Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland

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Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland

8vo. pp. 244. hardcover. dw. (near fine - crease to front lower corner of dust wrapper flap). New York: Bloomsbury, [2003].

First US Edition.

ISBN-10: 1582343586 / ISBN-13: 9781582343587


Using the voices of four characters deeply affected by a high-school shooting, though in remarkably different ways, Douglas Coupland explores the lingering aftermath of one horrifying event, and questions what it means to come through grief—and to survive.

The first narrator in
Hey Nostradamus! is Cheryl, who is waiting in the Delbrook Senior Secondary cafeteria for Jason, to whom she is secretly married. Hiding under a table, she speaks to us from a place between life and death, and tells the story of her relationship with Jason, her conversion to Christianity and her deep love of God, despite her inability to find meaning in this massacre.

The second narrator is Cheryl’s widower, Jason, writing an open letter to his brother’s twin sons, telling the story of his life to date and how the shooting has shaped it. Then Jason meets Heather, who, like him, has a hard time dealing with reality. Together they create a world of their own, and live happily—until one day Jason disappears. It’s now 2002 and Heather, who narrates the third section of the novel diary-style, tells us about her life as a court stenographer, her relationship with Jason, and her growing but uncomfortable friendship with Reg, Jason's father. 

Reg narrates the last, and shortest, section of the novel. It’s 2003 and Reg is composing a letter to his missing son. It’s been fifteen years since the high school massacre, but the effects continue to ripple through the lives of those it touched. 

Four distinct characters tell four distinct yet entwined stories, as each tries to find his or her own way. And it is through their post-shooting experiences—their scarring exposure to the media or seemingly unrelated pit stops along life’s path—that Douglas Coupland finds the truer story of our collective need. Instead of following the chain of events leading up to the massacre or dwelling on the teenage killers, Coupland concentrates on its aftermath and its long-term effects. In doing so, he is able to make us really consider what it means to survive, and to continue to believe.