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Hey Nostradamus!: A Novel Hardcover – 2003

4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury USA; First Edition edition (2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1582343586
  • ISBN-13: 978-1582343587
  • Product Dimensions: 14.6 x 2.8 x 21.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars 16 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #923,507 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

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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 humour, not tragedy, is the Vancouver author's strong suit. But give the guy 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 (writes? transmits?) 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


“Tempered with Coupland’s wry wit and acute observations, it adds up to an irresistible read.”

“[One of] two of the most interesting novels of the year…. [It’s] inclusion would certainly have made the Giller’s or the Governor-General’s a more interesting list.”
—Noah Richler, National Post

“Fate is the psychological trigger in this often-hilarious novel, and Coupland knows when to trip the emotional safety catch.”
Elle Canada

“…[I]n Hey Nostradamus!, Coupland has fashioned his most serious and mature novel so far, mixing his youthful, exuberant prose with a certain compassion and restraint we haven’t seen from him before.…The leading literary voice of the most cynical generation lets it all out in a blaze of spirituality, terror, high comedy and soul-searching, and does it all in a way that is caring and clever, heart-breaking and hilarious, tough and tender. Hey Nostradamus! is not only Coupland’s best novel, but also one of the best of the year.”
Hamilton Spectator

“In Hey Nostradamus!, Coupland takes an insightful look at religion, loss and forgiveness and how everyone is always looking for, as he puts it, the “equation that makes it all equate.”
Calgary Herald

“…profoundly topical…[R]eligious angst has never been made so entertaining.”
National Post

“Coupland’s writing is brilliant.”
Canadian Press, Chronicle-Journal (Thunder Bay)

“ …[Coupland] gets us thinking about spirituality and the meaning of life, and no matter how bad things get, when you put the book down you can’t help but feel hope, which is a comfort.”
Georgia Straight

“…moving and tenderly beautiful….replete with Coupland’s breathtaking observations on consumer culture.”
Vancouver Sun

“The sharply observed immediacy of [Coupland’s] prose continues to impress.”
—Pat Donnelly, The Gazette

“In…Hey Nostradamus! Douglas Coupland, the Vancouver-based author of Generation X, tells the devastating story of a Columbine-like high-school massacre and explores questions of faith, hope, and good and evil.”
The Calgary Herald

“Issues of religion, faith, violence, alienation and trust are explored…. Coupland’s writing is brilliant.”
—Christina M. Hinke, The Examiner, The Daily News (Halifax), The Nugget, The Intelligencer, The Chronicle-Journal (Thunder Bay)

“Poignant, page-turning prose.”
The Coast

“Being the literary king of pop..., readers again are treated to the author’s sometimes bizarre style of mixing details of popular culture into some very deep thoughts about the meaning of life.”
The Toronto Sun

“This novel is a compelling has unquestionable virtues and is well worth attention.”
The Telegram

Hey Nostradamus! has little to do with apocalyptic predictions and everything to do with searching for hope and redemption.”

“Coupland’s eighth novel is a successful break from his norm and is a moving and memorable book.”
Imprint, University of Waterloo Student Newspaper

“Coupland displays his knack for magnifying the lives of ‘statistically average’ individuals and showing us the universality of their experiences, their dreams and their suffering...In Hey Nostradamus!, Coupland takes an insightful look at religion, loss and forgiveness and how everyone is always looking for, as he puts it, the ‘equation that makes it all equate.’”
The Calgary Herald

“Coupland has become a master of suspense and pacing. Hey Nostradamus! is a cannily crafted page-turner. There’s always the feeling that something is just around the bend: catharsis, comprehension, a good plot twist...The story is riveting, with just enough fucked-up touches to make it surreally believable...this is an excellent, skilfully written story.”
NOW Magazine

“Coupland is justly famous for his social satire. He has the ability to capture the ethos of a time through the most mundane details.”
FFWD Magazine

“The book lets the reader ponder deeply...the questioning of faith and belief systems that takes this novel to soaring heights. As Plato would see it, Douglas Coupland may be a seer of sorts — a truth-teller leading the way out of darkness.”

