on 5 March 2011
Now, I am a terrible, terrible person with books. I usually get about three quarters of the way through, think I'm really into it, then give up and never go back to it. This book was one of the very very few I finished. A quickly. It is such a beautifully surreal, fantastical, romantic, dramatic, funny, wonderful story. When I stopped reading, the real world had this certain etherial spark to it. I would recommend this story to anybody. It is an inspiring story which pieces together in the most perfect and well thought out way.
on 18 December 2011
Andrew Kaufman has succeeded in creating a literary classic with this one. Magic realism at its very best, The Waterproof Bible is a quirky, whimsical story dealing with the oddest mix of characters you will ever read about, who all intersect each others' lives in one way or another over the course of a few days.
You have Rebecca, an extraordinarily ordinary woman who involuntarily broadcasts her emotions onto others. When she's happy, everyone can feel her happiness, when she's sad, everyone can feel her sadness, and when she's scared, everyone can feel her fear - however, she's found a way to trap and store her emotions in personal objects and storing them at Unit 207, E.Z. Self-Storage, which left her capable of lying to people about her real feelings and hiding them from everyone, including those who actually cared. An incident with a tap left on flooded some of her boxes (premonition of the larger flood that will occur later in the book?), forcing her to throw them out and with them her emotional attachment to the people concerned with these objects.
There's Lewis, Rebecca's brother-in-law, who has just lost his wife and decided to flee the city rather than cope with the situation, but ended up meeting a woman who claims to be God.
Then there's Aby, a frog humanoid who left the water in search of her estranged mother on dry land. One important fact about Aby is that she's an Aquatic - Aquatics are those who believe and follow the Aquaticism religion - (don't worry, Kaufman goes into great depth explaining the basics of the religion to us). There's also Margaret, Aby's mother and she owns (sort of) a hotel and does not want to go back to Aquaticism.
Finally, there's Stewart, Rebecca's husband, who left her three years prior and is now building a boat while he waits for his wife to make the final call.
Each one of these characters have one thing in common - they are all waiting for that one moment when lightning strikes, so their feeling of loss diminishes. Rebecca loses her emotions when her sister dies, Lewis loses his senses when his wife dies, Stewart loses his wife as their relationship dies, Margaret loses her family and home as her religion dies, and Aby loses her mother as her beliefs die. In one intersecting moment, they all meet and miracles happen.
This book, or shall I say 'bible', is full of visuals, metaphors, allegory and all other forms of imagery. It is satiric, yet biblical - at the same time it is a love story that is cliché-free. From floods, to moments of enlightenment, to a meeting with God, to blindness, to thunderstorms and saving lives, this book will take you on an exciting journey of self-discovery and awakening. You will be left bewildered by the end of it, with so much happening but very little explanation to any of it. Yet, that's the beauty of this novel, the unexplainable is what makes it so fascinating.
Call it a case study on the search for the true meaning of life, a serious discussion of God, faith, and religion, a light comic romp, or a love story. Whatever it is, it will get to you. It will make you question life, connect with these characters at some level and take a deeper look within yourself. But it will also make you sit with a smile on your face while you read it, chuckling at all the funny bits as you appreciate Kaufman's originality and wit.
My favourite line in the book was: "The only difference between a happy ending and a sad ending is where you decide the story ends."
So Kaufman writes, and so we should all believe.
This book revolves around three characters; Rebecca, who keeps her feelings stored in boxes to prevent her from transmitting them to those around her, Lewis, her brother in law, who escapes to the other side of the country instead of attending his late wife's funeral and Aby (which is short for Aberystwyth), who his actually a green aquatic creature uncomfortable when out of water. I'm sure that many people would read that synopsis and think that this book wasn't for them. Whilst I agree that in some cases they could be right because this is undeniably a very quirky book, but many others could be making a big mistake because they would be missing out on a sweet, good natured book which is a totally captivating read from first page to last.
If Kaufman's previous book `All my Friends are Superheroes' has become a cult classic this book should become one too, because not only is it a more substantial book it is also a superior, more rounded book.
on 26 November 2012
I really didn't want to finish this book. The characters, even the not strictly human ones, are fascinating and their adventures are entertaining and thought provoking. I think the plot may have been strung together by unlikely coincidences but I barely noticed them and easily forgave the odd Kindle typo. I was carried away by the tale, you see.
