Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Good Omens

When our son asked me what I might like for Christmas, I told him “find three really good books that I probably wouldn’t buy for myself.” I can trust him to do a great job because:

1. He has alwasy spent a good amount of time hanging out around books.
2. He has a good idea what I buy for myself.
3. He has a whacky sense of humor.

Good Omens, by Niel Gaiman and Terry Pratchett was one of the books he and his bride gave me, and it was a riotous good read.

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This book is not heavyweight – you can read it on one leg of an airplane trip or two or three nights before falling asleep. It treats a very heavy topic – The End of Days/ the Apocalypse in a very irreverant, very funny way. It treats the characters of good and evil – angels and devils – as real characters. In spite of the lightweight plot, there are some interesting – and hysterical thoughts.

Crowley, the demon/devil who was placed on earth to torment and tempt humans, hopes the end of the world will be a long way off . . . through the centuries, he has grown to rather like people.

Oh, he did his best to make their short lives miserable, because that was his job, but nothing he could think up was half as bad as the stuff that they thought up themselves. They seemed to have a talent for it. It was built into the design, somehow. They were born into a world that was against them in a thousand little ways, and then devoted most of their energies to making it worse. Over the years Crowley had found it increasingly difficult to find anything demonic to do which showed up against the natural background of nastiness. There had been times, over the past millenium, when he’d felt like sending a message back Below saying Look, we may as well give up right now, we might as well shut down Dis and Pandemonium and everywhere and move up here, there’s nothing we can do to them that they don’t do themselves, and they do things we’ve never evey thought of, often involving electrodes. They’ve got what we lack. They’ve got imagination. And electricity, of course.

The Anti-Christ is born, and cosmic events get underway. But . . .this being Earth, and bureacracies being as they are, things get screwed up. I’m not going to get specific; it’s part of the droll fun these authors have with us as they write this book. The Four Horsemen appear, but they ride motorcycles, and Pestilence has been replaced by Pollution.

As the situation heats up and the end of the world as we know it nears, Crowley ends up with an unlikely ally, the angel Aziraphale.

Now as Crowley would be the first to protest, most demons weren’t deep down evil. In the great cosmic game they felt they occupied the same position as tax inspectors – doing an unpopular job, maybe, but essential to the overall operation of the whole thing. If it came to that, some angels weren’t paragons of virture; Crowley had met one or two who, when it came to righteously smiting the ungodly, smote a good deal harder than was strictly necessary. On the whole, everyone had a job to do, and just did it.

Now, throw into the mix an ancient book of totally accurate prophesies that are sufficiently oblique to be disasterously mis-interpreted, The Nice and Accurate Prophesies of Agnes Nutter, Witch. “Nice” in this case refers to its oldest meaning, exact. And, while the prophesies ARE exact, finding out their exact meaning is another hilarious exercise.

All in all, a great read, a lot of fun . . . and underneath the fun, some little pinpricks of thought about human beings, the human condition, and our treatment of our world and one another that needle you long after you finish reading. Son, thanks, you chose a great book.

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March 4, 2007 - Posted by | Books, Fiction, Humor, Random Musings, Satire, Spiritual, Words

7 Comments »

  1. “Oh, he did his best to make their short lives miserable, because that was his job, but nothing he could think up was half as bad as the stuff that they thought up themselves.”

    This is soooo true! 😀

    Oh and evil is FUN! Sounds like a book I might actually enjoy, human beings rendering evil demons helpless is something I am quite interested in.

    *goes to Amazon.com*

    Comment by kinano | March 4, 2007 | Reply

  2. Kinan, have you read A Confederacy of Dunces? John Kennedy Toole? It is a whole different kind of demons.

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 4, 2007 | Reply

  3. sounds like something right up my alley, i shall hunt for it at the next bookshop i’m at 😛

    and that confederacy of dunces too,… i think i actually bought that a while back but lost it.

    Comment by skunk | March 4, 2007 | Reply

  4. Hey sweetie :*
    I just did a quick catch up on ur blog 🙂
    I loved ur Oman pics….such a lovely country right?
    Oh and thanks about the affect/effect usage…always confuses me…!!

    Comment by Delicately Realistic | March 4, 2007 | Reply

  5. Skunk, it would give you some guffaws on your next long trip.

    Delicate – Nice to see you! And yes, Oman is beautiful. I need to see mountains every now and then. And affect and effect STILL confuse me!

    Comment by intlxpatr | March 5, 2007 | Reply

  6. […] John Kennedy Toole’s Confederacy of Dunces. It has a lot of the tongue-in-cheek theology of Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. The characters are so alive, and so likable, and you will find […]

    Pingback by James Morrow's The Last Witchfinder « Here There and Everywhere | April 17, 2007 | Reply

  7. […] son got me started with Neil Gaiman when he gave me a book called Good Omens. He is probably not an author everyone would like – he can be cynical, but my experience with […]

    Pingback by Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors « Here There and Everywhere | April 20, 2009 | Reply


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