Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes


Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch Remember back when funny books were funny? Back before you went to college and found out that Dave Barry and Carl Hiaasen weren't funny after all, but Samuel Beckett and Charles Dickens were hilarious? Remember when the words on the page didn't just make you smile wryly and shake your head in shame for humanity, but actually made you laugh out loud? Well, that's the kind of humor that Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman's 1990 release Good Omens brims with, and it is so damn good.The two British authors were both relatively unknown at the time of their partnership, having met when Gaiman (working as a journalist at the time) interviewed Pratchett on the success of his first major novel, The Colour of Magic The two became quick friends and proceeded to write the 398 pages of the now cult classic novel by sending floppy disks through the mail and calling each other on the phone Of course, that story is all explained in the appendix, provided you don't pick up an original printing of the book (if you do do that, however, you can probably sell it for quite a bit of change, so don't be discouraged by your lack of author interviews).But the real story at hand is, of course, the narrative of Good Omens itselfthe tale of two friends, a demon named Crowley and an angel named Aziraphale who have spent all of human existence on earth and have rather come to like it, so when it comes time for the Apocalypse, they try to do whatever is in their powers to stop it The cast of costars can only described as vast, with some characters only popping in long enough for Aziraphale to take over their body or to go on a shooting rampage The main other characters though, include: the Antichrist himself, a young boy named Adam, and his gang of friends; a witchfinder named Newton Pulsifer and his love interest, Anathema Device, who just happens to be a witch (and one whose ancestor, Agnes Nutter was burned at the stake by Newton's greatgreatetc grandfather, ThouShaltNotCommitAdultery Pulsifer.Perhaps you're beginning to pick up on that sense of humor I mentioned?That's what makes this book so great I'm sort of a sucker for religious humor (and religious horror movies), and I've read a lot of books about the End Days This one has to rank near the top, maybe even as the downright finest It's humor ranges from simple little comedic bits to social commentary on religion and the human racebut no matter how big or small the joke is, every one of them is attended to equally, and they are all funny because of that Though some of the British jokes and references flew by me (a problem the authors usually account for in their humorous footnotes), I really did enjoy this book, all the way from the plot down to how it was written It really is an impressive feat for a coauthored book to feel so seemless (this honestly almost puts shame to the excellent Stephen King/Peter Straub doubleups, The Talisman and Black House).So let down your guard, pack away that condescension that your professors poured into you Lit class after Lit class, and resist the urge to turn up your nose at any novel you can buy in trade paperback form in airports for $7.99 (but higher in Canadaoh wait, not any!) I actually laughed out loud as I read Good Omens A few times, to be completely honest And that's pretty impressive for a cynical, jaded old bastard like me. (A) 80% | Very GoodNotes: Not as funny as I'd anticipated, and at times it's a bit too absurd for my tastes, but a good ending and loads of charm. “DON'T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.” The Apocalypse is not off to a good start.Ten years ago, Crowley (a demon) brought the infant AntiChrist to a group of Satanic Nuns who swapped the AntiChrist with a human child For ten years, Aziraphale (an Angel) and Crowley educate the child on the finer points of good and evil “People couldn't become truly holy, he said, unless they also had the opportunity to be definitively wicked Then, when the AntiChrist was supposed to come into his full powers, Crowley and Aziraphale realize that they didn't have the right child SH*T Further, they simultaneously realize that they rather like Earth If the holy war was allowed to finish, then everything would be destroyed and divvied up between the two realms and that divide would be terrible Hell may have all the best composers, but heaven has all the best choreographers So, it's up to them to find the AntiChrist and stop the apocalypse They only have seven to days to do it It's just going to be one of those weeks.This one was absolutely hilarious! There were so, so many fun quirks and tangents in this book Seriously great satire throughout! All the little details just make it pop Such as Crowley's planttending method: What he did was put the fear of God into them.More precisely, the fear of Crowley.In addition to which, every couple of months Crowley would pick out a plant that was growing too slowly, or succumbing to leafwilt or browning, or just didn't look quite as good as the others, and he would carry it around to all the other plants Say goodbye to your friend, he'd say to them He just couldn't cut it Then he would leave the flat with the offending plant, and return an hour or so later with a large, empty flower pot, which he would leave somewhere conspicuously around the flat.The plants were the most luxurious, verdant, and beautiful in