Neil Gaiman

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Neil Gaiman

Postby Guest » August 13th, 2005, 3:08 am

On another thread (ghe one about good magic books to read), Jonathan Townshend wrote briefly about Neil Gaiman:

Originally posted by Jonathan Townsend:
...Perhaps Neil Gaiman's four part Books of Magic and Sandman would make a good start. ...
I mean no offence, and I'm not trying to start a flame war, but I must ask you, Jonathan: Are you out of your *ing mind?!!!!!! Neil Gaiman?!!!!!

I spent a couple months last year reading American Gods, and I must confess that it was a total waste of my precious time.

Freinds kept egging me on, sayihng, "Oh keep reading, hes great," and I kept reading, thinking it would get better. But it never ever got better.

Oh maybe ten pages out of 800 were interesting, like when he was tied to the tree for days like Christ, that may have been interesting. And then when he died and went to the River Styx, that was kinda unique.

But ten good pages does not a good book make, no way. No sense of story, no forward movement, whole chapters that have no significance to either story or character, just some guy from the comic book world who has a readymade audience, and who has a license and obsession with hearing his own voice.

Sometimes, I keep reading something to fully and completely dismiss an author. Did that with Norman Mailer years ago, although it took three books to do that. Did the same thing with Neil Gaiman.

There, I got that off my chest! :p

Chris Aguilar
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Re: Neil Gaiman

Postby Chris Aguilar » August 13th, 2005, 5:04 am

I quite like Gaiman's Sandman graphic novels and would recommend them.

Haven't read his straight prose stuff, so I have no opinion of that.

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Charlie Chang
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Re: Neil Gaiman

Postby Charlie Chang » August 13th, 2005, 9:02 am

hoo monkey,

It's been a while since I've read it, but I know that I enjoyed the novel American Gods.

To each his own, I guess.

P.S. Not a Neil Gaiman fans by any means. Never read any of his previous work(s).

Ian Kendall
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Re: Neil Gaiman

Postby Ian Kendall » August 13th, 2005, 12:37 pm

One quote from Sandman that stuck with me for many years is when his sister Death is taking a baby from a crib.

'Is that it? Is that all I get?' asks the baby.
'Yes, I'm afraid so' relpies death.

Wonderfully simple, but I can still remember it almost twenty years later.

He wrote a book with Terry Pratchett about Armageddon, but the title escapes me. Quite entertaining, though.

Take care, Ian

Jonathan Townsend
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Re: Neil Gaiman

Postby Jonathan Townsend » August 13th, 2005, 2:57 pm

Originally posted by hoo monkey:
...I mean no offence, and I'm not trying to start a flame war, but I must ask you, Jonathan: Are you out of your *ing mind?!!!!!! Neil Gaiman?!!!!!
Certainly there is no disputing taste, and I respect that you did not like what you've read.

The graphic novels I cited are explicitly about a young man's introduction to the worlds of magic, and the Greek god of dream's adventures and ultimate reconstitution. My feeling remains that some exposure to well constructed and rich magical worlds in literature may indicate a path on which to find one's own magical discoveries.
Mundus vult decipi -per Caleb Carr's story Killing Time

Erik Hemming
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Re: Neil Gaiman

Postby Erik Hemming » August 14th, 2005, 12:59 pm

hoo monkey-

I'm going to chime in quick--not in defense of Mr. Townsend, because he is his own best defense--but because I am a bone fide Gaiman fan.

I agree with Johnathan. The Books of Magic is one of the most richly imagined story-arcs about magic in English.

I've read most of Gaiman's work and have had the opportunity to interact with him and watch him with his audience on a number of occassions. He is a gracious, charming human being, a great reader, and a great writer.

Your negative comparison with Norman Mailer--with which I sympathize--is apt. Mailer likes Gaiman. Says Gaiman writes "comic books for intellectuals."

Plus, the man has at least a passing interest in our art. He knows his Bobo.

But what I appreciate most about Gaiman is his interesting, synthetic approach to story.

It tickles me when I find bits and pieces of tales that delighted me in my youth re-imagined in new, complex, unexpected ways. Gaiman seems to have an encyclopedic control of all manner of tales--classical myth, folklore, pulp fiction, and comic books--and incorporates both the broad and fine points in his re-weavings to make his stories rewarding on a number of levels.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but he's brilliant at reworking old, tattered, classic material and making something entirely new out of it. This is worthy of study, in itself....

He has published one of the best series of stories/graphic novels to hit print in English (Sandman ), numerous award-winning short-stories, successful kids books (Coraline/Wolves in the Walls), did the English dialouge for Miyazake's Princess Mononoke, and scripted a forthcoming film with David McKean.

American Gods was a publisher's attempt to "break out" Gaiman in the American market. It is the most ponderous of anything he's written. If you like a thoughtful, playful take on being a God in America and a quick theoretical treatise on waxing and waning deities, it is also a great read. Whether you like it depends on your tastes and expectations. It's fantasy several cuts above the norm. For those of us who follow his career with pleasure, it was a blessedly huge chunk. (He normally writes much shorter bits.) For others, it was simply a huge chunk....

His next book Anansi Boys will likely please or distress his audience to the same degree American Gods did. It's a continuation of the same playful exploration of godhood (and family) in the early 21st century.

I loved it. It will be out September 14.

So, if you didn't like the LONG version of Gaiman, hoo monkey, try the short one. Jonathan's suggestion of The Books of Magic or the stand-alone book from the Sandman series "Ramadan" or his short story "A Murder Mystery." All of them are short, beautiful...and magical.


BTW, Ian, it's Good Omens . A great book, too.


Re: Neil Gaiman

Postby Guest » August 14th, 2005, 2:28 pm

Oh God, thats just how i got roped into reading three Mailer books--...I read Armies of the Night and didnt like it, and then somebody told me to read The Naked and the Dead you'll like it, and I didnt and was out another month. Then somebody said oh, you got to read Executioner's Song, its great, and the media allsaid the same thing. I read that 800-page tome, and it had the same defects. That was it for Maailer. But I had wasted a few months of my spare time to depose him....

I did not care at all for Shadow, the ex-convict who was at the heart of American Gods, esp because I didnt really even know what motivated him, and why he stayed traveling with Wednesday, that jerkoff god he was travelingwith. Why didn't he just levave the guy? I was thinking that on page 100, but it went on for, what, 588 pages...

Motivation is at the heart of good writing, and if the reader doesnt know what hthe main character wants, there's no reason to keep reading. Every so often, you hear, oh, a storm's coming, well, what kin of storm, and what does that mean? Its not enough to keep you reading unless you bore your way thru it.

But in addition to that, I have an aversion to having something disgusting on every other page. Im tipping my particular tastes, but I didnt lik Laura killing the guard while he was j*ing off (gratituous disgusting) or Horus, the guy who "eats roadkill" (ditto), or the time that Shadow is llistehing in on a conversation while two 12-year-olds (!!)are talking about sex, including some flavors that used to be illegal across most of the country, in explicit detail, and you get treated to this little extra: "One of them knew almost nothinga bout sex, but knew a lot about animals, helped out or spent a lot of time at some kind of animal shlter..." Please.

And btw, it's not that Gaiman knows a lot about Bobo, its that Jami Ian Swiss was a consultant to the book....

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