Saturday, September 17, 2011

Book Thirty-Two - Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch - Part Two

Terry Pratchett & Neil Gaiman

This book, ostensibly a humorous look at Armageddon, asks profound questions. For example, how many nipples do you have? (This question is provided merely to illustrate a point. I neither expect nor desire an answer.) The cast of characters is massive and I had a bit of trouble keeping up with everyone, but the authors do a good job of providing their characters with enough personality that I usually recognized them from previous chapters. There are so many cute little jokes woven into the prophecies of Agnes. She’s not a part of the action yet much of it centers on her.

Essentially, this is a book about people – human beings and the things we do, the effects we have on other people and on everything with which we come into contact. Yet it’s not depressing but incisive. This is thanks to the strength of the storytelling, and my admiration for Mr. Pratchett and Mr. Gaiman (which was already great) has grown.
It has been said that civilization is twenty-four hours and two meals away from barbarism.
I am afraid this is true, seriously afraid. I heard again today about the financial troubles of the EU. I know that my state – and every state – is broke and that our government – and every country’s government, pretty much – is broke. The whole thing could fall apart. Would we become barbarians after missing only two meals? I am afraid this is a real possibility. I hope this is all media and political hype but I fear that it is not.

The perceptiveness of a particular speech toward the end of the story regarding the powers of heaven and hell is sublime. It asks questions but not at all in an heretical way; the speaker is simply trying to make sense of things. When we take things apart to their essential elements they look much different, don’t they?

At one point in my reading I was reminded of an incident regarding a raccoon. I used to work at a place surrounded by woods, and one morning a raccoon wandered out of the woods and made a beeline for a building with at least 40 people standing outside of it. One person, immediately knowing that this is hardly typical behavior for a raccoon, simply shooed the raccoon back into the woods. Later he told us he suspected the raccoon had distemper and I asked why he sent it back into the woods to infect the other animals. He looked at me and said, “You don’t mess with nature.” I immediately knew he was right. How many stories are there of mankind trying to solve one problem and creating others in the process? We do not know nor do we understand all of the workings of nature and when we think we are solving a problem we inadvertently create an imbalance. Even people who spend their entire lives studying ecosystems admit they do not understand their inner workings. Yet we rush around pretending we are in control of the planet – how well does that work for us?

There are also humorous little notes* throughout the book. Most of them are cute but after a bit they become distracting.*

*like this one
*even though they are funny

One word used repeatedly is “ineffable.” Definition:
1. too great or extreme to be expressed in words.
2. too sacred to be uttered.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the word of the day.

Suggestions as to my next book? I still have 38 books (listed on the Progress page) and all I know is that Winnie The Pooh will be last.


  1. I really enjoyed this one when I listened to it about a year ago! The reader blew me away with his ability to distinguish characters, of which -- as you pointed out -- there are myriad! I love how you related the book to our own world. It makes me think about the book in a wholly different way than I did when I listened to it.

  2. Glad you enjoyed this one and great commentary. I always know a profound point is going to be made whenever a paragraph begins with "I was reminded of an incident envolving a raccoon"...

    Looking at your Progress page, I'd suggest pushing Rebecca up to the front if you can.

    Also, I'm glad to see Birdsong so high on your list. It's the highest BBC ranked book I still haven't read. I'm going to try to move it up!

  3. Birdsong is on my top ten of all time list! I highly recommend it.

    I think I'm going with Great Expectations next but I'll do Rebecca after that. Thanks!