London Also the most terrified Definitely one of those offthewall fun reads I really want to go through it a second time to see all the things I missed!The 2018 ABC Challenge G Audiobook CommentsThis one was particularly wellread by Marvin Jarvis (love the last name!) The varied tone and inflection just made it come alive.YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Snapchat @miranda.reads Happy Reading! Overall, this book was a huge disappointment for me I’d heard so many good things about it and had been meaning to read it for years When I finally started it, I was about 20 pages into it and thought, “Yes! This is going to be one of the most entertaining books I’ve ever read.” It was like reading The Hitchhiker’s Guide for the first time again It was witty and fastpaced and had so many brilliant things to say about society and religion And then about halfway through, I realized that I just wasn't really laughing as much any The story seemed to get bogged down with characters that weren’t that interesting for me to read about and who I often found a bit annoying Most notably, the 11yearold Antichrist and his friends seemed really out of place in the book They felt like they would have been at home in a Norman Rockwell painting (or British equivalent)—a ragtag bunch of kids with slingshots and backyard adventures I think that I was supposed to find them and their inane conversations entertaining, maybe even a little bit cute, but every time they came around, which felt like quite a bit, I thought that the book just screeched to a halt.Most of the other characters in the book were great fun to read—the demon and the angel and their strange sort of friendship was easily the best part of the book for me The four horsemen of the apocalypse were also a lot of fun, at least most of the time Overall, the premise was brilliant What a disappointment for me that it just couldn’t keep it together throughout The ending seemed contrived and the resolution was just unsatisfying for me I know that so many people loved this book I wish that I could have enjoyed it as much as they did. literally every day I'm thinking about how this book was published in 1990 and in 2019 they finally made a miniseries and Neil Gaiman was like hey let's make this evenof a romcom than it already was just for the fuck of itI keep trying to land on what I think is the objective Best Thing about this ridiculous book that I loved reading so much and I think I’ve landed on this paragraph from a delightful review of the 2019 miniseries: “Good Omens knows that you can’t look at a screen without being presented with some version of the apocalypse, and so it foregoes any pretence of bombastic grandeur to instead tell a charming story about the joys of friendship, as well as the everyday fuckups that make the world feel as if it’s coming to an end, when in reality it’s just another day that ends in y.” I think what’s entertaining about this book is that it takes concepts we all, on some level, are familiar with and maybe even fearful of — the possibility of imminent death, for one — and makes them entertaining and even at times comedic.In all honesty, Good Omens is a hysterically funny book about four eleven year olds, a witch working off some very accurate prophecies, a witchfinder who's doing his best, a Bentley that turns every album played in it into Queen, and an angel and a demon with a sixthousandyearold friendship¹ all trying to stop the apocalypse (Badly Very badly.) It is also a love letter to humanity and to the power of free will and choice in a world desperate to wrench it away You should read it.²TW: multiple slurs used in ways that do not fly and aren't funny.³—————¹It's called a marriage but we couldn't say that in 1990 ²Also you should watch the miniseries, it's joining the Big Little Lies season one and Gone Girl (2012) canon of best adaptations³literally picture me as John Mulaney yelling not funnyBlog | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify | Youtube Image source imdb.Don’t be misled by those who class this as fantasy, humour, or just fiction This is actually a profound philosophical and theological treatise, exploring good and evil, nature versus nurture, free will, war, pollution, and organised religion 😉But it’s cleverly disguised as a madcap caper featuring angels, demons, the M25 motorway, Manchester, raining fish, dolphins, Atlantis, aliens, the Apocalypse, the young Antichrist, Americans, footnotes for Americans, tunnelling Tibetans, witches, witchfinders, whales, Hell's Angels, Queen and Freddie Mercury, junk food made of junk, nuclear power, a flaming car, satanic nuns, an inadvertent babyswap, a book of prophecy, andbesides Lots of ineffability, too.The writing is so like Douglas Adams that it could be mistaken for a missing volume of Hitchhiker's, except for the pages of Just William slipped in, Calvino style.The Heavy StuffInscription from Terry: “We made the Devil do it…”It echoes a line in the book: “The Devil hardly ever made anyone do anything He didn’t have to.” The weight is smuggled into a plot that is simultaneously simple, complicated, and counterintuitive The Antichrist is born, but accidentally goes to a boringly normal, rural couple, rather than the intended satanists With the Apocalypse due around his 11th birthday, opposing forces try to ensure they’ll win, which requires first realising there’s been a mix up and then fixing it On that simple trunk, a plethora of subplots and an even