Read Polaroids from the Dead by Douglas Coupland Online


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 garnDouglas 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 garnered the highest praise from fans and critics alike. At last, Coupland has assembled a wide variety of stories and personal "postcards" about pivotal people and places that have defined our modern lives. Polaroids from the Dead  is a skillful combination of stories, fact and fiction -- keen outtakes on life in the late 20th century, exploring the recent past and a society obsessed with celebrity, crime and death. Princess Diana, Nicole Brown Simpson and Madonna are but some of the people scrutinized....

Title : Polaroids from the Dead
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780060987213
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 198 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Polaroids from the Dead Reviews

  • Tfitoby
    2019-04-04 15:20

    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 remaining disconnected, he uses found photographs to enhance the message at the collections core. To use a quote from Downton Abbey, "things are changing." As always Coupland writes well but my attention wavered from piece to piece and as a whole it failed to sustain my enjoyment.

  • Jay
    2019-04-16 11:24

    Not what I was expecting.

  • R.
    2019-04-09 10:26

    Whatchoo Talkin' 'bout, Bruce Willis? "What's with all these hippies kissing my girl, why don't they ever wash? What did we ever do to that cult that made them so violent? Whoo-hoo, I look just like Charlie Manson, oh-whoah, and you're Sharon Tate...I don't care what they grok about us anyway, I don't care about that!" - WeezerThose MTV Buzz Bin friendly lyrics from the 90s are what I remember most about the 90s. That, and the couch potato friendly, Beavis and Butthead target-marketed, hit MTV video wherein rising auteur Spike Jonez integrated video of the band into the Eyes Wide Shut orgy scene. Yeah. Okay. I'm just poking fun, extrapolating from a quote in this book wherein a character states out loud that all the females at the day-glow rock show look like Tate, all the males look like Manson. But, seriously, I do congratulate myself on the fact that this mish-mosh of images, parody, irony, timeslip, timeslap, etcetera is what we all took out of the 20th century and left orphaned (and/or partial-birth abortioned) at the doorstep of the First Days of the Last Days of the Church of the Twenty First Century once this communal Rosemary's Baby began to cry, beg, talk, stare silently, claw, foam at the mouth, etcetera. A state of mind that we're only now starting to reclaim, feverishly waving our rain-soiled ticket stubs at the confused lady behind the counter at the Overly Socially Mediated Chinese Laundromat and Internet Cafe Sex Robot Emporium and Dollar Store. Anyways. This is a pleasant collection of essays by Douglas Coupland, wherein he remembers the 90s as a series of Grateful Dead concert short stories, Kurt Cobain's death, half-hearted backstage political involvements and intrigues (circa 1992), Vancouver bridges, post-Wall fall German tourism, and O.J. Simpson. Needless to say, Coupland's experience of the 90s is not mine (and probably not yours) but exactly what you'd expect from a razor's edge, upper middle-class white-privilege art-major Baby Boomer. Nothing here about Austin Powers, Stone Temple Pilots, rap or Ross Perot. Lollapalooza and Zooropa. Fuckin' Phish and Blues Traveler and the forever-spiral of porn site pop-up windows that no amount of corner-X clicking would terminate, eradicate. Indeed, that clicking? That would only accelerate the bombardment of come-ons. Nothing. Nothing here about these more common experiences of the...of the 90s. Maybe I'm just being cranky. ...Yeah, I'm just being cranky. I'm being cranky and a jerk. But, Coupland? I put off reading this for years because it looked like a picture book, not a book proper. Sorry I did, because it's actually pretty darn good once you realize the whole "spotlight on the 90s" angle was a publisher's demand, a joke.

  • Daniel
    2019-03-27 10:39

    My least favorite Douglas Coupland book so far. This is for Coupland's die hard fans ONLY. Reading it in 2017 is a little redundant and weird as most of it is about subjects that were very much relevant in the 90's, and may seem ridiculous to read about these days, after all that has been happening since its first publication. Grateful Dead concerts, the first days of the internet and upheavals in celebrity culture - In hindsight, I think I should have read it much earlier. The Brentwood part was the best part of the book and perhaps the only reason to read it (except maybe some stories in the first part). Coupland's breakdown of different aspects and ingredients of Brentwood is remarkable.

