This week in Bwog’s Book Club, senior staffer Betsy Ladyzhets explains why you haven’t lived until you’ve read Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. Bwog’s Book Club was started this January with the intention of spreading the literary love around campus and encourage you to pick up a book, as opposed to your iPhone, in your spare time. If you have a piece of literature, be it novel, essay, or anything non-fiction, that you want to share with the student population, please feel free to email us: firstname.lastname@example.org. We can’t wait to hear from you!
Would I recommend: To anyone with a pulse. And even some without. Read this to your plants!
A basic outline: The Antichrist has risen, and the apocalypse is coming. Every angel and demon is preparing for the ultimate showdown between the forces of Good and Evil. Except for two: Aziraphale and Crowley, an angel and demon respectively who happen to rather like Earth (and each other) and would prefer for it to not end for at least a thousand more years. So, they embark on a quest to find the Antichrist (an eleven-year-old kid in the countryside with a very good dog), stop the apocalypse, and basically return everything to the status quo.
My review: Good Omens is one of the funniest books ever written. It combines the descriptive talents of Terry Pratchett (of Discworld fame) with the suspense talents of Neil Gaiman (of Sandman, American Gods, etc. fame) and the character- and world-building talents of both. The narrative pulls you in, gets you invested, and basically doesn’t let you think about anything else until you’ve finished. Parts of this novel are so ridiculous that they must be believed, including a cassette player that only plays Queen’s greatest hits and secret witch-hunting society which relies upon counting nipples. And parts of the novel are philosophically fascinating, calling into question the divisions between “good” and “evil,” the ineffability of divine forces, and the nature of fate itself.
This book is also one of my personal favorites because it’s the ultimate example of successful co-writing. Writing a novel is a weird, lonely act, but working with a co-author, if you find the right person, can make it constantly exciting; any problem or question you have about the story, the other person will know just what to say in order to tease it out. Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman collaborated on Good Omens in the age before Google docs; an author’s note at the end of my edition explains how they literally mailed floppy disks back and forth in order to keep the narrative going. And clearly, the strategy paid off: this book is now “the most repaired book in the world” (from the Forward). Reading it reminds me of how wonderful the creative process can be when you share it with someone else.
Plus, now is the perfect time to read Good Omens, because it’s about to be Amazon Prime’s next big hit: a six-episode miniseries (with a script developed by Gaiman himself) starring Michael Sheen as Aziraphale and David Tennant as Crowley will be streaming this spring.
If you aren’t convinced to read Good Omens yet, here’s a gallery of photos from my ancient copy. Annotations and all.