Book Report: Good Omens
20 December 2005, 11:44 AM
I wasn’t one of the people who fell in love with Good Omens on first reading and thought it was the Best Thing Ever. I mean, I liked it and all, but it wasn’t that big a deal. For some reason, though, it has become one of my Comfort Books. Well, not quite in the Comfort Book category, but in the category of I’m in a bit of a mood, and I’m going to soak in the tub for a while and re-read a book and see if it cheers me up. Or I’m exhausted and can’t face reading anything remotely serious or even new. Something like that. Anyway, I took it into the tub with me, and then got all caught up in it, as I do, and finished it over the next day or two.
I don’t, bye-the-bye, think much of the theology of the book, but I don’t think Mssrs Gaiman and Pratchett intended it to be much of a theology anyway. Not that it’s all blasphemous and eevil, but they give short shrift to the idea that there is anything to this religion business, anyway. Religion is just one of the silly things that people do, and to the limited extent that it means anything, it’s just a way for people to be silly. There isn’t anybody in the book that is actually religious in any significant sense (including Aziraphale, which is part of the joke, of course), or bases any decisions on any of their religious background. I suppose that’s a stereotypically English way of looking at religion, but it does dull the joke for me. I mean, a book of actual satire, about how silly but religious people act when the stories they tell themselves about what the world is like start to come true in a different way than they expect could be rather funny, but also illuminating. But that’s not this book.
And, of course, it does seem odd that Neil Gaiman, particularly, who is very good indeed at exploiting the reader’s reliance on storytelling and stories, doesn’t have much luck when he nibbles at people’s core story of what the world is like. I mean, both American Gods and Anansi Boys are about the power of, you know, divinities, particularly the power of stories we tell about them to shape our perceptions of the universe and thus the universe itself, but neither have any remotely convincing Christians in them. Not that Mr. Gaiman is responsible for writing to my interests, but I can’t help thinking that it’s a flaw.
chazak, chazak, v’nitchazek,