Sunday, December 12, 2010
APOCALYPSE FOR BEGINNERS by Nicolas Dickner, translated by Lazer Lederhendler (2010) Vintage Canada
"The future ain't what it used to be," provides Yogi Berra in the novel's epigraph.
High school student Hope Randall comes from a long line of magical thinkers who receive prophetic visions about the end of the world, and when those visions fail to materialize most go mad and find a way to end their own lives. In the summer of 1989, Hope and her mother Ann load up their Lada with ramen noodles and Bibles and head west until the little Russian car conks out near Riviere -du-Loup where they move into a former pet store that still stinks like the giant cage that it was.
Hope doesn't mind being an outsider (she's a mathematics and chemistry genius AND a girl) and it's while sitting alone on the stands at the local stadium, probably thinking about David Suzuki, her TV crush on The Nature Of Things, that Hope first meets Mickey Bauermann who intends to save Hope from her crazy situation.
Mickey and Hope become steadfast friends and predictably lovers, but when Hope's destiny is revealed by chance on a package of Captain Mofuku, she decides she needs to take charge of their future and seek out the source through a journey that leads her to New York City, Seattle and finally Tokyo, Japan.
APOCALYPSE FOR BEGINNERS is quirky fun, with a dash of melodrama and bildungsroman thrown in for good measure.