Sunday, 31 January 2010

Book #07


Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland


The story of one family piecing itself back together after a tragic highschool shooting, Hey Nostradamus! is Douglas Coupland's most soulful, piercing and searching novel yet. Pregnant and secretly married, Cheryl Anway scribbles her last will and testament -- and erie premonition -- on a school binder shortly before a rampaging trio of misfit classmates gun her down in a high school cafeteria. Overrun with paranoia, teenage angst and religious zeal in the ensuing massacre's wake, this sleepy Vancouver neighbourhood declares its saints, brands its demons and finally moves on. But for a handful of people still reeling from that horrific day, life remains perpetually derailed. Four dramatically different characters tell their stories in their own words: Cheryl, who calmly narrates her own death; Jason, the boy no one knew was her husband, still marooned ten years later by his loss; Heather, the woman trying to love the shattered Jason; and Jason's father Reg, a cruelly religious man no one suspects is still worth loving. Each wrestles with God, self-defeat and a crippling inability to hold on to those they love. Coupland's most surprising and soulful novel yet, rich with his trademark cultural acuity and dark humour, Hey Nostradamus! ties themes of alienation, violence and misguided faith into a fateful and unforgettable knot from which four people must untangle their lives.


I loved this. I read it in a day, I literally could not put it down.

I particularly liked the book because it was written from four different people's perspectives, over varying periods of time. Each character experienced such large quantities of growth throughout the novel that it was quite overwhelming at times. I was also impressed with how demographically different each of the narrators were, yet Coupland was able to make them come across with intense believability.

The book hinted at how one person's actions can have an effect on other people's lives and actions. The book had no real climax, nor an ending which could be described as satisfactory. In any other book, this would frustrate me, but here Coupland is trying to communicate that life's like this. We never really know how things end.

I loved the recurring themes of religion and piety that the novel held, and I also enjoyed Coupland's hints that many pious people tend to get their ideas and opinions on spirituality mixed up. This could be quite controversial, but Coupland handles it in a gentle way.

The book ends up so beautifully tied together that you can't help but feel satisfied upon completing it. It gives thought to the value of life and the mystery of death, and for this reason I found it entirely compelling. I'm really excited about reading my next Coupland book!


7 / 66 books. 11% done!

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