Skip Navigation

Submitted Literature

The Coma

By Alex Garland


Alex Garland’s “The Beach” examines what might be viewed as a collective drug induced psychosis, while “The Coma” utilises pictures and narration to examine the effect of severe head injury and coma on perception and memory.

Key Themes:

  • Head Injury
  • Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
  • Revealing Reads

Significant Quotes / Pages

“During the cab ride from the hospital, I had felt apprehensive about what psychological fall-out I might expect from the attack.  It seemed to me that it would be at home that the fall-out would make itself felt, as I tried to reintroduce myself to normality after such an abnormal and shocking incident.  The familiarity of home would force a juxtaposition that the unfamiliarity of the hospital had not.  Specifically, I think I was concerned about nightmares – reliving the attack in a dream world, where perhaps the dream would loop endlessly; where the attack might be even more brutal and unpleasant than its real counterpart.”


“But the feeling remained.  Whether I was or I wasn’t, I felt translucent.”


“It had all worked out like this:

I’m attacked.

I fall unconscious.

I think I wake.

The world is fractured and weird.

I think I’m traumatised.

I think I’m brain-damaged.

I realise I am neither, I’m in a coma.

I realise I have to wait.

So I plan.

I look a catalyst, and I find a fragment of a memory, in the form of Miss Molly.

By searching, and by coaxing, I find more fragments.

Gardens, swings, bricks and windows.

They lead me to the house where I grew up.

Where the Miss Molly memory is placed in context.

Where I become light and weightless.

And the memory becomes complete.

As complete as it needs to be.

And-perhaps this is where I congratulate myself the most-I do all this alone.  I do all this alone, everything I achieve, I achieve alone, because it’s my head I’m locked into, and I share this space with nobody but myself.”

Reference: Alex, Garland. 2004. The Coma. London: Faber and Faber, 2005


- Charley Baker
Date Review Submitted: Friday 20th March 2009