Reading Waterproof Bible was like eating a box of sublime chocolates, each short chapter a unique delicately wrapped sweet. I didn't know whether to savour every one or gorge the lot. I tried to do both, but gorged mostly.
on 31 July 2012
Rebecca has suffered since the day she was born with an overwhelming and uncontrollable ability to project her emotions - an issue she has finally resolved with a handy storage unit containing boxes of mementos, which keeps her excess emotions in check. On the day of her sister Lisa's funeral she suddenly realises she has lost touch with some of her feelings which she desperately needs and she realises it is time to deal with her issues - but how? Aby is a little green around the gills. Raised as a staunch Aquatic (the religion of an underwater civilisation which evolved following the Flood) she is breathing air for the first time as she crosses the country in a stolen car, on a mission to `rescue' her landlocked, heretical mother Elizabeth before the opportunity is gone. Elizabeth is running a little-visited hotel in the mountains aided only by Stewart, who in his spare time is building a boat and taking phonecalls from his troubled ex, Rebecca. Oh, and Lisa's husband Lewis has met a woman who tells him she is God, but God's voice is not quite what he might have expected, and has some unforeseen effects...
"Stewart got out of the truck and walked into the wheat field he'd parked beside. The stalks grew higher the deeper into the field he went. He continued walking. The stalks were slightly taller than his waist, but he still didn't know what to say."
While overwhelming emotions is a problem most of us can already empathise with, it takes a little more suspension of belief to take at face value an Aquatic race living alongside our own (although unknown to most humans), and manifestations of God. However, Kaufman's first full-length novel builds on the success and quirky characterisation of 'All My Friends Are Superheroes'; and the unreal/supernatural elements can be read as `real' or metaphorical, as the reader prefers. Think of it as a fable with a more complex plot structure and you won't go far wrong.
"The toast popped. Rebecca watched as Lisa smeared forgiveness onto it. She dumped two heaping spoonfuls of forgiveness into a mug and filled it with coffee. Lisa carried the toast and the coffee from the counter to the table, setting both in front of Rebecca. She sat across the table and looked at her expectantly. Rebecca took a tiny bite of the toast. The forgiveness was very bitter and she could hardly swallow."
I enjoyed this book, but not as much as 'Superheroes'. It is concisely written with some cleverly constructed imagery, lots of interesting characters and the converging storylines soon align neatly - a little too neatly, perhaps: the exposition of the Aquatic religion/philosophies outlining some of the story's themes, and the signposting of how the stories might/would converge was sometimes a little too obvious, and there were times when I felt the (slightly new-age) message overpowered the story rather than allowing the story to expose the message implicitly. On the other hand, I really did enjoy the story, the journey, the characters and the little moments of humour throughout. And spirituality aside, at its core (like Superheroes) it is a love story, perfect if you are looking for a slightly off-beat, light and uplifting read.
on 27 June 2012
While most reviewers of this book have nothing but praise for the unusual story and characters, I find my self on the fence with this one.
Admittedly Kauffman has provided a story with a very interesting and original plot and the execution and writing style is good, but there was something missing in this book. I'm a reader who can generally get through a book in 2 or 3 days, yet with this one (which is actually quite short) it took me longer. I think the main reason behind my lack of enthusiasm for this story was the fact that I couldn't really get a sense of the characters and their motivations, as the narrative would switch between one of three characters every other chapter.
Overall though, it was an enjoyable read and I really liked the ending - they each got a cathartic and individual ending which was satisfying to their character-type. I think I would give this book a 7/10 rating overall.
on 4 January 2014
I had never heard of Andrew Kaufman but was intrigued by the title. Once I started reading though I couldn't put it down. And unlike so many novels I've read in the past few years, this was brilliant all through - no disappointing ending when it seems like the writer has run out of ideas, can't be bothered to think of a proper ending and just needs to finish the story any which way (hello "White Teeth"). I loved it from start to finish: quirky and moving, it was one of the best books I have read in a long time.
on 23 February 2012
This is the third of Andrew Kaufman's books that I have read and enjoyed. I think he has created a category of literature almost exclusively his own, something like 'bizarre realism'. His unique voice is deceptively simple, but beneath the surface this is a cleverly constructed story. Bizarre as his characters are, they live in a world very much our own, but one observed through whimsical, if a little melancholic, eyes. Well done Mr Kaufman, more of the same please; the same, but different.
on 2 February 2013
This is one of the best books that I have read in a long time.
If you haven't read anything by Andrew Kaufman, you should.
The story is quirky, imaginative and surreal, yet the characters are so believable that it evokes empathy and wonder at the same time.
Last year, I read 'All my friends and superheroes' and enjoyed it so much that I bought every single one of my closest friends the book for xmas.
It is very tempting to do the same with this incredible book.
on 15 August 2014
A story of redemption, love, grief and forgiveness, so far so good.......
The tale of Rebecca Lisa Stewart and Lewis was enough for me, the green slimy characters seemed entirely unnecessary. At times it was tricky keeping track of all the characters (each chapter tells a different characters story) until eventually it all came together in a rather predictable way at the end.
2 stars for Rebecca's tale, zero for the rest.