I finally finished reading Good Omens, the nice and accurate prophecies of Agnes Nutter.
It isn’t that it is not a good book. It is. It is even an excellent book. But it is a bit like watching Meryl Streep act – it works really really hard at being an excellent book, full of humor and fun and meaning and portent.
Of course, it may be all in me in that I have trouble of late really getting in to much fiction. And I am pretty demanding of narrative even in non-fiction. Call me picky. Or persnickety. I really don’t give a hoot. Like in wine and beer, I know what I like and I don’t care if it doesn’t make sense to other people although I will sometimes try to make sense of it myself.
So, the story is good. Complex and intertwined. But a story really rests on characters and while these characters are well-drawn, well, they aren’t very real or compelling: They don’t come alive. The story can overcome any unreality but the characters can’t. Aziraphale and Crowley, an angel and a demon, are the most real. And Death. I think their best points are made with Death. I LOVE Death. Anyway, that an angel and a demon and Death are the most lively characters is telling. While I agree on their points about good and evil (and human-ness), those points are constructed and sort of like a house even made of timber doesn’t actually look like a tree, a point constructed from characters that don’t breathe doesn’t actually become a tale. Not alive.
I’ve never read any Terry Pratchett although I’m pretty sure I remember that my friend MC loves him. I’ve read all the Gaiman novels I can get in the library and I liked Anansi Boys best (although I probably remember the plot of American Gods more clearly). I pretty much don’t do graphic novels although there have been a few exceptions (the color of water and stitches in particular). Although it has crossed my mind that if I’d read Gaiman when I was 18, like I did Tom Robbins, well, I don’t know. I love TR. His novels (most of them anyway) have many layers of meaning for me. Perhaps if I’d read Gaiman at that time, he would have been able to join TR on that mount. Having first read him at 48, not so much. Although I wait to meet up with him sometime. I hear he hangs in this area some. Maybe he’ll come take horseback riding lessons from me. And we could talk.
And, truly, I do love the book. “And there never was an apple, in Adam’s opinion, that wasn’t worth the trouble that you got into for eating it.”