[Old blog rerun] Gaiman vs. Gaiman vs. Gaiman (reviews)

I found a way to recover part of my old blog content, so I decided to rerun some posts from that, mainly reviews of books I liked. The following post was supposed to appear when my old blog suddenly crashed at the beginning of 2010. I publish it today as a special Christmas gift for my husband, who has been asking for it now and again throughout this year. (All tagging is new, and I’m afraid I don’t have any means of saving the old blog comments. I also updated the links.) MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL!

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In the past two months I have been on a Neil Gaiman-spell (my fiancé was so kind as to offer me Gaiman books all in a row… what could I do but read them? Ahem, well, OK…). Three Gaiman books in a short while, so I’ll share some thoughts on them here.

My story of reading Gaiman started with Neverwhere, which I loved immensely; after that I went through Stardust (childish), American Gods (too dark, and I’m not sure I got it…) and Marvel 1602 (quite good, considering I”m not used to comics/graphic novels). So now.

The book: Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

The edition: HarperTorch paperback, 387 pages.

The cover blurb: “God is dead. Meet the children.”

My thoughts: That cover blurb is the main reason why I expected this book to be a frightening, end-of-the-world type of book. It wasn’t. It was just, purely, funny. As in laugh-out-loud funny, hold-your-belly funny, even get-people-glaring-at-you-for-laughing-on-your-own-on-trains funny. And I won’t tell you anything more about it, not to spoil it.

Following that, I was in a real Neil-Gaiman-is-good-Neil-Gaiman-is-great frame of mind. Then I read the next one.

The book: Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, Good Omens

The edition: Corgi Books paperback, 415 pages

The cover blurb: “According to the Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter — the world’s only totally reliable guide to the future — the world will end on a Saturday.
Next Saturday, in fact. Just after tea…”

My thoughts: what would you expect from such a blurb? And after Anansi Boys? I expected a book in perfect Douglas Adams style. It wasn’t. It was one of the most absurd books I ever read. And a dark and unnerving one, too. Still very good, though!

The last book I read, I approached with contrasting feelings, because I am not too keen on short story collections.

The book: Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things

The edition: Headline paperback, 440 pages

The cover blurb: “Let me tell you a story.
No, wait, one’s not enough. I’ll begin again…
Let me tell you stories of the months of the year, of ghosts and heartbreak, of read and desire.”

My thoughts: as in every short story collections, there’s good and there’s bad stories in here. There are hidden treasures, stories that are as perfect as jewels. There are a few that could just as easily be worked up into a proper novel. There are good ideas that could do with better execution. There are stories that are examples of technique but without heart. There are awful things, too. But I’m happy to have read this book.

And in all of these books, there is Gaiman’s use of language. And that is a treat, no matter what. (I won’t ever try my hand at translating anything like that.)

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