In The Waterproof Bible (Random House), Andrew Kaufman creates a series of quirky characters each in need of personal transformation. Rebecca’s strong emotions affect everyone around her so she has found a way to trap and bottle them, but she is in danger of becoming an automaton. Her journey is triggered by a near-miss car accident with Aberystwyth, who looks like a green person with gills. Aby has stolen a car and is making a long-distance road trip to save the soul of the mother who abandoned her.
Like Kaufman’s first novel, All My Friends Are Superheroes, this book is rife with elements of the fantastical, legendary and absurd not often seen in Canadian fiction. Most entertaining is his description of the Hlidafgod, humanoids who have lived underwater for centuries, with a complex and technologically advanced civilization below the sea.
The Waterproof Bible is succinct, with not a chapter or word wasted. This brevity is to be applauded, but most of the characters’ stories feel clipped; they were worthy of a little more time and attention.