Hey Nostradamus! by Douglas Coupland
(Random House of Canada, Toronto: 2004)
READ: January 2008
Possibly the most puzzling Douglas Coupland I have ever read. For a book I'm not even sure I liked, it really grabbed me - I couldn't put it down, and I couldn't stop thinking about it whenever I wasn't reading it, and even now that I'm done.
As a general rule, I like Coupland. He is, mostly, brilliant: witness Jpod, Microserfs, Generation X, and Life After God, to name a few. But then he'll fall into a dismal hole of ... well, I don't even know how to describe it. Girlfriend in a Coma, which I read years and years ago, was one of those abysmal moments. In fact, it turned me off Coupland altogether for about 3 years. From what I actually managed to read of it, Polaroids from the Dead was another. It's as if, every now and then, Coupland just becomes too self-aware of his brilliance, and he just inputs too many of his conventions and his what-it-is-that-makes-him-brilliance (his je ne sais quoi, as it were), and the result is overloaded and heavy.
But Hey Nostradamus! doesn't quite do that. It tries to - it tries very hard to be too self-aware and too Couplandesque - but it never quite manages it. And so you end up with this: a book that ought to be terrible, but isn't. Damn you, Coupland, for writing a book I want to dislike but can't!