Apr 20, 2006

Hey Nostradamus!

One of my favorite authors is Douglas Coupland. I started reading him in the early nineties when he published Generation X. A lot has been written about Coupland being the voice of Generation X, and I can't help but believe that is true. Each of his novels speaks to me through the pop culture references and the sit-com speak of the characters who are his voice. Hey Nostradamus! tells the story of a school shooting through the recounting of the experience by Cheryl, Jason, Heather and Reg. Coupland explores the aftermath of the tragedy as it ripples through the community, through time, and through the psyches of all involved.

Without spoiling the story, I can tell you that Cheryl is a girl who is killed in the shooting. She is active in a youth Christian fellowship group, and she tells the story from her perspective, post mortem. Jason and Cheryl met in the Christian fellowship group, Youth Alive, and they were secretly married before their senior year. Jason's chapter of the story is told many years after Cheryl's death. It is hard to say which was more detrimental to him, the school shooting, or his father's extreme religious beliefs. Heather is Jason's girlfriend at the time he is telling his story. As her story unfolds, it is clear that even she was affected by the shooting, in spite of not attending the high school with Jason and Cheryl. Reg is Jason's father and he tells the story from his perspective, showing how the shooting shook his faith and destroyed his family and life as he knew it.

Hey Nostradamus! is a timely and realistic story that explores the epidemic of senseless killing that is happening schools today. Coupland's success in telling the story lies in his use of very personal perspectives of people who are touched by the tragedy.

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