  • Stephen
    2019-04-03 14:16

    One of Coupland's best, in my opinion.

  • Donnie
    2019-04-02 18:38

    It was a gift. It was terrible.

  • Susan Strickland
    2019-04-13 16:33

    I believe Polaroids from the Dead was Coupland's fifth book, but I'm glad I never read it until now. It's a real treat for a long-time fan! A mix of essays, "Microstories," letters, memories, and travel writing, this book is visual (typically) and personal and very revealing. Young Douglas discovers James Rosenquist at age 8, and making his own "Rosenquists" becomes his new hobby. Years later he is driving through Washington State, crying for Kurt Cobain in a coma. A middle-aged Deadhead-turned-software-millionaire attends a Dead concert with his surgeon pal, and mourns the evaporation of the middle class; meanwhile the Shampoo Planet-esque kids flee the Dead concert to listen to "songs about robots - written by cash registers." In Brentwood, Los Angeles (a real place that does not technically exist), lives of people are "denarrated," and history is as irrelevant as morality. The lack of storyline is static, no matter what Marilyn Monroe, Lisa Marie Presley, or O.J. Simpson might be up to. In contrast, Palo Alto is a charming and gracious "dreamscape."We all know D.C. is a master of perfectly capturing moments in history (a blurb on the jacket calls him a "zeitgeist chaser") but in this case, he takes the early years of the 1990s and shows how their stories repeat themselves, through the past and into the future. That being said, don't read this book until you're ready to return fully to 1994 for a day or two. The nostalgia may overwhelm you.

  • Rand
    2019-03-26 14:24

    If you want to understand the tenuous transition with which western culture entered the 90s, read this book. it is excellent.

  • Iman
    2019-04-20 17:38

    '' And here's something we've all noticed: during power failures we sing songs, but the moment the electricity returns, we atomize.I am choosing to live my life in permanent power failure. I look at the screens and glossy pages and I don't let them become memories.When I meet people, I imagine them in a world of darkness. The only lights that count are the sun, the candles, the fireplace and the light inside of you, and if I seem strange to you at times, it's only because I'm switching off the power, trying to help us both, trying to see you and me as the people we really are. ''Polaroids from the Dead is a collection of nostalgic reflections of multifaceted generations and personal experiences set in a well captured past as context and stage.

  • Joseph
    2019-04-11 12:19

    The book is a series of short stories with its main characters post-collegiates encountering and reacting to events of the day (i.e., Kurt Cobain’s suicide, OJ Simpson’s murder case) and their lives in general. Contained therein are a sort of commentary by the author in a detached, sometimes snarky, and often witty manner. The book is a sort of Salinger for the 90s with the angst and ennui brought on by the early dotcom years where the aforementioned events become the characters’ defining moments absent the grander events of previous generations (i.e., WWI/II, the Depression, Vietnam).

  • Sarah
    2019-04-15 12:31

    Pretty good I liked the one with the journalist and the Brentwood story.

  • Kelly Jones
    2019-03-25 14:24

    a+ nostalgia and cultural critique

  • Meg
    2019-04-15 14:42

    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 photographs to try to capture the essence of the first half of the decade.In 1996, this would have seemed tedious. The early 90s had just passed. How can you feel nostalgic about events that occurred only two or three years before?One of Coupland’s suppositions is that the early 90s lacked an identity. The world was changing, but it hadn’t clearly redefined itself yet. The 90s would become the decade when people became wired and overnight millionaires were made and unmade in the dot-com waves. However, in the first years of the decade, the millionaires were still few and the internet was still developing. The time was defined by its very lack of definition.When Polaroids came out, I was a starry-eyed, forward-looking high schooler, busy planning my future and expecting the best. A book looking backward with an intensely introspective tone would have bored me to tears. Now, with a few more life experiences under my belt and twenty years from 1990, the book makes some sense. It’s like a little literary time capsule, preserving a period in time that was otherwise quite forgettable.

