5.0 out of 5 stars Uniquely Douglas Coupland,
This book was anything but boring. I always enjoy the unique writing-style of Douglas Coupland. He has never disappointed me. His characters are always well-developed and the plots never disappoint me. I'm happy to recommend, "Hey Nostadamus" to anyone that enjoys an entertaining book.
Published on July 7 2004 by Victoria Taylor Murray
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Touching
While I enjoy Coupland's work and respect his vision, I often find his writing fails to touch me on an emotional level. This book is the exception. I found the story incredibly compelling; and, in spite of the timing, it did not seem exploitative or opportunistic.
Published on Sep 17 2007 by sainte-carmen
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5.0 out of 5 stars Uniquely Douglas Coupland,,
This review is from: Hey Nostradamus! (Paperback)This book was anything but boring. I always enjoy the unique writing-style of Douglas Coupland. He has never disappointed me. His characters are always well-developed and the plots never disappoint me. I'm happy to recommend, "Hey Nostadamus" to anyone that enjoys an entertaining book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Never mind the clanking narrative,
This review is from: Hey Nostradamus! (Hardcover)I read plenty of books, but few of them are novels, probably because, as I age, I can "hear the devices clanking away" (in the words of Richard Rodriguez, author of "Brown," who knows what he's talking about).
Nevertheless, I remain drawn to the novels of Douglas Coupland, who like me is from Vancouver. That despite his being an extreme example of "write what you know"--his characters are pretty much all young, white, and middle class; they live in the Western United States or just across the border in Canada; when they travel, they go to Vegas or Oregon or Seattle, never to Alberta or New York (forget about Japan or Madagascar); they all talk and think in some variation of semi-ironic, simile-heavy, pop-referencing Coupland-speak; their themes are sudden loss, pointless death, loneliness, running away, and vague dread, even from the afterlife; their tales often start strong and then slowly vaporize rather than coming to a strong conclusion. Clanking devices indeed.
Somehow, though, I don't care. His novels are better than his non-fiction, which (while entertaining) feels dashed-off, undisciplined, and improperly researched. In fiction, he takes advantage of those same tendencies to write with a strange propulsion, even when his characters are doing nothing but sitting and thinking. The stories are short but dense. His eye for detail evokes the true feelings of a place. Even his weakest books, such as "Shampoo Planet," "Girlfriend in a Coma," and "Miss Wyoming," have something to say, although neither the reader nor the writer might know exactly what that is.
"Hey Nostradamus!," from 2003, is an extreme example. It takes place almost entirely in North and West Vancouver, and revolves around kids in high school, and what becomes of them and their families. There are many deaths, some deserved, some uncertain, some shockingly random. It's about people who want to change themselves, but can't. Only one of the four major characters does change, and only far too late, when he's irrelevant to everyone to whom it would matter.
And yet, there at the end of the book, I nearly cried. I think it's Coupland's best written work since "Microserfs" a decade ago. Go read it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Touching,
This review is from: Hey Nostradamus! (Paperback)While I enjoy Coupland's work and respect his vision, I often find his writing fails to touch me on an emotional level. This book is the exception. I found the story incredibly compelling; and, in spite of the timing, it did not seem exploitative or opportunistic.
4.0 out of 5 stars good,
This review is from: Hey Nostradamus! (Audio CD)This is a story about high school massacre in Vancouver in 1988 and how that massacre affected various characters in the novel, at least on the surface. More than this story being about a cause and effect play by play of an unfortunate event, it is about how people deal with situations with faith and the difference between religion and spirituality. Before I get ahead of myself here I would like to say that this book is not at all preachy, nor is it accusatory or abrasive. It is not so much a book about religion as it is a book about how people act when being 'religious' or not, and what that actually means. Each of the main characters in turn display a fervent belief and then a denial or realization that what they once believed may not be what they supposed it to be. Some people may not want to read this book because it has religion in it, and to those under that category I say that you will not be offended and will enjoy the book. To those who may read the book because it is about religion I want to say that it is more about individual interpretation and potentially exploitation for personal gain than it is a celebration of any faith, and you may be offended at some parts, but not deeply.
The novel told through the eyes of four people, and each person was strongly impacted by the narrator before him or her. The story begins with two high school sweethearts, Cheryl and Jason, who love each other immensely and get secretly married (both because they love each other and because they want to have sex without committing a sin). Cheryl, the first narrator, became religious because she liked Jason and he was very religious (because of family reasons), but she soon come to strongly associate with the faith personally and throughout her segment of the story she speaks only to god, and we the audience over hear her prayers. Then one day a couple of youths from their high school hijack the school cafeteria with a couple of guns and kill some people, one of those people being Cheryl. Jason comes in to save her at the last minute and kills one of the terrorists, but is too late to save Cheryl.
