Andrew Kaufman writes strange and wonderful books. His first novel, All My Friends Are Superheroes, features an invisible hero. To save his marriage he must convince his super-heroine wife that he is still there, sitting next to her on a flight to Vancouver. And he has to do it before the plane lands. That book has become something of a cult hit, and this latest novel is equally inventive. The Waterproof Bible is another charming love story that manages to be funny, amusing and touching in all the right places. What the plot might lack in suspense and action, it more than makes up for with a group of characters who shine.
Rebecca projects her emotions. Her feelings are an open book to those around her, and the stronger they are the farther they travel. At a young age she discovered that she can contain these emotions within everyday objects. The result is E-Z Self Storage Unit #207, where her entire emotional life is organized inside of hundreds of clearly labeled cardboard boxes.
Lewis is Rebecca’s brother-in-law. His wife Lisa (Rebecca’s sister) has just died. Wrapped in grief he impulsively decides not to attend Lisa’s funeral, hops on a plane and checks into a hotel in Winnepeg, Canada. There he meets a strange, and strangely horrible, woman who claims to be God. And he sorta’ believes her.
Aby lives under water. She’s green, has gills, and belongs to an amphibious species closely related to humans. She can breath both on land and underwater, but as a devout Aquatic she has never left the ocean. Until now. Her mother chose an “unwatered” life when Aby was a small child. But to die with air in your lungs is a sin in the Aquatic faith – and so Aby is breathing air, has stolen a white Honda Civic and is headed for Morris, Manitoba in order to save her mother from herself.
Stewart is Rebecca’s ex. He’s building a boat in the middle of the Canadian prairie. He doesn’t really know why. Neither do we.
All these individual journeys are interconnected, steadily moving towards one huge moment of redemption and clarity.
There is a quality to The Waterproof Bible that reminds me of fairy tales I read when I was younger. Like the stories in Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books, the plot is whimsical without being cloying. Entertaining while barely raising the reader’s heart rate (a talent Kaufman shares with the author Alexander McCall Smith). Add to the mix the fact that there is no overt lesson or “meaning” to bog things down, and you’re left with a book I believe most readers will quietly enjoy, then pass along to a friend.
Note: There is a catch, of course. There’s always a catch. If you’re in the U.S. and want a copy of The Waterproof Bible then you’ll have to work a bit harder for it. Telegram publishes the book in the UK and Random House has it in Canada. But, hard as I searched, I couldn’t find a publisher in the states. If someone knows of one that I missed, please let me know.
Publisher: Telegram, London (2010)
ISBN: 978 1 84659 086 3