2000; 264 pages. New Author? : No. Genre : Fiction; Humor. Overall Rating : 9*/10.
Icarus Smith calls himself a “relocator”. He keeps the cosmos balanced by relocating various objects. He’s just relocated a man’s briefcase. To his own place. Cormerant, the erstwhile owner of said briefcase, has a different word for Icarus. He calls him a thief.
Lazlo Woodbine calls himself the greatest Private Investigator ever. Cormerant wants him to find the briefcase, and will pay him handsomely to do so. Which is great until another client preempts Cormerant. It seems that God Himself has gone missing, and Mrs. God wants Lazlo to find him. Post haste.
And although Cormerant is not the sort to be trifled with, you really, really don’t want to piss off Mrs. God.
What’s To Like...
The title is a take-off of Samuel Beckett’s Waiting For Godot, but the link between the two books is rather tenuous. This can be either a plus or a minus depending on your opinion of Beckett’s masterpiece. I hated it in college; loved it after rereading it 30 years later.
If you’ve already read a couple Robert Rankin books, you’ll love Waiting For Godalming. To me, it felt somewhat more coherent than usual, and that’s a plus. Rankin’s recurring devices are in full force here – Fangio and his various bars, talking toot, Barry the Holy Guardian Sprout; and a million different variations on Lazlo’s last name and his Smith and Wesson. In addition, there are some crazy kewl footnotes sprinkled throughout the tale.
As usual, the various storylines are both hilarious and over-the-top. Cormerant is chasing Icarus; Lazlo is chasing God; and Icarus is chasing a magic drug that lets anyone see the world as it really is. The Wrong’uns will stop at nothing to prevent that last one from taking place.
The main storyline – Lazlo chasing God – doesn’t show up until about a quarter of the way through the book. Since it is touted in the bookcover blurb, for a while I thought I was reading the wrong book. As usual, Rankin gradually and deftly pulls the far-flung plot threads together, and this all leads to a satisfying ending that somehow manages to adhere to the Lazlo Woodbine criterion for a climactic location. Like all of Rankin’s works, this is a standalone novel.
Kewlest New Word. . .
Theophany (n.) : a visible manifestation to humankind of God or a god.
Others : Periwig (n.); Pouffe (n.); Oik (n.)
“OK. Fair enough, we’ll just have to do it the hard way. If you had a thing about Jewish virgins, where would you go to meet some?”
“Would you care to narrow that down a little?”
“Isl?” (pg. 92)
“We’re in some underground labyrinth here. The noise of an explosion will have those creatures coming running from miles.”
“No problem,” said the captain. “I’ll use a silent explosive.”
“A silent explosive?” Icarus made the face of grave doubt.
“Latest thing ,” said the captain, drawing out a stick of something dangerous-looking from his pocket. “The SAS use it all the time. It goes off without a sound. You’ve heard of gelignite and dynamite? Well, this stuff’s called-“
“Don’t tell me,” said Johnny Boy. “Silent nite.” (pg. 163)
“Living la vida loca in a gagga da vida.” (pg. 19)
If you’re new to Robert Rankin, you may find his books to feel somewhat disjointedly repetitive (is that an oxymoron?). His storytelling takes some getting used to, but all of his tales end coherently. I find his wit to be LOL funny, and once you get to know his recurring characters, reading his books is a lot less confusing.
Waiting For Godalming will not be to everyone’s taste. Then again, neither is Waiting For Godot. I happen to think they’re both fantastic.
9 Stars. This was my eighth Robert Rankin book, and I’ve enjoyed them all. If you’re in the mood for something wacky and witty, confusingly logical, and which doesn’t take itself serious, give him a taste.