Many months ago in an effort to reclaim my life in some small way I decided that I was going to go to a bookstore. It had literally been years since I had set foot in one by myself with the sole intention of actually purchasing something to read, rather than browse titles and play with knickknacks to pass the time. After nearly three hours of picking up books and setting them back down again I finally left the store with two stuffed under my arm and a receipt balled up in my fist .
I had purchased Stiff by Mary Roach,a non-fictional romp through the wilds of what happens to your body after you die; and Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and the late Terry Pratchett, which deserves a much more thorough description.
That night I got about 80 pages into Good Omens and several days later that copy of the book disappeared from my life never to be seen again. My dearest Jason who I had been in a relationship with for 5 years when faced with the prospect of the timeline of “us” coming to an end decided to move to Colorado to be with his family and he took the book with him for the plane ride. I don’t really mind that he took the book because it is clear that it is something he needed. I did not realize that Good Omens is the sort of book that someone might need until I finished it but I am so very glad that he was able to have it at that time in our lives.
Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch is the story of the end of the world as foretold in the book of revelations of the bible, and what could or could not possibly happen. It does a beautiful job of describing, in great detail, the faults of the human condition: the biggest of which is our insistence of greyness when it comes to morality, whether that insistence be an actual choice or not.
2 weeks ago I purchased Good Omens again.
Over the past week I re-read those first 80 pages and finally finished it this morning despite what seemed to be the word attempting to prevent me from having moment to just sit, read, think, and reflect.
The book; which condition of such could now be best described as “well loved” is dog-eared, has a coffee stain on the inside back cover and curry spots on some of the pages closer to the middle, where I had forgotten that it is hard to hold a book and use chopsticks to eat at the same time. The outside pages have dirt of the edges and the covers have black pencil marks from rolling around in my backpack on my long walks to and from work everyday. Over the past several days the book has literally never left my side.
Now that I’m finished I can say that I read the book precisely when I was meant to. I am so relieved that I did not read Good Omens back when I bought it the first time because it really would not have had the impact that it has had on me now.
(The congruence with the general theme of the book and my saying that “I read the book precisely when I was meant to” is not lost on me I assure you)
I hope that the comfort that comes from the idea of the ineffable, the idea that if fate is unspoken then what is to say that by changing it you are not doing precisely what you are supposed to? Helped Jason when we were becoming to separate people, just as it is comforting me now as I take several huge steps to change my life and steer into the direction of the unknown, and as the world changes in ways I never could have imagined.
“I don’t see what’s so triffic 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 while they’re alive.” -p. 335 Good Omens
Read. This. Book.