Picks and Pans Review: With This Latest Outing, Douglas Coupland, the Canadian Author of Generation X and Microserfs, Has Written His Strongest Novel to Date. Coma Tells the Story of Six High School Friends in Suburban Vancouver (a Place the Author Calls

updated 04/13/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

originally published 04/13/1998 AT 01:00 AM EDT

existentially gooey mess.

Coupland's pop-culture flourishes are intact (the title comes from a song by the '80s group the Smiths). However, Coma is hampered by many of its own plot and character devices, which fail to match the emotional gravity the author hopes to convey in this cautionary tale. (ReganBooks, $24)

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