larger number of largerthanlife characters twist, and climb, and intertwine.Amidst the chaos and the warring factions, the fundamental question is whether Adam, the young Antichrist, will fulfil his destiny, whether “Birth is just the start. Upbringing is everything” After all, the Devil started off as an angel.The Odd CoupleAziraphale (angel) and Crowley (demon) have been on Earth a long time, developed a grudging fondness for it, its inhabitants, and even each other Their tetchily cooperative, affectionately teasing relationship is central to the plot, the philosophy, and the humour.They’ve reached an “Arrangement” after realising “they havein common with their immediate opponent than their remote allies… tacit noninterference… made certain that while neither really won, also neither really lost.” Heaven wants to win the war; humanised Aziraphale comes to realise that he would prefer to avoid it.Bibliophilia“Aziraphale was an angel, but he also worshiped books.” “Aziraphale collected books If he were totally honest with himself he would have to have admitted that his bookshop was simply somewhere to store them He was not unusual in this In order to maintain his cover as a typical secondhand book seller, he used every means short of actual physical violence to prevent customers from making a purchase Unpleasant damp smells, glowering looks, erratic opening hours he was incredibly good at it.”Near where where Pratchett spent much of his life, was a cottage given over to second hand books There were no unpleasant smells, but opening hours were limited, as were payment methods Books were piled high and deep (double/triple) and vaguely sorted by category, but not by author except for Pratchett Here it is (sadly, it closed in 2018): There’s a larger version in my GR photos HERE Quotes Religion* “God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of any of the other players [i.e everybody], to being involved in an obscure and complex variant of poker in a pitchdark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won't tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.”I particularly like the fact the last phrase is emphasised with italics, even though, in a pitchdark room, it’s barely relevant * “When it came to avoiding going to church, the church he solidly avoided going to was… nononsense Church of England.”* “Being brought up as a Satanist tended to take the edge off it A Saturday thing.”* Crowley is embarrassed by the enthusiasm of satanists, just as a “Vietnam veteran would feel about someone who wears combat gear to Neighbourhood Watch meetings” * “Voodoun is a very interesting religion for the whole family, even those members of it who are dead.”* “Marvin got religion Not the quiet, personal kind, that involves doing good deeds and living a better life; not even the kind that involves putting on a suit and ringing people’s door bells; but the kind that involves having your own TV network and getting people to send you money.”Quotes Good and Evil* “Most demons weren’t deep down evil” but like “tax inspectors doing an unpopular job, maybe, but essential to the overall operation”.* Often, the difference between good and evil isn’t obvious: some of the world leaders Aziraphale thinks good are assumed to be evil by Crowley.* “If we beat them we’d have to be our own deadly enemies… it’s no good anyone winning” So, “You just had to decide who your friends really were.” Quotes Destiny versus Free WillSlightly spoilery.* “You can’t refuse to be who you are… Your birth and destiny are part of the Great Plan.”“I don’t see why it matters what is written… It can always be crossed out.”* “He was left alone! He grew up human! He’s not Evil Incarnate or Good Incarnate, he’s just… a human incarnate.”* “No one around Adam was ever in full control of their own mind”.Quotes Time* “The future came and went in the mildly discouraging way that futures do.”* “Memory… works backwards as well as forwards… Agnes didn’t see the future That’s just a metaphor She remembered it.”* “On the cusp of recollection, a memory of things that hadn’t happened.”* Accurate predictions are little use if they’re too narrow and specific For example, “Do notte buye Betamacks” was only meaningful for a few short years.* “DON’T THINK OF IT AS DYING, said Death JUST THINK OF IT AS LEAVING EARLY TO AVOID THE RUSH.”Quotes People and Relationships* “Many people, meeting Aziraphale for the first time, formed three impressions: that he was English, that he was intelligent, and that he was gayer than a tree full of monkeys on nitrous oxide.”* “Courting is always difficult when… an elderly female relative in the house… It’s much worse when the relative has been dead for three hundred years.”* “Newt had indeed been harbouring certain thoughts about Anathema; not just harbouring them, in fact, but drydocking them, refitting them, giving them a good coat of paint and scraping the barnacles off their bottom.”* “Pollution [one of the Apocalyptic Horsepersons], while still walking, nevertheless gave the impression of oozing.”Quotes Other* “A rainswept courtyard full of righteous dustbins.”* “Leaping gratefully onto this new ice floe in the bewildering stream of consciousness.”* “Her spelling… was not so much appalling as three hundred years too late.” Similarly, if anyone questions something my father says or writes, he claims it’s just archaic; impossible to disprove!