Damn it Neil Gaiman, you have ruined me!
Every time I pick up (or sometimes listen) to one of you books you suck me in and keep me held under till I stop struggling. My family’s conversations can’t hold my attention, the TV remains off, my wife puts on sexy lingerie and I must give serious consideration whether I want to put my full attention on her or just get in one more chapter. I blame you Neil Gaiman and your amazing books!
In my youth I was obsessed with Terry Prattchet. I loved the Discworld novels and would read anything I could get my hands on and so it transpired one day I picked up a strange black book called “Good Omens”.
For the longest time I didn’t know who this other author on the cover was but I did LOVE this book. There was just something inherently funny about Heaven and Hell screwing up the one thing they had been building up to since creation. The wide variety of interesting and thought provoking characters with a wicked sense of humour secured it as a book I will keep till the day I die. I didn’t know it at the time but a seed had just been planted and it took 20 years for it to blossom; but once it had, it grew like vines around me.
Fast forward to 2015 and I was looking for a new series to get into. I was watching Lindsay Ellis’s youtube video on a character essay about Death (it’s not as morbid as it sounds) and she mentioned the interpretation of Death in this series Sandman. I’d heard the name before but never done any research as to what it was all about. Lindsay’s essay intrigued me so after a quick Google search I discovered it was a comic series written by this author Neil Gaiman. I decided to check it out so I contacted my local library and asked if they could get in a copy. They did and before I knew it I had read through the entire first book within a few days.
One of the advantages of reading a series that came out in the 90’s is that I don’t have to wonder when the next issue is coming out. They were all there, all waiting for me. Within two months I had read every issue of Sandman and hungered for more.
And Neil, if you ever happen to read this blog, know that part of me is REALLY annoyed you left so many unanswered questions. Who hired Puck and Loki? What happened after the New Death took over? WHY WOULD YOU LEAVE ME LIKE THIS?!
So after Sandman I took a break from Neil, there were other authors to read and life in general took over. In mid 2016 I kept hearing on my Tumblr all about “American Gods” and after the 25th post about it I decided to check it out myself.
It was enjoyable…but not my favourite! Sure everything was extremely well written and I loved the premise, but I could never get behind how easily the main protagonist Shadow just seemed to accept all these gods and mythical beings and things that happened to him. It always took me out of the story because even if you got use to it, if a dead body starts talking to you one would expect a little shock, even if it’s just momentary. The TV adaption looks AMAZING though and will probably suit me better just based on the trailer.
Anyway, I started doing a lot more driving for work so I decided to pick up an audio book as Australian radio is very repetitive. After going through the shelves I picked up the only Neil Gaiman audio they had which was title “The Ultimate Neil Gaiman Audio Collection”.
Wholly molly. This was fantastic. It was a collection of short stories and poems including Odd and the Frost Giants, Coraline and The Graveyard Book.
When I saw that Coraline was one of Neil’s works I initially was going to skip it. I did not really enjoy the film adaptation and figured it would just be the same story. NOPE! It was 150% better. The characters made more sense, the story was more engaging, and the conflict and resolution was more satisfying. After listening to it I decided I would have to give the book Stardust a go even though I didn’t really like the film at all (more of that in a second).
While on the topic of audio books, can we all just agree that Neil Gaiman could read the telephone directory and we would still listen intently and hang off his every word! The man is a born performer and narrator. I enjoyed him on The Simpsons and I enjoyed him even more listening to hours and hours of his stories. His children must have been so lucky to grow up with that.
The Graveyard Book is probably my favourite in that audio collection. It is the kind of book that you give to a 10 year old to get them into fantasy and horror without giving them nightmares. I feel there is a deeper story, like that of Sandman, that extends beyond the pages and I am sure any number of fanfics will tell me more about Silas, the Honour Guard, the Jacks, and even what could of happened after the final chapter.
Afterwards I picked up an audio version (narrated of course by the man himself) of Stardust and once again (if you will excuse my language) the book pissed all over the screenplay. The idea of Yvaine being a strong powerful women rather than a lovesick token to be won elevated the book to new heights. The fact the villages knew exactly what was beyond the wall made much more sense than an old man guarding and suddenly having martial arts ability for no reason. And it especially made me happy that the princes of Stormhold had an honour even when they were trying to kill each other. But what I love the most is unlike the movie which gave you the Disney “Happily Ever After”, the book gave you a positive if not slightly melancholy ending which would be closer to real life.
So now here I am, in 2017, needing to go back to my library and select which work I want to read (or listen to) next. How am I meant to get any work done when I have a copy of Neverwhere looking beseechingly at me, asking, BEGGING me to pick it up and read just one chapter?
This is all your fault Neil Gaiman…and I thank you for it!
You can find Neil Gaiman on his website, Twitter and Tumblr. Let us know in the comments what is your favorite Neil Gaiman book and why