Jason is the next narrator and we come into his life several years after the tragedy. Though Jason was seemingly religious in high school, he was so because of his father's fervent, almost nervous devotion to religion. His father was a very judgmental man and Jason could never seem to do anything quite good enough to satisfy him. After the massacre it was rumoured that Jason had planned the entire thing, and of course a majority of the town believed it. Even after he was proved innocent by the law and was named a hero by some of the papers his father could only see the fact that he'd killed a boy, no matter how many lives he might have saved in the process. Jason's account is very bitter in some places. The world had not been kind to him and he could not move on. Unlike the other narrators, Jason's account doesn't largely deal with his own personal relationship with religion. He talks more about how others relationships with religion have affected him, and how even though he isn't religious himself, he still falls back on some of the institutional rituals followed by people who believe.
The next narrator is named Heather, a woman who enters a sort of awkward relationship with and eventually marries Jason. Jason disappears shortly after her segment begins, and Heather deals with a psychic named Allison who seems to be in contact with Jason on some sort of spiritual level. This segment was interesting for me because it made me reflect on how people in contemporary, secular society seem to find pathways to express some sort of religious behaviour. Obviously believing in a psychic being able to contact individuals is a reflection of faith on some level. But more than the whole psychic thing, what was interesting to observe was Heather's behaviour and relationship with her desire to contact this person. Her need at these times were, while completely devoid of religion, were still strongly tied to faith. And what's more is I could associate her behaviour to what I've seen people feel while in a romantic relationship, or while at work, or studying, etc. That almost feverish desire is present in many aspects of life, not just religion, and that calls into question where one can draw the line between faith and religion. Or where one can start to separate faith and spirituality. Religion has a very defined identity in pop culture, and if you're not a card carrying member, the idea of it can be very unattractive. But how many of our day to day hopes and dreams and actions could be classified by an outsider as being likened to what we classify religious action? Just something to think about.
The last narrator is Jason's father, Reg. We hear many tales of this man throughout the novel, most of them unflattering. So by the time we get to hear him speak there is already a sort of prejudice against the man. Reg's account is more of a reflection than it is a narration or a tale recounted. He speaks of his faith, but in a refreshing way that I will not go into detail about.
I listened to this book aurally and I really enjoyed the voice actors. I thought the people chosen were well suited to their roles and were a pleasure to listen to. Overall this was a good book and I would recommend it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Hey Great Book!,
This review is from: Hey Nostradamus! (Paperback)Upon reading the first few pages of this book, I had no idea what to expect... and the more I read, the more I had no idea what would follow... it kept me intrigued yet satisfied the entire way through. It's an interesting book dealing with life, death, religion, and chaos. Definitely some of Coupland's best work, and I loved it... a personal favorite. :)
4.0 out of 5 stars Good characterization drives novel,
By the time the novel reaches its fourth segment, it has morphed into a completely different tale than what is expected from the beginning. The transitions can be jarring, but then, so can life itself.
I found myself sympathizing with each character as he or she took hold of the story, despite the fact that they were each capable of some pretty horrible or foolish acts. The moral flaws of the individual characters don't seem to matter though. It's the rest of the world that's a mess, and they're just trying to get through it.
5.0 out of 5 stars Much better than Vernon God Little,
"God is nowhere/God is now here" - whether or not you believe in God, this book will make you think again about your place in the world, what you believe in and what you hold dear. An excellent book !
4.0 out of 5 stars Nostradamus says another great book from Coupland,
It is written from four seperate points of view, stretching in time from 1988 to 2003. Each character brings something new to the table in terms of angle and perspective, and helps to give the reader a well defined picture of the characters.
Spiritually speaking, all the characters have different beleifs and concepts of faith raging from Jason's (the novel's main character) antediluvian father Reg to the religiously disinterested Heather, who herself claims to be "weak on religion". It is through these religious differences that Coupland focuses on interpersonal relationships, a common theme of his and ultimately what the book falls back upon. He paints a strong, rather emotional, picture of how religious persuasions can influence and be influenced by, major events in our lives.
The book is certainly well written, Coupland is no doubt one of the better pop writers of the time, although it did leave me wanting a little more. Whilst the subject matter is rather emotional, I was expecting to be a little more overwhlemed by the book, quite possibly a flaw in my expectations rather than the novel itself. Having said that, it is a highly engaging book that will entertain you and make you think, if not about your own beliefs, then about how you consider other people's.
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure what is up here--but it is Coupland after all.,
5.0 out of 5 stars A strong story, in Coupland's inimitable style,
As either an introduction to those who have not read Coupland before, of for established fans, this is a volume that is well worth reading.
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Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland (Paperback - Jun 29 2004)
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