Friday, December 31, 2010

Tiptoe through the tombstones with Bod

Action First:  I'll drive over to Bayview Cemetary in a few minutes and take a stroll in honor of Neil Gaiman and his Graveyard Book.  He and Bod and Silas and Scarlett and Liza and the Owenses make the graveyard seem so inviting that I simply must make a pilgrimage.  I'll bring my journal to wander and write, Gaiman-wise - long-hand first - then come home and adjust as I type.  Yes, that feels like the thing to do.  Makes me nostalgic for the ole Grove in New Haven where as "intermediate" students at Ridge Hill Elementary we regularly took field trips to do grave rubbings.  (Hmm. Upon reflection, I suppose children's fascination with cemetaries wasn't lost on our teachers after all.)  Ta for now.  Back once I've communed with the tombs...

Ah.  That was refreshing.  (Slightly snow-covered stones, crispish day, fresh air stroll, crunchy graveyard gravel beneath my Converse, pacific bay views)

The Review:
'The Critically-Acclaimed and Award-Winning Author' Neil Gaiman spent 20 years considering and then creating this book, and lucky for kids he did.  It's Roald Dahl meets Coraline meets Kipling, and just the sort of dark adventure that the young thirst for so often.  Coming of age story?  Yes.  Series of linked short fictions?  Yes.  Paranormal adventure/fantasy novel?  Yes.  Period(s) piece?  Sorta.

And while reading TGB I felt vaguely deja vu-ish in a literary way, as it sports so many "Gaimanish" devices recalled from my recent reading of Good Omens,yet polished up in a much more sophisticated manner, to my mind.  Time + practice improves craft.  Whoda thunk? 

Familiar stand-bys from the mind of Mr. Gaiman:  The witch at the dunking stool: Pepper's little sister in GO, & then Liza here as well.  The otherworldly guardians of the good:  Aziraphale & Silas.  Otherworldly evils: The archdukes of hell, Hastur & Ligur, & the Jacks & the ghouls.  Comparatively long, involved penultimate chapter: "Saturday" & "Everyman Jack".  Scarlett (War) & Scarlett (Girl).  One could continue, but one won't.

Decided differences between GO & TGB:  This one - although funny in places and amusing on a regular basis - is less a heady laughfest-of-ideas and more a serious childrens' book with lighter moments.  And plotwise, the "Everyman Jack" chapter brings TGB to a thrillingly taught climax where "Saturday" meandered.

Worth reading, story by story, and as a whole?  I say, yes.  Worth reading by the kid in your life?  Absolutely.

Inspired "Bonus Action":  This book fired me up to go out and write/draw a young person's story of my own.  It's been years since I've waxed so inspired to write a fiction.  So, whatever the reading experience, that makes this an super-fine book to me.  Iphy, here I come!  And I just watched an (as always) fascinating Charlie Rose interview w/Salman Rushdie about his new (children's) book, Luka and the Fire of Life:  doubly inspired now to write a new tale of a child (let's try a female for a change, eh, gents?) saving a parent...

The Summary.(via Gaiman's home page - and he's uber-involved in social media - blog's right there, links, etc. mousecircus link is for his children's books)

The clip.  In this case, a significant bit of it, via the Harper Collins home...

MFB in a graveyard,

Also worth checking out:  Colbert & Gaiman. Clever vs. Clever.

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