Neverwhere, Neil Gaiman

A week or two ago, I was talking with my neighbor and she mentioned that she had finally gotten around to starting one of Neil Gaiman’s books. Which one, I demanded to know. She thought about it for a minute and then replied, the one with the door. Ahh, Neverwhere. The second book of his I ever read. I immediately besieged her with questions about how she was enjoying it, and offered recommendations for her next selection, and when her sons demanded our attentions again, and she seemed quite grateful to be out of my Gaiman-obsessed firing range.

I don’t blame her. I suspect it’s the same feeling my mother got last week when we went to the second run theatre to watch The Rise of the Guardians for three dollars apiece, and I kept leaning over to confirm that I thought for sure the Boogie Man was drawn from a photograph of Gaiman. Look at the hair, I whispered. And the terrifying, yet strangely mesmerizing grin. It’s as though he has a story – one I would probably follow him into frightening territory to hear. I could practically hear her eyes rolling, so I’m quite glad I didn’t mention how I silently squealed over the movie having a character called The Sandman…

So yes, I admit it. I can be a bit overwhelming when it comes to all things Gaiman. And I have no problem rereading his novels over and over again. When I pulled this one off the shelf, I also remembered that it’s just two more weeks until what promises to be an incredible radio adaptation premieres (cast list and details here), and I got all amped up again. There might have been fist pumping…

When I searched for that link, I also came across an interesting detail about the book which I had never known; the novel was actually a companion piece for the television series created by Gaiman and Lenny Henry in 1996. The plots are the same, but the novel is a much richer expression of the story, in my opinion at least. I’ve seen the series two or three times though, so obviously, I don’t hate it – I just prefer the book. I am looking forward to seeing it transformed, yet again, into a new format with a cast of brilliant British actors (I’m actually nervous about just how good – and by “good,” I mean “terrifying” – the cast is said to be). It fits into what is becoming something of a theme for me this year – the translation of fiction.

I haven’t been intentionally seeking out these projects, but sometimes, even when we aren’t looking for a thing, it manages to find us anyway because, well, we need it to – it is simply time for us to find it, or for it to find us so that we can face it or deal with it or vanquish it. This is one of the major ideas at play in Neverwhere, and I believe it’s true for us as readers and creators (and humans) as well. Right now, I’m working on a project that ties in classic texts with modern sensibilities, and even though I haven’t intended to explore other people’s expressions of this idea, it seems to happen anyway. All of a sudden, everywhere I turn, it’s all I can see. Neverwhere is a book I’ve loved for over a decade for its lovely story, compelling villains, and fumbling (yet completely lovable) hero, and inexplicably now, when I come to review it, I can’t help but see what a grand life it has outside of its spine. It gives me a new kind of chills…

 

For more about Neil Gaiman, go here (you can join me in obsessing over his new book, due out in a few months), to twitter, or tumblr.