Good Omens - Not as good the second (sober) time

Good Omens - Terry Pratchett, Neil Gaiman

Brainycat's 5 "B"s:
blood: 1
boobs: 2
bombs: 0
bondage: 1
blasphemy: 3
Bechdel Test: FAIL
Deggan's Rule: FAIL
Gay Bechdel Test: FAIL

Please note: I don't review to provide synopses, I review to share a purely visceral reaction to books and perhaps answer some of the questions I ask when I'm contemplating investing time and money into a book.



I don't recall exactly why it seemed like a good idea to buy this and read it again; I believe I heard a mention that the BBC4 dramatisation will be available for sale soon. In an inexplicable fit of nostalgia I bought a copy and for reasons I can't quite fathom I actually reread the whole thing. I first read this book right as it came out in paperback - about the time I graduated high school. It must be understood that the young Mr. Brainycat was drunk nearly every night and stoned more often that not. Way back in the day, I thought it was brilliant satire that was sticking it right to the man where it'd hurt him the most. Neil Gaiman was the new Ambrose Bierce!

Growing up in middle America made any story set in England seem vastly important; it was the land of Monty Python, Benny Hill and Proper Tradition. England was a wonderland of glorious villages and endearing people with a brilliant sense of humor, and an affinity for anything English gave me a feeling of being cultured (superior) to the rednecks surrounding me. A quarter of a century later, six years sober and living in England has wiped the gloss right off of that fantasy in no uncertain terms.

I think being more familiar with the English culture is the biggest factor in my disappointment with this rereading. It doesn't seem cute and quaint; the difficulties of trying to do things in England (like drive around the M25) are cute when you're reading about them from 10 000km away; when you're living there it's maddeningly frustrating[1]. I didn't realize how much of this book is taking the piss out of the British way of doing things until now, but this time around I didn't find it LOL funny. It's cute, it's funny, and it's totally forgettable.

I had a notion to reread American Gods, which I liked when I was really high, but I think I'm going to let that one lie. Some things are best left as (scattered) memories and vague impressions. I believe the fact of the matter is that except for Sandman, I'm not a Neil Gaiman fan and as I grow older and more cynical I'm diverging further and further away from his canon. By the same token I've never disliked Terry Pratchet, but I've never been a huge fan either - I found the couple of Discworld books I read to be cute, funny and totally forgettable. This is a great pairing of authors but I don't think they worked out a whole that's any greater than the sum of their parts.


[1] Example: restaurants run and staffed by English people cannot get a meal delivered to a table in less than 45 minutes. This is an example of the attitude that lost them their empire.