Good Omens (Or) Why I Spent The Entire Night Laughing
Consider a book with the following character introduction:
Metatron (The Voice of God)
Aziraphale (An Angel, and part-time rare book dealer)
Satan (A Fallen Angel; the Adversary)
Beelzebub ( A Likewise Fallen Angel and Prince of Hell)
Hastur (A Fallen Angel and Duke of Hell)
Ligur (Likewise a Fallen Angel and Duke of Hell)
Crowley (An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards)
Dog (Satanical hellhound and cat-worrier)
Tell me you wouldn’t gobble it up in one sitting. And it gets better.
Good Omens – The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch starts with the warning : “Kids! Bringing about Armageddon can be dangerous. Do not attempt it in your own home.” Instantly, I knew that I was going to be awake all night.
Good Omens is beautifully written. Each sentence (and I really do mean it, each one) is beautifully crafted, dripping with a sense of humour that is as outrageously funny as it is intelligent. And it doesn’t seem like two people wrote it (which they did – Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. I’ve finally read Neil Gaiman!), which is a testament to how well written it is. Seamless. And all this is not keeping in mind that the book was written mostly by, in their words, ” shouting excitedly at one another down the phone a couple of times a day for two months.”
Good Omens is a book about What Happens When You Misplace The Antichrist. About The Earth Being A Libran. About Ineffable Plans. And about Leaving Armageddon In The Hands Of An Eleven-Year Old. It’s got Angels that get drunk. Tapes that change into Best Of Queen albums after two weeks. Incredibly Spanish Spanish Inquisitions. A Stomach-Clutching Laughing Reader.
I have issues with how the book ends, but we’ll just let that go, shall we? Read this one for how it’s written. Read it when you know you aren’t going to be interrupted. Read it because it’s an instant pick-me-up, and everything is just so much funnier when you’ve finished.
I’m going to leave you with my favourite bits.
“Anyway, it’s like with bikes,’ said the first speaker authoritatively. ‘I thought I was going to get this bike with seven gears and one of them razorblade saddles and purple paint and everything, and they gave me this light blue one. With a basket. A girl’s bike.’
‘Well. You’re a girl,’ said one of the others.
‘That’s sexism, that is. Going around giving people girly presents just because they’re a girl.”
“Many phenomena – wars, plagues, sudden audits – have been advanced as evidence for the hidden hand of Satan in the affairs of Man, but whenever students of demonology get together the M25 London orbital motorway is generally agreed to be among the top contenders for exhibit A.”
“Along with the standard computer warranty agreement which said that if the machine 1) didn’t work, 2) didn’t do what the expensive advertisements said, 3) electrocuted the immediate neighborhood, 4) and in fact failed entirely to be inside the expensive box when you opened it, this was expressly, absolutely, implicitly and in no event the fault or responsibility of the manufacturer, that the purchaser should consider himself lucky to be allowed to give his money to the manufacturer, and that any attempt to treat what had just been paid for as the purchaser’s own property would result in the attentions of serious men with menacing briefcases and very thin watches. Crowley had been extremely impressed with the warranties offered by the computer industry, and had in fact sent a bundle Below to the department that drew up the Immortal Soul agreements, with a yellow memo form attached just saying: ‘Learn, guys…”