Hey Nostradamus!, by Douglas Coupland

Inspired by the events of the Columbine massacre, this book is split into four parts, each devoted to the thoughts of one of the people affected by a shooting at a high school.

Well... it was quite an interesting book, and there were good bits, but it didn't really click for me. I think that there are some quite strong parallels between the Columbine events and that of the book: specifically that Cheryl, the author of the first section, seems to have been based on a girl at Columbine who was shot after she supposedly replied "yes" to one of the killers who asked her if she believed in God. In this book, religion plays a major role in the lives of the characters, and Cheryl herself is held up as an example to the faithful. But I found this a bit uncomfortable. Maybe it's Coupland's trademark to write stuff that is so close to contemporary events - the only other book of his I've read is Microserfs - but it seemed a little inappropriate in this context.

The book was constructed in an interesting way: none of the characters is aware of the contents of any of the sections other than the one they are writing, so you have what feels like a unique insight into their thoughts, and the sections were written at different times (over a period of about thirteen years) so they weren't all attempting to describe the same events. One main theme of the book seems to be that there are certain questions to which we can't have answers, and this is realised in a direct way when we learn that Jason, Cheryl's boyfriend, has disappeared some time after he wrote his section. No-one, including us, finds out what happened to him.

So I think it was well structured, and interesting, but felt to me a little bit too much like an exercise in creative writing: there wasn't really enough heart there. I would read more by Coupland, but this isn't one that really affected me.

Completed : 02-Aug-2007

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