Wednesday, 13 February 2013

January 2013 - The Waterproof Bible by Andrew Kaufman

This book was weird; not necessarily a bad thing as about two thirds of our group loved its quirkiness.
A few of us felt we were missing a point, others found the religious metaphors completely relevant. One of the members completely hated the book, not being able to get their head around a giant green frog driving around in a stolen, white Honda Civic... As a group, we discussed the several stories that ran throughout the book, some of which had great potential and we would have preferred for these stories to be developed more over the linking in of them all to each other. The characters were all grieving in one way or another, and this continued to be a theme throughout all of their individual stories.
Even though the main character Aby, was an aquatic being with gills, walking on land searching for her lost mother, the books spiritual elements were very believable such as grief and the following of religion. One member suggested that as religion is a risky subject to approach, it was a really clever idea to use a made up religion practiced by a fictional race, it made it new to all of us too. Aby’s story wasn't really meant to be believable, but most of us could see how her life resembled our own in certain ways. No one really mentioned Rebecca’s ability to have her feelings felt by those around her, although it was mostly thought to be a nice idea, showing her weaknesses. The way all of the characters dealt with their grief was entirely believable; although not always very emotional (they were quite cold).
Margaret was a strong character, and we liked her for balancing out the weaknesses from the other characters, although she ran away too, as it seemed everyone kept doing throughout the book! We found her quite funny at times, squatting in a hotel and passing it off as her own and her throwing an apple at Aby. As a group, we tended to like the real characters more, as some of us struggled to grasp the Aquatic race. Lewis was grieving for his wife, although we struggled to feel sorry for him, his encounters with “God” were weird, some people loved this character but don’t feel that she was developed well enough, or we didn't see enough of her. Rebecca wasn't really liked too much, she lacked some emotion, and although that was the point once she started throwing away her “feelings” we found that we ended up resenting her after she had cleared out her boxes at EZ Storage. Most of the characters do come full circle in their stories and the ultimate biblical reference was Stuart and his boat; when the floods came it was like Noah and his Ark. The rainmakers were thought to be a nice addition, their trade perhaps being more interesting than their abandoned Father/Son relationship. Overall though, there were too Many characters and we felt that the book would have been better if Andrew Kaufman created less, and developed the main stories more.
The book made us realise how well the Aquatic religion runs parallel with land religions, and how it’s usually extreme in needing to make choices: Choose one thing or the other. Many of us have suffered grief, and as a main theme throughout the book, felt that this was portrayed accurately, with most of the characters being in denial. It also proved how hard relationships are and although most of the characters had messed up at some point, they managed to get through their mistakes. As an addition, we liked the quotes that “God” came up with, for example “Why do bad things happen to good people? It makes a good story”.
We had trouble remembering how this book ended, even the members who had only just finished the day of the meet, it just wasn't memorable. Although it didn't have any loose ends, it was too sudden and still left us asking questions. We did discuss that the ending seemed rushed, but was that reflecting the fact that there was a genuine urgency in each of the characters stories? It was nice that Aby and Margaret were reunited and that the flood, helped to unite both the Aquatic home Aby loved and the land home that Margaret had grown to call her own.The writing style was very easy to read and kept flowing. Even the members who didn't like the book found themselves reading the next chapter because it wasn't a chore. We have a few Kaufman fans and they agree that this isn't his best work, but only three people said they wouldn't bother reading another book of his in the future.
Nineteen people came to this meeting and gave the book an average score of 6.3 out of 10, our lowest being 1, and our highest score was 8.

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