Monday, November 17, 2008

Seeing Everyone

Feels like I’ve been everywhere and seen everyone this weekend. After a boozy night in the pub last Thursday I, accompanied by Madame Vin, the Aussie and a Canadian, travelled early to Nottingham where I met up with Sammy (all the way from New Zealand) and Tash and my ‘woman of the year’ (back from LA – and doing very well. Hopefully, if she’ll let me, I’ll post some exciting news from her here soon). Then it was over to the hospital to visit my last surviving grandparent (who thankfully, looked better than I hoped) and finally to the old home of Radcliffe-on-Trent to the retirement party of the Silver Fox.

The next day it was more family, including a new arrival, before stepping out with friends, friends, friends and admittedly drinking too much.

Sunday was home, rest and Sunday dinner.

At least I got a lot of reading done.

The Graveyard Book
I'm not afraid to say it - I love Mr. Gaiman. He has the most beautiful style of writing, summing up an emotion, a feeling or a character in a simply yet eloquent fashion. The Graveyard book is one of his novels for children that can be read by adults (think Coraline). Based loosely on the Jungle Book in its construction, the story deals with Nobody Owens and his life growing up in a graveyard high on a hill in an English town (it reads like Lincoln but this might just be the reader putting his own experiences on top of the narrative).
Starting off as a baby and escaping from a dark shadowy figure who has just murdered his family Bod is taken in by dead people, who view their deaths as just an interesting event on life's highway and see it as no reason why it should interrupt their living.
Each chapter is spaced several years apart with Bod growing and learning about life and being a human via the ghosts, spirits, ghouls and more mythical creatures that inhabit his living space. The first few chapters could be read as short stories while the last four allow Bod to work out where he came from and where he's going. Magical!

Death: The High Cost of Living
Another Gaiman. Set in his Sandman mythos, every century Death must become mortal for 24 hours so that she can find out about life. This story is slight and amusing with the Goth personification of Death spending her day in New York with a young man who begins by contemplating the taking of his own life and ends by understanding its worth and magic. The comic has been under review for several years as a possible movie and within Sandman is probably the only possible filmable story arc.

Little (Grrl) Lost
It is such a shame that Charles De Lint is not better known in the UK. His stories are magical and human and deep and mythical all at the same time. He has created a world (Newford) where anything can happen (and usually does) but it always makes sense and seems perfectly logically. Rarely do I see his books on the shelves of Waterstones or the larger book stores and have to rely on independent shops and US imports.
T.J. is a teenager suffering from the anxiety of having moved from the country to a strange city, leaving her friends and her horse behind. She is suffering from the mental growing pains all teenagers go through and feels hard done by. She meets Elizabeth, an older girl who is spunky and cool and forthright but has her own problems being only eight inches high.
Elizabeth is a Small and she lives behind the skirting board. This is 'The Borrowers' for the modern age, mixing in texting, broken families, email, punk and motorbikes and coming up with something that is uniquely De Lint.

I read three other books but they are all reviews so you’ll have to read Dark Horizon’s for my low down.

I was out Friday night but a clip from the new Doctor Who was shown on the Beeb as part of Children in Need. You can see it again here.

Read this week:

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
Death: The High Cost of Living by Neil Gaiman
Little (Grrl) Lost by Charles De Lint

No comments: