Whilst working at the library, part of my job is to help write content for the library blog. I’ve not yet managed that, but now that I’m on borrowed time there (see this post) I feel like I need to make up for lost time, and in doing so have decided to start a new section of this blog. And I’ll tidy it up and send it to whoever it is on the council to put on the library site.
It seems fitting that I’m getting around to writing this as The Ocean at the End of the Lane has just been awarded the Book of the Year by the National Book Awards’ public vote.
Neil Gaiman is an author I originally happened upon by chance, through TV and film. About 9 years ago a friend gave me a chunky video box containing two tapes. It was a BBC TV production of Neverwhere. I’d never heard of it but it had an interesting premise when reading the blurb and a fair few recognisable actors in it. My friend said I could look after it permanently as he’d managed to find a DVD copy at great expense from America. But if I was ever thinking of getting rid of it, I was to hand it back to him. I’ve still got it somewhere.
Neverwhere is the story of Richard who, after a random act of kindness towards a strange girl, is drawn into the mysterious word of London Below. I loved it. Gaiman skilfully worked the ordinary elements of our world into an alternative world of misfits that had seemingly dropped through the cracks.
At this point I was studying for my degree and so reading for pleasure was put aside for a little while, although my friend Cathy suggested I should read some other Gaiman books – Stardust and Anansi Boys. I filed them away in my memory to read later and shamefully forgot about them.
Then film came to my rescue once again. Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughn had adapted another Stardust for the cinema. Two years later, Coraline was adapted as a stop motion animation. I revisited Neverwhere and decided I should get around to reading the books.
My first stop was the amazing ‘American Gods’, the tenth anniversary edition with 12,000 extra words as part of the authors preferred text. It took me a while but was worth it. I’m now on my third reading and I find something new in it each time. I can’t really explain what genre it would fit into – it’s a fantasy, horror, mythological wandering, road trip, it’s everything in one and it deserves taking some time over.
Next I moved onto Anansi Boys, which shares one of its characters with American Gods – Anansi (Mr Nancy) and it details the relationship between is two sons.
I’m currently reading The Graveyard Book, about a boy raised in a graveyard by ghosts after his family is murdered, and Smoke and Mirrors, a collection of short stories. The Ocean at the End of the Lane is patiently waiting to be read and will probably have to wait a couple of months until I can read it whilst sitting by an ocean.
I’ve yet to even look fully into his Sandman series of graphic novels, and for some reason I missed his Good Omens with Terry Pratchett, despite having read nearly everything else Pratchett has written.
Even if you aren’t usually a reader of fantasy, horror, mystery or anything that isn’t crime, romance or ‘chic-lit’, I would really recommend giving Gaiman’s books a go. His stories are intricately woven, masterfully executed, leaving you feeling that you really know the characters, but still want to know more. American Gods as a starter was perfect for me, but if you want something shorter (and lighter to hold in bed), try starting with Anansi Boys, Stardust or Neverwhere.
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