I first heard of Andrew Kaufman in 2007 when I visited Newcastle and saw some old friends there. One of them, Wayne, gave me a copy of a little book, All My Friends are Superheroes by Kaufman. He told me that he liked the book so much that he kept copies of it to give to people. This immediately made me wary but nevertheless I did enjoy the book – plus it was very short. I became a little tired of the overt quirkiness by the end but overall it was fun.
That said when I saw The Waterproof Bible I somehow thought it was a ‘straight’ novel and was intrigued. How I got this impression I don’t know.
The Waterproof Bible follows four or five interconnected characters. We have Rebecca who involuntarily broadcasts her feelings to everyone around her, Lewis her brother-in-law newly bereaved who meets God in a launderette, Stewart her estranged husband who’s building a boat in the middle of the landlocked Canadian Praire. Finally there’s Aberystwyth and Margaret, a daughter and mother pair of amphibious beings. Margaret has been living and passing as human on land and Aby, who according to her religion believes it’s a sin to die ‘unwatered’, is racing to find her and bring her back to the sea before it’s too late. Oh and there’s a father and son pair of rainmakers in there too.
So not a ‘straight’ novel then. Not fantasy either really. I guess this is what you’d call magical realism? It’s surreal and metaphorical and possibly allegorical. However unlike All My Friends are Superheroes it never became too quirky for me, or maybe I just accepted it. I just found it kind of beautiful. It’s certainly very warm about its characters and their non-realistic problems become very affecting and even moving. I know some people will find it too quirky or be bothered by the metaphors but if you’re not one of those people then you might just find this a charming, funny, warm-hearted read.
8/10 – poetic, magical, funny, human.