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Hey, Nostradamus ! by Douglas Coupland

Hey, Nostradamus ! (original 2003; edition 2007)

by Douglas Coupland

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2,470342,483 (3.63)56
Title:Hey, Nostradamus !
Authors:Douglas Coupland
Info:10 X 18 (2007), Edition: DOMAINE ETRANGER, Mass Market Paperback
Collections:Have read, Your library
Tags:2013, audiobook, Canada, Vancouver B.C., school shooting, violence survivor

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Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland (2003)

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Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
In Hey Nostradamus! Coupland tells the story of a Columbine like event that take places in an East Vancouver High School and the impact it had on those involved. Told from the point of view of four different characters, Cheryl who was the last of the students killed, Jason her boyfriend, Heather who met Jason over ten years later, and Jason's father Reg. Each person has their own part to tell, but the book clearly centered around Jason and his inability to really move past Cheryl and the tragic events of that day.

I picked this book up at the library on a whim while browsing the stacks. The name grabbed my attention. I am very glad I gave it a chance. The book is heartbreakingly beautiful. Very rarely will I cry while reading a book, but I found myself wiping away tears several times over the 244 pages. Coupland has a rare ability to tell a story that should be depressing but instead manages to make it so much more. As a matter of course I rarely reread a book, but I may make an exception in the case of Hey Nostradamus! as I think it will be one of those books where you're constantly finding something new hidden in it's pages. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
This story is told from four different points of view over the course of fifteen years, but at the center of it is one person: Jason, who survived a horrific school shooting when he was seventeen. I... really do not know what to make of this book. It is obviously a sort of reaction to Columbine, and more specifically a reaction to the simplistic perception of dead Christian teens as religious martyrs; Coupland's portrayal of religion and religious communities here is complex and far from entirely positive. But beyond that, and beyond the obvious point that experiences like this can mess people up, I'm just not quite sure what Coupland's doing here. It's a weird book. Very well written, very readable, but weird. Mostly it's a quiet literary work about religion and dysfunctional families and emotions, except for these odd moments where it suddenly seems to have grafted in a few pages from a melodrama or a crime thriller. And big chunks of the story just seem to be... missing. Things happen. We don't know why. We don't see their beginnings or their ends. We don't know what they mean. Maybe that's the point, I don't know. It's thought-provoking, I suppose. But ultimately it's not a very satisfying read. Interesting, yes. But not satisfying. ( )
4 vote bragan | May 10, 2014 |
It’s 1988. On a morning unlike any other at a suburban high school in Vancouver, 3 teens attempt to achieve the highest kill count in the history of school shootings. Flash forward 11 years into the future; the incident has more or less been forgotten by most but remains ingrained in the memories of a select few closest to the tragedy.

I was really enjoying this book; I could go so far as to say I was loving it. However, right up to about the halfway point, something so insane occurred that it took me completely out of the story and nearly ruined the entire novel for me. Coupland spends a decent amount of time building a world in which I bought in to, characters that I truly felt sorry for. He then throws this ridiculously unnecessary event that wasn’t even needed! I’ll tag a spoiler at the end so I can complain about it.

That being said, I really did like the characters in this novel. Well, aside from Reg, but you're not supposed to like him anyway. I have this thing with overly self-righteous parent figures that can drive me up the wall. I think it comes from having a few in my family, however, I'm not going to subject you to that.

In terms of writing, it had its fair share of memorable quotes and passages. I can complain all I want about that one problem, but Coupland proved he has some serious writing chops.

It has been drilled into us that to feel fear is to not fully trust God. Whoever made that one up has never been beneath a cafeteria table with a tiny thread of someone else’s blood trickling onto their leg.

Trust me, you spend a much larger part of your life being old, not young. Rules change along the way. The first things to go are those things you thought were eternal.

Those two, especially the latter, really connected with me. Hey, I'm not exactly old (27 years old, here) but I'm starting to get that outlook. I understand exactly where he's coming from.

As iffy as I felt after reading this novel, I’m really excited to try something else of Coupland's. I thoroughly enjoyed his style, I hope that he's bound to impress me. There was enough within these pages to draw me back for another round.

Okay, so I can believe that Jason needed Barb to marry him before he fathered her child(ren). What I have a hard time believing is what followed. For starters, that Barb actually agreed to it and flew to Vegas with Jason to fulfill his wishes. And second, the worst part, is that totally unnecessary murder! I actually said out loud, “What?!” when it occurred. I was so distracted by how ridiculous it was that it nearly ruined the whole thing. I’m still mad about it! It took what could have been a 4.5 to 5 star experience right down to a solid 3.
( )
  branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
Upon finishing this book I am mostly confused - I think it's in some sort of good way - but I'm not really sure.

I think this has something to do with real un-conclusive ending (which isn't a bad thing), the fact that I read most of this book when I was only half-awake, and in removed bits and pieces. Mostly I just came away with feelings, the main one being that Coupland doesn't seem to either be fully aware of what he wants to say, or doesn't actually want to come right out and say it - thus, leaving me confused.

I thought the characters were interesting for the most part, although I thought the third part by Heather dragged on a bit too long, and she became a tad too desperate; not that unrealistic from what I can tell, but I've had to put up with enough female empowerment speeches to realize I should be annoyed.

Over all it was a surprisingly thought provoking book, which was something I did not expect at all when I picked it up. ( )
  swampygirl | Dec 9, 2013 |
Very quick read. I polished it off in two days while trying to take care of a 13 day-old daughter and her mother. That's lightening speed for me. To me it read like a depressed Nick Hornby, without the humor. The difficulty of maintaining faith in modern society is a fairly tired theme. This doesn't add much to the pile. ( )
  BrianFannin | May 31, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Hey Nostradamus! is Coupland's first novel to feature a full complement of three-dimensional characters rather than a swarm of exaggerated cartoons. He seems to have reached a new plane of philosophical awareness.
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I believe that what separates humanity from everything else in this world - spaghetti, binder paper, deep-sea creatures, edelweiss and Mount McKinley - is that humanity alone has the capacity at any given moment to commit all possible sins.
"In the end, I think the relationships that survive in this world are the ones where two people can finish each other's sentences. Forget drama and torrid sex and the clash of the opposites. Give me banter any day of the week."
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0007162510, Paperback)

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." --Shawn Conner, Amazon.ca

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:13:04 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

In 1988, an episode of teenage violence transforms a suburban community, as parents try to cope with the discovery of their children's underground world and the survivors deal with their painful memories of what happened.

(summary from another edition)

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Average: (3.63)
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1.5 7
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5 114


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