It feels like I must have been in high school when I came across the book Good Omens, although I am sure it must have been later because I wouldn’t have handled it’s criticisms of religion with the light heartiness that I did and high school me didn’t know who Neil Gaiman even was
I had also (briefly) given up on reading even though I still tried to write. I stopped reading for the same reason a lot of high school aged kids stop reading. We’re taught that the only serious books out there are the likes Shakespeare and Twain and Chaucer and Milton and so on. We’re not exposed to how fun reading can be or how interesting a book can be. High school English programs are just a place to sift out the literature students for college courses.
But I’m way off topic. When I first heard about Good Omens and heard everyone speak so highly of it and the authors I couldn’t wait to get my hands on a copy. Amazon didn’t have their LOOK INSIDE feature back then and I didn’t trust ordering books online anymore after a copy of a book on writing had taken six months to reach me.
I settled for getting the book from Barnes and Noble and read through the first bit in a rush, but as I progressed my reading slowed and I grew tired of the characters. The children in the book were following that pattern that 90’s sitcoms seemed to follow: once there’s children on the screen/page count on everything being a little less funny.
This was the first thing Gaiman I had ever picked up and I remember thinking I really wanted to like the guy. Not because he’s a writer and some kind of master of the craft, but because there was a girl that I liked back then who adored him and somehow I thought that liking him would lead to—I don’t know what I thought it would lead to. It was a simpler time, the middle part of last decade.
I like Gaiman now, but I feel like I might need to give up on this book like I gave up on it the other times. We don’t really have to read anything we don’t want to. Not every book is going to please every person and if you’re not getting any enjoyment out of it why read it at all?
Now, there’s a school of thought that says that reading anything for a writer is like learning little lessons. There are some little lessons not worth finding out. That’s why my Kindle copy of Fifty Shades of Grey will probably forever be frozen at 53%. That’s why I refuse to read anything with shirtless hairless men on the cover. This isn’t anything against Pratchett or Gaiman.
Fiction and fantasy has changed a bit since the early 1990s and it’s easy to see the tine periods influence on the book. I’m sure it’s kind of hard for new listeners to get into Bell Biv Devoe or Duran Duran, but we don’t hold it against them. Writing is expected to be timeless, but I think that’s just because our school system and academics have forced us to keep reading shit that’s hundreds of years old.
In truth nothing is really timeless. And nothing is going to gel well with everyone, least of all if they try and force it. Sometimes you have to learn to let things slip past and just accept that they’re not meant for you.
Artwork Credit: http://ormery.deviantart.com/art/good-omens-fanart-180159896