Hey, Nostradamus !
11 journalers for this copy...
Considering some of his past subjects--slackers, dot-commers, Hollywood producers--a Columbine-like high school massacre seems like unusual territory for the usually glib Douglas Coupland. Anyone who has read Generation X or Miss Wyoming knows that dryly hip humor, not tragedy, is the Vancouver author's strong suit. But give Coupland credit for twisting his material in strange, unexpected shapes. Coupland begins his seventh novel by transposing the Columbine incident to North Vancouver circa 1988. Narrated by one of the murdered victims, the first part of Hey Nostradamus! is affecting and emotional enough to almost make you forget you're reading a book by the same writer who so accurately characterized a generation in his first book, yet was unable to delineate a convincing character. As Cheryl Anway tells her story, the facts of the Delbrook Senior Secondary student's life--particularly her secret marriage to classmate Jason--provide a very human dimension to the bloody denouement that will change hundreds of lives forever. Rather than moving on to explore the conditions that led to the killings, though, Coupland shifts focus to nearly a dozen years after the event: first to Jason, still shattered by the death of his teenage bride, then to Jason's new girlfriend Heather, and finally to Reg, Jason's narrow-minded, religious father.
Hey Nostradamus! is a very odd book. It's among Coupland's most serious efforts, yet his intent is not entirely clear. Certainly there is no attempt at psychological insight into the killers' motives, and the most developed relationships--those between Jason and Cheryl, and Jason and Reg--seem to have little to do with each other. Nevertheless, it is a Douglas Coupland book, which means imaginatively strange plot developments--as when a psychic, claiming messages from the beyond, tries to extort money from Heather--that compel the reader to see the story to its end. And clever turns of phrase, as usual, are never in short supply, but in Cheryl's section the fate we (and she) know awaits her gives them an added weight: "Math class was x's and y's and I felt trapped inside a repeating dream, staring at these two evil little letters who tormented me with their constant need to balance and be equal with each other," says the deceased narrator. "They should just get married and form a new letter together and put an end to all the nonsense. And then they should have kids."
ajsmom (Canada, int'l)
silentmiaouw (Switzerland, prefer Europe)
veleta (Spain, prefer Europe)
LindyLouMac (From Europe, Italy, to Europe)
kizmiaz (Portugal, prefer Europe)
symphonicca (South America, prefer Americas)
rednumbertwo (Canada, OS)
Triggerfish (Scotland, OS)
silvia-pco (Portugal, OS)
Thank you very much for offering this up as a ring, hunnyb. I would have had to buy this book for the cover alone! *grin* I will PM silentmiaow for an address and have this on its' way this week!
ETA: I mailed in on August 21st and manually changed the status to travelling.
We meet four characters who narrate their story in turn. All of them were affected by a high-school massacre in Vancouver. First Cheryl, who is shot, then her boyfriend/secret husband Jason, next several years later Jason’s girlfriend, Heather, and finally his father, Reg. All the way through, I felt sorry for everyone mentioned in this book, not only these four, but their parents, siblings, children and friends. I was really most sorry that Cheryl and Jason never told their family they were married; family secrets are not a good idea.
However, I didn’t find it at all weepy, just frustrating that I couldn’t go and strangle all those Youth Alive hypocrites. We really never get to know much about the kids who did the killings and their reasons for behaving like that, except that they are nerdy losers. Thankfully there is a small glimmer of hope at the end as things seem to turn out right for one person at least; and I admired Jason’s mother and his sister-in-law for their spontaneity.
Ready to move on, waiting for next addy.
There is a Columbine-like massacre in a quiet Canadian town called North Van. Cheryl was one of the casualties. Two thirds of the book is the telling of how the people who knew Cheryl dealt with her death. His secret husband, Jason, will never be the same. For me, the best part was the third: Jason's new lover affair finds that she is no competition between her and a dead saint. She finds herself fighting against her new boyfriend's lost love, and can't cope with it. (Who would?)
There are twists of plot all the time. As I was reading it, I thought it was like a Robert Altman film. I don't know why, but I made that comparison in my mind.
Update:11/11/06 Just about to start reading and having now read all the reviews, realise it is to be my third book in recent months with the theme of teenage shootings. What a scary world we live in! It will be interesting to see how it compares to the last two, 'We Need to Talk About Kevin'http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/4249735 and 'The Pact'http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/3661600 both very very different. This will be more a comparison to the first title as that one is also about a massacre.
Now waiting to hear from kizmiaz
Update:21/11/06 due to the fact I am having problems with a small % of PM's I have only just today obtained an address. It will be posted on my next trip to Post Office.
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
Now en route to Portugal.
Still have one to finish so I'll start on this one early next week.
Another great book from one of the most interesting authors around.
Once again Douglas Coupland describes emotions and deep thoughts in a way both humorous and shocking. Never going for the easiest approach to the story (aka the tearjerker solution), he chooses to leave a lot of loose ends and make us do a little thinking for ourselves (something always welcome in this world of fast-food-literature).
The high school massacre is like the stone thrown in the pond, the ripples it provokes in the lives of the characters are what drives the narrative.
Jason, Cheryl, Heather and even Reg are, each in his own peculiar way, looking for a way out, some sort of redemption, and, like in real life, nothing comes easy and nothing comes free.
It’s amazing to see how judgements are so easily passed by people who don’t know what they’re talking about, like the Alive!oids and lots of others in this novel, once again just like in real life.
I'll be sending it on when I get an address.
15.12.2006 - symphonicca asked to be skipped.
I have PMed Triggerfish, and will send this on as soon as possible.
will post on at weekend.
I also loved this quote, it's from Cheryl's bit:
And yet... and yet I was me - nobody saw the world as I did, nor did they feel the things I felt.
Thanks for sharing, hunnyb! I'll PM sugaryfun.
19Junho - On it's way to sugaryfun. I'm sorry for the delay!
I think I enjoyed Jason's story the most. It reminded me a little of Chuck Palahniuck (especially his novel Invisible Monsters for some reason).
I think I'll try and get hold of a couple more of Coupland's books now.