Home > Literature, Reviews > Review of Hey Nostradamus by Douglas Coupland

Review of Hey Nostradamus by Douglas Coupland

I had a pleasant surprise last Sunday: the reading group I thought had died a death came back to life. The upshot was that I had three days to buy and read Hey Nostradamus. Which I dutifully did. And then wondered why on earth we weren’t reading the book I’d voted for at the last meeting.

Well, it was only 240 pages long so it wasn’t too bad, but, having now read two Couplands, it appears to me he’s a one trick pony, and his one trick isn’t that good. Hey is so similar to the other of his books I’ve read, Girlfriend in a Coma, that a) I wondered whether it was, in some way, an attempt to rewrite the earlier novel and b) you might as well read my review of Girlfriend and save me the trouble of having to write a new one.

Oh. You’re still here. Well, then.

Hey consists of four fist person narratives, each one a riff on the loneliness, monotony, frustration, dislocation and fragmentation of modern life. That’s it, really. Stating the bleeding obvious, in fact. I know life is rubbish – I have to live with it every day – I read fiction to take me out of life’s rubbishness for a few hours, which is why, I suppose, I like fantasy so much.

For what it is, I will grudgingly allow that Coupland does it quite well. His narratives, while they may be annoying, do have a sense of authenticity to them, they’re emotionally honest and his observations of life can be acute. But they’re just series of events, there is no plot here. Very post-modern, but aren’t we now in a post-post-modern era?

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