I was introduced to Neil Gaiman by way of the Sandman comics. I absolutely loved them, but didn’t get a chance to read them often because Barnes N’ Noble is far away and gas money is, well, money. But I loved them. So when my brother told me that he had written word novels as well as graphic novels, I just about pissed myself with excitement.
So, after that, I got started on The Graveyard Book. I fell in love again. He was the first author I had read a book by that actually wrote like someone would speak. I thought that was very comforting, and that the plot was just brilliant.
So I began recommending the Graveyard Book to anyone who would listen. And then since I liked that one, my brother gave me more.
He gave me American Gods. I liked this one too, but not as much as The Graveyard Book.
He gave me Ocean at the End of the Lane. I continue to rave about this one whenever someone needs a new book to read.
He gave me Good Omens, which I am still reading and may love the concept unto death, after which point I will love it all the more.
I would later learn that both Coraline and Stardust are his. I am not at all surprised by this currently. I wasn’t then either, but the point is that I’m still not surprised.
I’m terrible at conclusions, but the point is this – Neil Gaiman is pretty cool, and you should all read his books. He’s one of the most down-to-earth writers that I know. My favorite example of this is the raven scene inAmerican Gods that made the entire book that much better.
The bird turned, head tipped, suspiciously, on one side, and it stared at him with bright eyes.
“Say ‘Nevermore,’” said Shadow.
“F— you,” said the raven. [dashes added by me]
I like this one because a) it’s brilliant and unexpected and b) it’s exactly how I would respond if I were a raven… without the dashes, that is. It just takes too long to say “Eff dash dash dash you”.
Also, he’s a dark writer, but not utterly hopeless. Hopelessness is boring and well, hopeless. I like hope. I think perhaps the best term is not “dark” or even “bleak”, but “realistic”. He is very realistic.
Still, he makes the reader think. Simple, mindless gory plots are for boring people. (Well, maybe not boring, but they’re for people I don’t wouldn’t normally hang out with.) Ocean at the End of Lane is the best example. It is confusing, and I like it that way. Sandman is a bit similar to that, I guess.
Anyone who makes a reader both immersed and confused by the plot at the same time is a good writer in my mind. And he inspired my writing to be better than it ever could be before.
(I think that is how I will end this giant piece, mainly because it is midnight as I write this and I have finals to study for.)
Gabriel Penn, out.