Saturday, October 14, 2006

Hey Nostrodamus!

What a simply amazing story! I could barely put Douglas Coupland’s Hey Nostrodamus! down. It became one of those books that you think about all day. I’d be at work and find myself thinking about Jason Klaasen and where his life was heading. Jason was an amazing character. The whole story absorbed me. It was spiritual, even a little religious, without being the slightest bit preachy. I don’t like stories that are over saturated with religion. A story should be able to stand on the strength of its characters, not religion.

There was so much growth, change and trauma. Death ran throughout this novel, affecting the lives of this ‘family’ of people in North Vancouver. It was definitely a traumatic beginning and emotional all the way through the story. It starts with a high school shooting. I’ve actually had this book for about a year or more, but I just couldn’t summon up the will to read it. On the dust jacket, it tells you about how the story begins (though it doesn’t really mention the rest). With recent events, however, I felt it was time to pick up Hey Nostrodamus!. I’m really glad I read it. The story isn’t exactly a “feel good” sort of thing, but it does leave with some kind of satisfaction in Heather, Jason’s adult girlfriend and Reg, Jason’s father. There was realization and there was love with both these characters.

I’m glad about the warning, though. I needed that blurb about the book to tell me that people were going to die in a very tragic way. It kind of reminded me of a great book I read about two years ago, The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I think it’s actually on The Globe and Mail’s paperback best seller’s list. I knew it was about death, which you could guess from the title, but it didn’t give you any clue as to how a particular character died. Reading it was shocking. At least Coupland gave me some sort of preparation.

Hey Nostrodamus! is just an excellent piece of fiction. If you want something that really reflects the way things have been in the world (at least the western world) in this generation, pick up this book. The characters are tangible and believable. They are the family next door. They are the people you meet in line at the toy store. There are dark, scary, depressed and lonely. They are also filled with love and possibility.

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