About the Book
Hey Nostradamus! follows the lives of four people affected by a high school shooting in Vancouver, Canada, and its long lasting aftermath.
First up is Cheryl Anway, a seventeen year old student, at the school, and the last victim of the gunmen.
Next, is her high school sweetheart, and secret husband, Jason. Who even eleven years later is still struggling to get over his loss and the suspicions and pointed fingers that followed in the first few weeks following the tragedy.
We then get to meet, Heather, the woman who meets and falls in love with Jason, and tries to help him finally overcome his demons.
Last up is Jason’s, estranged father, and a figure we are encouraged to loath as we follow the family through the years.
How have I gone this long without reading any Douglas Coupland?
Readers of Chris’ blog may recognise that statement, because it’s the one he started his review with, and after reading Hey Nostradamus I was asking myself the same thing.
He was an author I knew friends had read, and really enjoyed, but for whatever reason, I didn’t think it was my sort of thing.
Which is a great shame, because I could have been reading this fantastic author for years now.
Halfway through the book I did a Chris and mooched every Coupland I could find and I can hardly wait to start reading the next one!
Because it was the review that finally convinced me to give Coupland a go, I’ve decided to pinch Nymeth’s questions to Chris.
I loved it, and though it suited the story perfectly. When you get down to it, the story is not about a high school shooting, it is about the four people mentioned earlier, their lives, problems, demons, and interactions.
Coupland, also takes us through pain and loss and deep into the souls of our narrators, it’s a deeply effecting and moving tale.
I think it was Reg’s letter to Jason that closes the book, I’m not going to go in to the reasons why Reg has to write his son a letter, as that will spoil the book for those who have not read it. But throughout the book, we have been encouraged by nearly all the characters (only Heather seems to understand him and is the only one still speaking to him on a regular basis at the end) to dislike the man, his beliefs and holier-than-thou attitude. But in this one letter, we get to see a man who only ever wanted the best for his son, but just did not now how to connect with his family.
It’s a perfect end to the book.
I thought it was handled perfectly, and never glorified. Cheryl’s matter-of-fact descriptions of the events, makes them all the more powerful and horrifying, especially as this is balanced by her talking about her relationship with Jason.
Coupland’s writing. He seems able to convey so much about his characters feelings and motivations, with a few wonderful words. Saying that, there where one or two scenes I thought were unnecessary, particularly, an act carried out by his sister-in-law during a jaunt to Las Vegas.
As I said earlier, I think my favourite part it Reg’s letter to his son, I think it says so much about what the story is trying to say, and we finally get to meet the real man, not just the demon, he is portrayed to be. I say just, because, he is a demon, but like everyone else in the world, the face he shows the world and the person he knows himself to be are not always the same thing. Now as I’d get into trouble for reposting the entire letter, I’ll just quote this one line, that I think sums up the rest of the letter.
“It’s strange, but once you begin to confess your weaknesses, one confession leads to another, and the effect is astonishingly liberating.” P235