Thursday, October 18, 2012

Review: "Hey Nostradamus" by Douglas Coupland

Douglas Coupland seems to be an author, much like Bret Easton Ellis and Jay McInerney, whose books will always be tied to a certain time period, in this case the 80’s and 90’s. While Ellis has gained success past the time period he began to write (although he will always be known culturally as being an 80’s writer) and McInerney has continued to publish books that go beyond 80’s decadence, I think Coupland will always be known for coining the term “Generation X”. Since that book, he seems to be trying to cash in on any counter-culture taboo subject that he looks at through his thoughtful yet detached eye. And in his novel Hey Nostradamus, he turns that eye toward school shootings, coming of the heels of the Columbine Massacre. But while I like this sub genre of fiction, with it producing such books as Project X by Jim Shepard and We Need to Talk about Kevin by Lionel Shriver, this is not one of those books. Divided into four chapters, each with a school shooting that causes the death of the first chapters narrator as a focal point, we learn about the lasting affects of a single moment of violence. Jason, the central character of the book, was secretly married to the deceased narrator, Cheryl, walks through life in the shadow of that incident and his overly religious parents, letting down Heather the one person whose trust he has gained since the shooting, as he disappears. It ends with a heartfelt gesture by his overbearing father, but it is truly a book that is nothing special. It focus too much on style and never really develops a since of independence from that style, and at best, it is cute and quirky, two words that really don’t make me recommend any book.
Rating: 3/5

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