UK reviews:

‘His best novel yet… an outstanding work that crackles in every sentence.’
Irish Independent

‘Coupland can really write — his prose, pithy and aphoristic, occasionally deepens into lyricism… Worth reading, if only for the superb drama of the school shootings and for the subtlety and charm of Cheryl’s narrative voice.’
New Statesman

‘It’s a leap sideways from the acid irony which has shaded some of Coupland’s earlier novels. Instead, from the pen of one of the coolest authors on the planet has come a work of suffusing humanity.’
Sunday Herald

Hey Nostradamus! is Coupland’s first novel to feature a full complement of three-dimensional characters… He seems to have reached a new plane of philosophical awareness… It is a measure of Coupland’s new-found objectivity that he grants Reg the final word. The masterful concluding section of the book presents a pitiful portrait of a wretched, broken figure who has come to realize that he terrorized others as a means of extinguishing the terror within himself… Somewhere deep in Coupland’s consciousness is a little door marked “greatness”. He may slip through it yet.’

‘A moving novel… Coupland uses a multiplicity of voices to work out his sense of the joyous abundance and hopeless inadequacy of human existence, all refracted through the trauma of the massacre. This is a much deeper analysis of violence and social exclusion than the solemn commentary one usually reads about Columbine high school and similar events, and one which lingers in the mind long after the theorizing has dissipated, like a still photograph.’

‘Coupland has come of age in Hey Nostradamus! — a controlled diamond-tip that drills to the heart of the human condition…. At turns harrowing and uplifting, it never ceases to engage the heart and mind, and leaves us safe in the knowledge that even through so much raw devastation, time does heal.’
Sunday Tribune (Dublin)

Hey Nostradamus! is a cathartic read, because Coupland is clearly not a writer prone to sitting alone in his ivory tower. His world is a fully interactive one that allows him as easily to slip into the skin of a pretty young girl as that of a stubborn old man.’
Financial Times

‘Drily witty at times, but also serious, involved and compassionate… the work of an author who has reached a new level of maturity, more skilled at crafting characters and restrained enough to apply his famous wit unobtrusively.’
Glasgow Herald

‘Four perspectives, one brilliant author’
Daily Mirror

‘Douglas Coupland has surely reserved his place at the top table of North American fiction.’
Independent on Sunday

‘The four narrators of Hey Nostradamus! are all searching for meaning. There is Cheryl, frozen in time at 17, a mixture of naivety and pragmatism; Jason, fated to conform to the label of “the boy who never got over it”; lonely, sensible Heather, who falls in love with Jason, and Jason’s tyrannical religious father Reg… A penetrating novel about faith, grief, love and the possibility of redemption, as readable and engaging as Coupland at his best.’

‘Tough, accomplished and subtle, it addresses all the big issues — God, suffering, miracles, family life, why bad things happen to good people — without ever becoming grandiose or pretentious. This is far too wise a book to offer answers, but it affirms that seeking them is a necessary part of our humanity.’

‘Beautiful and melancholic, like the sight of birds migrating at the end of summer, Hey Nostradamus! shows Coupland doing what he’s best at: creating characters who are questing but foredoomed, romantic but sad, all of them floundering between desire and requital.’
Daily Telegraph

‘As definitive as Generation X, and more affecting’
—Rod Liddle, Arena (UK)

“Douglas Coupland gets better and better … [Hey Nostrodamus’] final pages are the most powerful words Coupland has ever written.”
Uptown Magazine

Praise for All Families Are Psychotic:
“As rich as an ovenful of fresh-baked brownies and twice as nutty. . . . Everyone with a strange family -- that is, everyone with a family -- will laugh knowingly at the feuding, conducted with a maestro’s ear for dialogue and a deep understanding of humanity. Coupland, once the wise guy of Generation X, has become a wise man.”
People magazine

“It ...

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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.
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By elfdart on Jan. 10 2011
Format: 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).
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Format: Hardcover
Hey Nostradamus! deals with themes that are common in Coupland's previous works; relationships, love, cultural alienation, death and the self. Here he has branched out a little further, looking at these concepts on, what feels to be, a broader, more encompassing scope. Whilst his earlier work doesn't consider God in relation to these themes, Hey Nostradamus! puts faith, religion and a sense of God towards the forefront, and whilst the book is easily more spiritual than its predecessors, it is by no means a book doused with spiritual cues.
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.
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