  • Tyson
    2019-04-09 13:21

    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 yourself to stay in the media. The result is what he calls "denarration" which strips most of one's sense of self and of history. another piece was about travelling around Vancouver with a German reporter. I don't understand why he had a week to spend with this guy and show him around. I'd love to see a book by Coupland on how things are today. In the mid 1990's the potential of the internet was recognized, but certinly didn't idenitfy social networking, instant messaging, and so forth. I wonder what Coupland would say bout these developements. I also wish he had written about the rave scene. That was a truly 1990's phenomena, but then again, I think it might have been for a slightly younger crowd than his. I also wonder if there is a like-minded voice who can fill Coupland's shoes, to continue cultural commentary for a younger generation.

  • Shannon
    2019-04-05 10:24

    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 it's meaning. Diana, the hipster turned real estate agent who embraces her hairy legs and armpits or Stacey a college fresh man who think she looks similar to 1960's photographs of girls like Twiggy dressed up as mod or in flower printed ensembles.Coupland incorporates his own experiences living in the 90's as he travels the world and lives through big events like the death of Kurt Cobain. Looking through all the photos it's errie to see how pop and rock culture have transformed over the years. Polaroids from The Dead is an artifact dug up to reveal a life style and culture which thrived during the 1960's to the late 90's, a culture which is still some what present in today's society. This book was good but I was more drawn to it because of it's pictures rather than the writing.

  • Myles
    2019-03-21 13:24

    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 humor and digs under the surface of modern life. He is a quality writer, but I have to admit that my attention started lagging at the last section, I suppose the O.J. Simpson trial and controversy has lost its flash. That, might actually prove Coupland's point. His writing, in here and elsewhere, mostly deals with the new methods people use to communicate and distance themselves at the same time. His message is just as important in the age of Facebook as it was in the 90s at the dawn of the internet age.

  • David Ward
    2019-04-03 18:41

    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, the author apparently either ran out of Dead tales or forgot the topic of his book, for the rest of the essays which make up the volume have little or nothing to do with the Dead. This book is a worthy addition to any collector's library of books about the Grateful Dead or other collection of Dead arcana. However, if you are a reader just beginning to bone up on the Dead or the Sixties, this is not a volume to start with. My rating: 6/10, finished 1/24/14.

  • Angela
    2019-03-30 18:42

    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 you might want to give this a try even if you don't enjoy his novels. Far from being a random selection of topics, the short pieces in the book all have a lot to say about human nature, a topic on which Coupland is one of the best writers around, period.

  • Antonis Moras
    2019-04-16 12:41

    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 precise as always with the same tongue in cheek attitude. The second part (leaving the interview with the german guy aside) was for me nothing more than a collection of scattered information and pieces. If this book did not include the second part I would have still been happy with it.

  • Paige
    2019-03-25 11:18

    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 her youth. I should add a caveat to this all, and say I was only a child during the 90s, so there are likely things in the book I did not pick up on, or that would have resonated more strongly had I been older during that time period.

  • Corey Dutson
    2019-03-23 17:40

    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 frustrating for me. I was difficult to read a book by an author whom I generally look to for answers, or at the very least, an author who aligns with what i am about. Maybe I'm just too young, and this will all make fare more sense to me in 20 years time. I guess I'll have to wait.

  • sim
    2019-04-12 10:23

    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 nowThe 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 myself and tomorrow when i rise with a ne sun and a new life, i will redeem myself and i will find you, and you will be here in my life, and we will walk the island's roads together

  • Daniel Kukwa
    2019-04-04 12:33

    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 OJ Simpson/vacuous California non-culture obsession. The end result is a work that staggers between (1) being rather profound, AND (2) feeling profoundly dated.

  • Pastie
    2019-03-27 17:41

    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.

  • Deke
    2019-04-07 11:16

    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).

  • June
    2019-04-14 18:36

    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.

  • Trin
    2019-04-03 14:15

    I found much of this pretty dull, aside from the essay about the Lions Gate Bridge in Vancouver, which I had already read inCity 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.

  • Daniel
    2019-04-07 17:40

    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.

  • Kristen
    2019-04-12 18:24

    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?

  • Daiquiri
    2019-03-25 12:19

    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.