Tuesday, February 24, 2009

the storyteller

Neil Gaiman is a tricky one for me. I love his stories and ideas, but I'm not an actual fan of his prose...in fact I was only able to finish reading Coraline after I saw and enjoyed the movie. His comic work, for the most part, is where he excels (I thought Eternals was disjointed, but I'm sure part of that was reading it in monthly installments that were anything but monthly). He tells great stories, but his prose is just ... difficult. To me.

After seeing/reading Coraline, rewatching Stardust, and reading that Neil Jordan was going to adapt his latest novel The Graveyard Book as a feature film, I was sort of jonesing to give him another try. The fact that Graveyard won the Newberry award helped.

I ordered it on Amazon, it arrived promptly, and after reading 15 pages last night, I started to ajust to his writing. It was almost like letting your eyes adjust to a darkened room, I got used to it, and started to love it, and read a bit more.

I'm not going to recommend you go out and buy the book now, but if you, like me, had Gaiman-prose phobia, know that this is a mountain you can tackle.

Also, been working a lot yadda, yadda, yadda. No complaints. Little Matilda fully adjusted.


Viewtiful_Justin said...

Thanks for the pseudo-recommendation! This guy is EVERYWHERE right now. It's really kind of odd to see his name in so many places and realize just how prolific he's been in the last little while.

If only I could tap into that somehow...

Peter said...

Gaiman practices a tricky craft, writing dark stories for teens, and yet I'm with you: I tend to prefer the ideas to the prose itself. He creates such elaborate worlds, filled with great characters and these incredible, yet intuitive concepts (as if they've been lying dormant in your imagination all these years, just waiting for him to come along and unlock them).

Coraline works for me. The Graveyard Book not so much. Perhaps it's because the latter is more ambitious, and Gaiman's big weakness seems to be structure. If you look at all these creatures and intricate backstories as set-ups of some sort, some seem to pay off too soon (no sooner does Bod question why he must learn "night-gaunt" than he's using it to save his life) while others never quite pan out (the story's resolution never lives up to that creepy opening scene in which the Man Jack kills Bod's family).

It gives the storytelling a strange, lurching pace and leaves other elements unresolved. That said, I love the characters in The Graveyard Book, especially Silas, and reading Gaiman's work, you can see why he felt Henry Selick was the right director to adapt Coraline. I wonder what Selick could do with The Graveyard Book (I kept envisioning a world not so different from Nightmare Before Christmas while reading it).

kyle-cummings said...

I too sort of wish selick was doing GRAVEYARD, its impossible not to imagine NIGHTMARE's garden of tombstones and not think of it populated with preposterously exaggerated ghosts. It will be interesting to see what Jordan does with it -- if its more INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE direct, or a more absurdist approach like the art directed to death (in a good way) SLEEPY HOLLOW.