* “Every dog is still only two meals away from being a wolf.”Quote Best OneLinerA Hell’s Angel asks one of the biking Four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse what chapter they belong to: “REVELATIONS, he said CHAPTER SIX ‘Verses two to eight’, added the boy… helpfully.”TV AdaptationFab cast, and Gaimain was heavily involved, so my hopes were high, and largely rewarded David Tennant as Crowley and Michael Sheen as Aziraphale were brilliant together, and it looked great It suffered a little from being too similar to the very recent adaptation of American Gods (see my review HERE) And Aziraphale's bibliophilia was underplayed, but overall, good Photo from imdb. One of my alltime favorite books Up there with Hitchhiker's Guide. ‘Armageddon only happens once, you know They don’t let you go around again until you get it right’People have been predicting the end of the world almost from its very beginning, so it’s only natural to be sceptical when a new date is set for Judgement Day But what if, for once, the predictions are right, and the apocalypse really is due to arrive next Saturday, just after tea?You could spend the time left drowning your sorrows, giving away all your possessions in preparation for the rapture, or laughing it off as hopefully just another hoax Or you could just try to do something about itIt’s a predicament that Aziraphale, a somewhat fussy angel, and Crowley, a fastliving demon now finds themselves in They’ve been living amongst Earth’s mortals since The Beginning and, truth be told, have grown rather fond of the lifestyle and, in all honesty, are not actually looking forward to the coming ApocalypseAnd then there’s the small matter that someone appears to have misplaced the Antichrist… I knew from the first page that this book would not work for me.I slogged through about half of it and gave up I lost the thread of the plot long before due to my lack of interest in everything this book is It all felt forced, like the themes and ideas were shoved into the narrative and that the plot had to adapt to fit them in It was trying too hard to be funny rather than actually being funny Life is far too short for books I don’t enjoy And I could never enjoy this It felt like it was written by two guys who had just finished school and were ready to explode their ideas into some creative project that could be a piece of brilliance or a real chore depending on the reader tastes And this just sent me right to sleep I was glad to stop when I did.I think my main problem is that I’ve seen how much better each writer can do I’ve read Gaiman at his best I’ve been inspired by his words and I have found part of myself in his stories I’ve laughed out loud with Pratchett and I’ve tasted the sharpness of his wit This felt like a shadow of what each writer can do; it holds a mere suggestion of the brilliance and creative spark each would wield at his fingertips It was just juvenile Maybe I came into with the wrong mindset Maybe I expected too much or perhaps the humour is just wasted on me Either way, this one just isn’t for me. In my personal hierarchy of books, this one comes a close second after Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita What can I say like (diabolical) father, like (infernal) son It may help to understand human affairs to be clear that most of the great triumphs and tragedies of history are caused not by people being fundamentally good or fundamentally bad, but by people being fundamentally people.In a way, I can view this book as my own personal therapy session¹ that is, in addition to it being a hilarious dryhumor take on Armageddon and the everdual nature of humanity, its highs and lows and our ability to be both, frequently almost at the same time.¹ As a kid, I had a habit of getting into the books clearly not meant for my age like, for instance, The Omen, featuring the world's most infamous tricycle My eightyearold self was petrified For months, I had nightmares, was scared of dogs, mistrustful of tricycles and had an irrational dislike of the number 666 Eightyearolds with overactive imaginations were really NOT the intended audience of *that* book, after all.WARNING: THERE WILL BE MILD SPOILERS BECAUSE I CAN As predicted by the titular 17th century witch Agnes Nutter in her extremely nice accurate book of prophecies, handed down through centuries to her last living professional descendant Anathema Device, Armageddon is quickly approaching The four Horsepersons of the Apocalypse have set out on their way, and that must mean things are getting serious You're Hells Angels, then? What chapter are you from?[] REVELATIONS, CHAPTER SIX.“Death and Famine and War and Pollution continued biking towards Tadfield And Grievous Bodily Harm, Cruelty To Animals, Things Not Working Properly Even After You've Given Them A Good Thumping but secretly No Alcohol Lager, and Really Cool People travelled with them.” And this upcoming major event is a source of some serious worry for eternalenemiesturnedreluctantfriends Aziraphale (An angel, and a parttime rare book dealer) and Crowley (An Angel who did not so much Fall as Saunter Vaguely Downwards), the duo who, after six thousand years, have gone native and would infinitely prefer this world to the future where either side wins the future (oh the horror!) without good music or bookshops or sushi restaurants And so the unlikely allies decide to band together to prevent the end of the world.That's how it goes, you think you're on top of the world, and suddenly they spring Armageddon on you Except things do not go as planned You