Book Fight!

Tough love for literature

Episode 89: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens

4 Comments

This week’s book is a bit outside our usual reading habits, but it was chosen for us by a donor to the show during our last fund drive. Neither of us had read anything by either Gaiman or Pratchett before, though we were both aware of their reputations, and we knew this book in particular was something of a cult classic. So we gave it a read, and then tried to figure out what it was, exactly, that made it so beloved to so many people.

Gaiman

During the episode we talk about the book’s humor, and whether it’s appropriate for adults. We try to decide if it’s a satire and, if so, what exactly it’s satirizing. We contemplate the possibility we’re both just a couple of grumps. Oh, and we shit on The Goonies a little, too, just for good measure.

Enjoy!

Here’s a link to the Tom Robbins episode we mentioned a couple times. Here’s a link to Philip Hoare’s The Sea Inside, and his previous book The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea. Speaking of our recommendations, you can follow Mike on Instagram @mikeingram00.

As always, we’re happy to hear what you think about the stuff we discussed. You can email us directly, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. Also: we’re now on Facebook! So come visit us over there, where we are slowly getting better about posting candid studio photos and links to stuff we’ve talked about on the show.

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Author: mikeingram25

writer, editor

4 thoughts on “Episode 89: Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett, Good Omens

  1. I read and enjoyed GOOD OMENS when I was in high school, around ’95, ’96.

    One of the reasons it made such a strong impact on me was the fact the mid 90s were when this end of the century anxiety started becoming a big deal. Obviously, it entered the mainstream by ’99 with the Y2K panic, but even before then I remember a lot of church groups taking advantage of the end of the century to promote the idea the world was ending. I attended many crusades during that year that focused on the book of Revelation, I even remember CTV pre-empted their programming one night for a Billy Graham crusade during which he spoke about the impending judgement day.

    It’s easy to swallow a lot of this stuff when you’re 16. I went through a long period of obsessing about the coming Biblical apocalypse (there was likely some undiagnosed anxiety disorder going on). I remember having panic attacks whenever it stormed. I would hide in the basement with a Bible, praying. I would go a day or two with no sleep because I was afraid bad shit would happen as soon as I went to sleep. You know how sometimes there’s pollution in the atmosphere and it makes the moon look red? That happened one night when I was stoned, and because “the moon turning to blood” was a harbinger of the apocalypse I freaked out and ran off into the woods.

    Reading GOOD OMENS during this period, I found the book to be both humorous and frightening. Then, the more I read it, the less frightening this Biblical end of the world stuff seemed. I wasn’t totally cured in that instant, but there were some cracks in my fear, and as time went on, storms didn’t bother me as much and when my friends would invite me to some end-of-time church meeting I’d say, “No thanks.”

    I have no idea how I’d enjoy GOOD OMENS if I read it again today, but as a 16 year old, the book literally changed my life for the better. That’s got to be worth 4 stars on Good Reads.

    • I bet that would’ve dramatically changed my response too. It really does read like a book I would’ve loved when I was younger. And so many of the reviews mention stories like yours – falling in love with the book when they were younger and it changing the way they read and thought about the world. Hard to argue with someone’s experience of a book like that.

  2. I’m a huge Terry Pratchett fan, but Good Omens wasn’t really all that amazing for me either. I’ve never really been drawn in by any of Neil Gaiman’s work though, so maybe that’s a factor? I suppose also my ‘reading it as a teenager’ came in, like, 2005, and most of the ‘end of the millennium’ fervor had petered out by then.
    Small Gods would be my go-to introduction to Pratchett book. It’s a good example of his style and you don’t need to have read a whole bunch of his other Discworld books in order to get everything out of it.
    One day I’d like to re-read the whole series to see how it holds up, but that’s like 40 books. I can barely keep up with all the new books I want to read, I don’t know if I even have the time anymore to sink into something like that.

    • Hey! I’m the guy who forced them to read Pterry. “Small Gods” was actually the other option I gave them, mostly because it popped up on a lot of the retrospective articles. But I haven’t read that book since I was a teenager, so I wasn’t too confident in the choice. Similarly, I hadn’t read “Good Omens” in years, but I know it has a massive fan community online, so I was optimistic that there’d at least be a good edition of Mike’s Fanfiction Corner.

      (To stick up for “Good Omens” a little, it came out in 1990. The satanic panic from the 80s was still a thing. A comedy about armageddon featuring the Anti-Christ — and it’s definitely a comedy, for good or ill — would’ve been controversial at the time.)

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