The Book List: Neil Gaiman Edition

I had already read at least three of Neil Gaiman’s books, and skimmed a few of his graphic novels, when I arrived in Los Angeles in 2010. Unemployed and feeling extremely lost, I took refuge in my sister and brother-in-law’s book collection. Luckily for me, they have quite a few of Gaiman’s books, and I delved in, finally reading several more. Here are the ones that have stuck with me:

 

The Graveyard Book

In this fantastical adaptation of Kipling’s The Jungle Book, ghosts take up the roles of the animals raising young Nobody inside the wilderness of a large and sprawling graveyard.

I was fortunate enough whilst growing up to live mere blocks from a large and sprawling graveyard myself, and I spent the entire book picturing it, in a larger, dreamlike expansiveness. This book earns only 4 out of 5 stars due to some potentially awe-inspiring heroics that were only briefly mentioned – action that happened ‘off camera’ which I would absolutely have loved to read in full. There could have been more explanation of why the events of the story got started, but it works ok even without such detail. All around a great concept with decent execution.

 

Neverwhere

Much like my favourite ever novel, Un Lun Dun by China Mieville, Neverwhere takes place halfway into each the Real London and an alternative world, in this case London Below. I am discovering a great theme of these alternate ‘ab-cities’ in my favourite books and stories.

Neverwhere follows Richard Mayhew, an ordinary man, as he loses every speck of a recognizable life and descends into this underworld, gaining much more than he could have expected from the strange events and places in which he finds himself.

One of my biggest regrets in leaving LA, or at least in not amassing a great enough fortune to visit regularly, is not being there to attend the west coast premiere of the stage production of Neverwhere at Sacred Fools Theatre, featuring my friend Michael Holmes in his dream role as Richard Mayhew. I recommend highly that you read here to learn a bit more about Michael’s experiences during production.

The more I read about the production, the more I wanted to reread the book. It’s in a long queue mixed with books I have yet to peek into.

 

Stardust

My sister bought me a copy of this novel back in 2002 when we met in New York City to attend Susan Jaffe’s final performance (Giselle) with American Ballet Theatre. We arrived on different trains, but met up in the station, stopping briefly at a bookshop underground. She told me I would love the book, finding it much like a fairy tale, which has always been a favourite genre of mine. I somehow never got around to reading it and ended up misplacing that copy. Five years later, a movie adaptation was released, and I swore I would finally read the book, a new copy of which I purchased at the same little bookshop in which I first discovered Un Lun Dun, before watching the film.

I finished the book while house-sitting for friends who blessedly had a copy of the movie and a projector and screen. Fifteen minutes after I turned the final page I started watching. The book goes into much more detail than the movie does when it comes to the breadth of difference between the ordinary and the magical world, but the movie shows much more depth in each character. Both have become favourites. In fact, we watched the film version of Stardust at my bachelorette party.

I suppose you might want to know what the story, whichever version, is about!

Ordinary seeming Tristran Thorn finds there is much more to his past than he ever imagined and embarks on a fantastic adventure to prove his love for the beautiful Victoria Forester by bringing her home a fallen star. Along the way, he meets bizarre characters who prove just how extraordinary the world of Faerie is compared to Tristran’s home town of Wall, and Tristran finds that he is capable of much more than he ever dreamed.

An excellent adventure with greater moments than I can tell you here.

 

Until next time, Go read, yo!

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