see, the young 'Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan, and Lord of Darkness', due to an unforeseen turn of circumstances, happens to grow up outside of the influence of either celestial/underworld force Aptly named Adam, he grows up as his name suggests perfectly human, in a little corner of paradise the English village of Lower Tadfield But Agnes Nutter is never wrong, and as her prophesies suggest, shortly after Adam's eleventh birthday (on which he DOES get a much wanted Hellhound Dog) the events of the end of the world are set in their inevitable, ineffable motion But Adam's essential humanity puts a new spin on this old story:Something was happening inside his head.It was aching Thoughts were arriving there without him having to think them Something was saying, You can do something, Adam Young You can make it all better You can do anything you want And what was saying this to him was him Part of him, deep down Part of him that had been attached to him all these years and not really noticed, like a shadow It was saying: yes, it's a rotten world It could have been great But now it's rotten, and it's time to do something about it That's what you're here for To make it all better.The problem with the Antichrist Adam is that he, a human elevenyearold boy, is fueled unexpectedly by Love and righteous indignation He loves this world, and he, coming into his power, wants a very human thing he wants to make it better Don't we all? But do (and can?) his good intentions make any difference in the way things have been prophesied to go? It's like you said the other day, said Adam You grow up readin' about pirates and cowboys and spacemen and stuff, and jus' when you think the world's all full of amazin' things, they tell you it's really all dead whales and choppeddown forests and nucular waste hangin' about for millions of years 'Snot worth growin' up for, if you ask my opinion If there is one thing this book gets through it's the belief in humanity Not in its wickedness or goodness or anything like that Just humanity, in all the multifaceted nature of it, in its righteousness and wretchedness, love and cruelty, strengths and weaknesses, stupidity and wisdom And just when you'd think they weremalignant than ever Hell could be, they could occasionally showgrace than Heaven ever dreamed of Often the same individual was involved It was this freewill thing, of course It was a bugger.Sometimes, maybe, when left to our own devices, when not preached to in one way or another, we can perhaps develop into flawed but hopefully decent beings like Adam, named after the first human in the prophetic fashion, after all Because what makes life interesting, as a particular angel and demon would loudly attest to, is precisely the combination of good and evil, nice and nasty, mean and kind that we all possess, in the precarious and miraculous balance that is the true treasure of humanity Because it makes us act like people.I don't see what's so triflic about creating people as people and then gettin' upset 'cos they act like people,” said Adam severely “Anyway, if you stopped tellin' people it's all sorted out after they're dead, they might try sorting it all out while they're alive.And maybe, just maybe, due to our alwaysbalancing nature on the borderline between two conflicting universes that we, humans, inhabit, we will be able to eventually figure it out without anyone messing with our heads, filling them with the Good or the Evil, endlessly preaching what they believe to be true but simple letting us be ourselves Maybe we will figure things out on our own.Adam stood smiling at the two of them, a small figure perfectly poised exactly between Heaven and Hell.Crowley grabbed Aziraphale's arm You know what happened? he hissed excitedly He was left alone! He grew up human! He's not Evil Incarnate or Good Incarnate, he's just a human incarnate.============================== The brilliant Pratchett/Gaiman duo provides everything these two authors are famous for easy readability, dry intelligent sarcasminfused humor, seamless plot that pushes the limits of imagination while staying perfectly grounded in (albeit fantastical) reality, and first and foremost, very apt observations about human nature, as well as (in a true Pratchettlike way) a complete irreverence for the setinstone beliefs and ideas At times it's easy for those familiar with their respective styles to tell which one of them penned which part, at times it's impossible but it doesn't matter as their writing styles blend together so well, so seamlessly, so seemingly effortlessly.This is an excellent book both funny and serious, at times utterly unpredictable, at times baffling, at times logical It's a pleasure to read, and a pleasure to seriously reflect upon after having a good laugh And for all of that it gets the ineffable five stars He stared down at the golden curls of the Adversary, Destroyer of Kings, Angel of the Bottomless Pit, Great Beast that is called Dragon, Prince of This World, Father of Lies, Spawn of Satan, and Lord of Darkness.You know, he concluded, after a while, I think he actually looks like an Adam June 2013: I just listened to this one on audiobook AGAIN I love itandwith each time I do I have to advise if you plan to listen to this one, please get the British version with Stephen Briggs as the narrator (Isis Publishing) it is lightyears better than Harper Audio Stephen Briggs is amazing!

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