two fictional characters at a "Grateful Dead Concert". The two characters take on the stereotypical role of 1970's hippies, as they pop acid to entertwine themselves with the music and people surrounding them. Each picture shown in the book has a story behind it to reveal ...more
Polaroids from the Dead sits between Microserfs and Girlfriend in a Coma and is easily seen as a transitional point in Coupland's writing.

The three sections: stories set around Dead culture, pieces of travel writing and memories of Vancouver, and a lengthy bit of meditations on the LA community of Brentwood are thematically tied together with photos ranging from the iconic to the obscure and pages the color of an undeveloped Polaroid.

As in Life After God Coupland drops much of his surface humo
David Ward
Polaroids from the Dead by Douglas Coupland (Reagan Books 1996) (818) is an interesting little art book. The "Polaroids" referred to in the title are not photographs (though a few snapshots from the Grateful Dead parking lot are included)but are instead essays that capture moments in time or timeless moments of Deadheads on the road with the band. The book is divided into sections; the first section contains the aforementioned road tales. This section left me feeling all warm and fuzzy. However, ...more
May 19, 2011 Angela rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
To echo another reviewer, this is a much better book now than it was when it first came out. The content, of course, is the same, but I am a much different reader when this was published 15 years ago. At twenty I had to practice an ironic detachment from what Coupland was saying about the 1990s and who we were then; I thought he had no right to define "us". Now, I can see that his insight into the culture back then was crystal clear. He had it right all along.

Coupland is a gifted essayist, and y
Antonis Moras
Nov 20, 2014 Antonis Moras rated it it was ok
So that time came and this is a boring book by Douglas Coupland. A collection of shorter pieces and generally divided into two parts, the first half is the most conceptually structured and the theme is the lives of different people related to a grateful dead concert.The second part is forced to fill bookspace and its theme is Brentwood, LA. The first part was interesting, the hippie culture and its various permutations was something that u could expect from coupland, his remarks are clever and ...more
Dec 06, 2011 Paige rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book is a musing on 1990s culture, from a variety of fictional and non-fictional viewpoints. It was a bit scattered, but I don't think this detracts meaningfully from the point of it all. The short stories at the beginning are fantastic, probably my favourite part of the book, though some of his thoughts on B.C. also hit the spot. The last section of the book, about fame, was mildly incoherent at times, but it was fitting, and read a bit like a half-cut older lady rambling about the city of ...more
Corey Dutson
Dec 19, 2012 Corey Dutson rated it it was ok
Well... That was a book. I generally love Coupland, but this book felt off. While he generally tries to feel out poignant topics to expose, to pick away at, to muse upon, this book felt lost.

Maybe that was the point; to be a journey of denarration. This books feels like Coupland himself is trying to suss out the answers to questions he hasn't properly revealed to the user. He wanders almost aimlessly between stories that are barely connected.

Again, maybe that was the point, but it was frustrat
Mar 13, 2014 sim rated it liked it
Um ídolo com pés de barro?
Terei sido eu a mudar o meu gosto?
A verdade é que venerei Coupland nos anos 90 e as últimas coisas que li dele foram fracas.

Retenho deste livro um belo trecho e poucos mais:

"We all have a "you" in our life... someone out there who was to have spent the day with us, but who then went away for some reason. That special "you" is not here now
The sun has fallen into the world as i have fallen into the world, but the sun will not be judged for falling whereas i ill judge myse
Daniel Kukwa
A very strange work of...well, let's called it Coupland-on-auto-pilot-randomness. The first third is a fictional series of vignettes taking place at a Grateful Dead concert...and nails (in many ways) the lid on the coffin of the 1960s and 1970s by the "hard" realities of the 1990s. The second third of the book is a series of melancholy essays about cultural post-moderism...or should that be post-90s-isms. It's all well and good, but then the final third of the book lurches into the territory of ...more
Jul 17, 2012 Pastie rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
Recommended to Pastie by: Chris Starkey
Shelves: fiction
I'm grateful to the book, the well written concise stories inside it and the well selected photographs, particularly those about grave watching and the Lions Gate bridge in Vancouver, made me want to visit Vancouver, Canada and British Columbia and in doing so I met my wife. Which in itself a little like something out of Coupland novel.

