The Waterproof Bible: A beautifully quirky look at religion and isolation

Just like London buses you wait a lifetime and there are none, then suddenly two arrive at the same time! Not that I would be presumptuous enough to think that people might be waiting for these reviews, if indeed they can be called that. So as much as having a chest infection over a Bank Holiday weekend is miserable, especially when it involves cancelling a trip to the seaside however the silver lining to the dark clouds hanging over the weekend has been the amount of reading I’ve been able to do. So for once in my life I actually finished the book club choice of book with a day to spare.

The Waterproof Bible is Andrew Kaufman’s second novel, the first being something of a cult classic: All my friends are superheroes. The Waterproof Bible is a beautifully quirky piece of work which deals with many topics but the two main ones being that of religion and isolation. It has been described as Kaufman’s search for religion; however the element I’m going to focus on is that of isolation, or more particularly the character Rebecca who is incapable of keeping her feelings from those around her. In order the survive in the modern world Rebecca has worked out a system to keep her feelings hidden from those around her, she traps her emotions and feelings in objects and then locks them away in a Self-Storage Unit. In the harsh town of London where it’s often very hard not to have one’s feelings or emotions trampled on or disrespected I find people in this town, me included, tend to hide their true emotions for fear of leaving themselves too vulnerable. I still find it ridiculously refreshing when I meet someone that is open with their thoughts and feelings, there’s no game plan and barriers that have been constructed for protection, the rare few that don’t hide behind a mask or costume are so exotic. Most of us have Facebook and through this electronic means complete control over the face we choose to show the world and the side of ourselves that we share with those that are interested. But do we need these masks and costumes to survive in today’s modern world? Do we need to keep our thoughts, feelings and emotions hidden like Rebecca so we don’t cause offence, upset or just chaos? Isn’t this all part of having a British stiff upper lip? Being able to hide one’s true feelings? Maybe this is why I’ve always been drawn to the more fiery Latin cultures that are a lot less prudent when it comes to their emotions.

Without wanting to give the end of the novel away Rebecca does make peace with her total lack of ability to hide her feelings from those around her, and I too feel inspired to go forth and try to be a little more open with my own, maybe there’s a certain strength to be gained from this and not a vulnerability.

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