Not only that, but it introduced me to Douglas Couplands work which I've enjoyed ever since.
Oct 05, 2014 Deke rated it it was ok
Rapid fire nouns, names, locations, references... perhaps this collection will be valuable and interesting in a century, but for now the early 90s are not that long ago, and the overall air a bit too smug for my taste. Exception: the final lengthy essay about Brentwood, CA (part of Los Angeles) that weaves together information about the city alongside Marilyn Monroe's death and OJ Simpson's trials to weave a damning portrait of the SoCal ethos (as a Northern Californian, smug hits the spot).
Dec 02, 2008 June rated it liked it
Recommended to June by:
The creativeness of this book is really intriguing. while I liked the theme, the Grateful Dead stories started to sound a little monotonous. I do enjoy the subtly sweet feeling of recognizing freeway names and areas of Oakland that are casually mentioned.
This is a good one to keep coming back to when the mood strikes. But somehow I found myself not quite interested enough to remember what I had read when returning to a middle page after a week or two of not picking it up.
Jun 14, 2007 Trin rated it it was ok
Shelves: essays, canadian-lit
I found much of this pretty dull, aside from the essay about the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver, which I had already read in City of Glass. (In fairness, Polaroids did come out first.) However, the final essay about Brentwood is wonderful. If you're a fan of L.A. neighborhoods, the book may be worth it just for that.
Jul 19, 2012 Daniel rated it liked it
I loved the first half of the book, which did a great job of reminding me what the Grateful Dead lots and shows were like. After that, though the book got less and less interesting for me, culminating in a dreary, detail-laden history and description of the neighborhood in LA in which OJ Simpson (may or may not have) killed Nicole Brown.
Oct 10, 2009 Kristen rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book takes snippets of 1990s California culture centered on celebrity, death, and crime, and applies these as a backdrop for a turning point in American culture as a whole. The narrative stories that make up our lives are sometimes lost in the pursuit of newness or fame - where does this leave us as individuals, and as a community?
Dec 03, 2008 Daiquiri rated it liked it
Recommends it for: people and dogs
Recommended to Daiquiri by: coopland fall program
i liked parts of this book. i liked the idea of this book. eventhough it takes the romance out of going to a grateful dead show it made me wish i had gone to one. but i would have been just like some of the characters in the stories-kind of clueless about the whole dead picture and aiming to get high.

Dec 22, 2009 Suzanne rated it did not like it
To be brutally honest, this book just seemed like a bunch of random rantings about absolutely nothing. It was like he had written it all down just to get the thoughts off his chest, and then haphazardly threw them into a book and sent it off to his publisher... and it only got published because of his past successes.

Normally I love Coupland, but this book was a huge disappointment.
Aug 30, 2015 Sergey rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction
The book is divided in three non-connected parts and, frankly, is a bit boring. To my liking the second part was the only worth reading as it is itself a collection of short concise stories. If you're a fan of Coupland, then you have already made up your my about reading this book, otherwise don't feel guilty about skipping that one.
Jun 10, 2008 M rated it it was ok
This was my least favorite of his books. Reminiscing is something that's always nice for the people involved in the history; however, it can be tedious for those outisders subjected to it. My boyfriend at the time loved it, so I gave it to him as a going-away gift. We broke up weeks later. Perhaps the book was bad karma...?
Jair Ibarra
May 23, 2015 Jair Ibarra rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Me gustó leerlo pero nunca supe que era lo que leía. Los cuentos cortos de los hippies en los conciertos de los Grateful dead fueron grandes, la carta a Kurt hizo que me dieran ganas de reconciliarme con Nirvana... No sé que decir sobre la tercera parte...
Apr 15, 2012 Katie rated it it was ok
I finally finished this book, after taking a good 1-2 years to read it. I love Copeland, think he's bizzare and interesting, but I COULD NOT get into this book. The stories seem pointless to me. There were some anecdotes that I enjoyed, but for the most part I had to force myself to read this.
Oct 02, 2012 Janice rated it really liked it
I must retread this now that I've read Talbot's The Season of the Witch, about San Francisco and including details about its Grateful Dead/free festival/Haight-Ashbury era. I'd like to get a first edition hardback, actually.
già, il titolo non è adatto. non è una questione di memoria, ma di istantanee che cominciano con un concerto dei grateful dead, e terminano con cinquanta pagine cinquanta di analisi della vita a brentwood, l.a.

lee aiko
Oct 15, 2010 lee aiko rated it really liked it
It's unfortunate that people feel that this book is just filled with rants and riff-raff. I think to each of the little short stories there are deeper meanings, and they are pleasing ones at that. Not the most amazing book, but definitely enjoyed it.
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Douglas Coupland is Canadian, born on a Canadian Air Force base near Baden-Baden, Germany, on December 30, 1961. In 1965 his family moved to Vancouver, Canada, where he continues to live and work. Coupland has studied art and design in Vancouver, Canada, Milan, Italy and Sapporo, Japan. His first novel, Generation X, was published in March of 1991. Since then he has published nine novels and sever ...more
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