Wednesday, February 4, 2009

My Inner HS Goth meets Neil Gaiman

I love the website goodreads.com.  If you haven't discovered it, please visit, set up an account, and add yourself to my friends list.

If you know me, you know that my tastes lean a bit toward the well. . .macabre.  It isn't because I have an image to maintain or because I'm depressed.  It's just part of me.  I joke that I have the heart of a HS goth girl.  Admittedly, I did have leanings in that direction during my high school years, but I was never hard core:  no red-blooded Goth would have ever welcomed me into her coven.  I did: wear a lot of black clothing, listen to alternative music, and hang out in the lower, darker levels of dance clubs for under-aged kids.  I occassionally though seldom: wore black cosmetics, powdered my face white, wore a black cloak (though I blush to admit it.)  I never: owned a Marilyn Manson CD, dyed my hair black, dated a guy who more black lipstick than I did, purposely cut myself,  or considered getting a vampire-bite tattoo.

I am joyous to say I grew out of that stage a long time ago.  I re-introduced color to my wardrobe when I left home for college.  I have since traded my Doc Martens for high-heeled boots.  My religion defines my character now much more than my music.  However, there is a part of me that can't totally give up on the macabre,  try as I might.

So what of my former HS bad Goth self remains?  I will always love Tim Burton movies.  I will never stop listening to Oingo Boingo or The Beautiful South (though, thankfully, my tastes have matured and  diversified.)  I will always love Edward Gorey books.  I think the Goth girl in me will always be attracted to Edward Cullen and Criss Angel (No, my husband is nothing like them. Yes, I find him attractive, too).  I really enjoy hanging out in old graveyards, the older the better.

This would be my segue for discussion of Neil Gaiman's  The Graveyard Book which I recently reviewed on Goodreads and which has high macabre appeal.  For those of you who are not (yet) my friend on Goodreads, here is my review:

I am so sad that I only recently discovered Neil Gaiman.  There is no doubt that between the release of the movie, "Coraline," and the recent bestowal of the Newberry on the novel The Graveyard Book, Gaiman is at the peak of his popularity.  It is only because of his recent acclaim that I have heard of Gaiman at all.  He is the sort of author I would love to be able to say, "Oh, I've been a huge fan for years.  I started reading his books before anyone else had even heard of him." Unfortuately, I have no right to that claim, but I am glad I found his books even if I had to wait this long.

The Graveyard Book is essentially and unabashedly a retelling of Kipling's A Jungle Book.  Bod, an ambitious infant, happens into a historical graveyard on the night he is orphaned.  Fortunately, he is taken in by the some of the graveyard's disembodied though kindly inhabitants.  There, he is protected, raised, and educated.  Ghosts, witches, and other "fearful" creatures are Bod's family and comrades. Needless to say, Bod grows up with an entirely different perception of dark and fear than most people.

The Graveyard Book is a coming of age story that is organized into seperate though intertwining vingettes; each self contained, but building toward the climax.

Gaiman has an infallible ear for language and dialogue.  He also pays homage to his literary predecessors.  Besides references to Kipling, there are elements of The Odyssey and The Hobbit. Even though this book is clearly in the fantasy genre, anyone with an appreciation for interesting characters, a good story, and good storytelling will enjoy The Graveyard Book.

If, like me, you have only recently heard of Gaiman, I highly recommend the following websites:


Where I made this flower:



 

And this picture of myself:




Might I also recommend Gaiman's official website:


If you are too much of a cheapskate to buy The Graveyard Book while it is still hardcover, you can listen to the ENTIRE novel read by Gaiman himself from the website listed above.  How's that for generous?  My inner high school Goth girl is purring contentedly.



11 comments:

CarpElgin said...

You mean Christopher jackson never introduced you two? Amazing. I've yet to read the Graveyard Book, although I gave it as a Christmas present. (and re-read every other book of his.)

I will also suggest the audio book of Coraline. Not only does he sound remarkably like Alan Rickman, but it includes music by the Gothic Archies -- whose soundtrack to the series of unfortunate events books can only be described as "goth for 6th graders."

Marie said...

CE,
I knew you of all people would understand me on this post. I'll have to have a word with Mr. Jackson! You two always tell me last. For example, I'm sure I was the last of you to discover Robertson Davies. Oh well, as stated, at least they did not go undiscovered.

Having a voice like Alan Rickman can only be a good thing. (Interesting, my sister made the same comparison.)

CarpElgin said...

My grandmother (via my mom who really didn't like him) who introduced me to Davies.) but I'll take this moment to add a few more.

One of Gaiman's first books, Good Omens, was written with Terry Pratchett, who is like the medeival/ victorian/ fantasy version of Douglas Adams. I avoided both Adams for years, thinking it was serious sci-fi. Also avoided Vonnegut, since my mom bunched in with books from her "sordid novel" class -- mostly modern lit like The Pearl and Sister Carrie -- and also mistaking Slaughterhouse 5 with The Jungle.

Jasper Fforde is perfect for anyone who finds Jane Eyre hillarious, and agrees that the characters in Wuthering Heights would benefit from some serious group therapy!

I now understan why Watchmen is considered one of the great books one the 20th century (not just a great graphic novel.) Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is worth the length and initially slow pace. The Amazing Adventures of Cavalier and Clay is good when you're wanting a Brooklyn guy book. Trollope & Dickens (who you must already know) are the Victorian lit version of a great tv series (which they were -- and must be why they make for excellent Masterpiece Theater material.)

I really need to read more female authors... but the good ones seem so serious.

laura said...

Sorry I didn't fill you in. I heard about Neil Gaiman forever ago when I was buying my childrens'book collection. There's a picture book by him called "The Wolves In The Walls" that I own and rather enjoy. I even went out and rented "Mirrormask" a couple of years ago. I think I'll love reading the "Graveyard Book" when I finally get around to it.

Marie said...

CE,

You have definitely covered yourself for the next year and a half, at least. Thank you for the suggestions. I am always pleased to find more good reading material. (I swear it saves my life sometimes.)

Kori said...

Oh man Marie. You have fully persuaded me to go out and buy The Graveyard Book. I read Coraline years ago in middle school but didn't think I was a fan of Neil Gaiman until I saw Stardust and subsequently read the novel. Anyway. I'm terribly excited for tomorrow and you MUST let me know what you think of Coraline once you see it. =)

Unrelatedly, have you listened to The Magnetic Fields?/Gothic Archies? I think your inner HS Goth would find them relevant to your interests, because I love them.

And I must say, you rock the button eyes quite well. Even though it does set off my koumpounophobia.

mim said...

I recommend listening to the online version of the graveyard book. Neil Gaiman is adorable as he reads it. My favorite parts were his calling for help in Nightgaunt and when he is speaking in Liza's voice. It's all good though. He is a talented reader as well as writer

I listened because Merced's sorry excuse for a bookstore didn't have it and now I think I have to buy it.

Marie said...

I wanted to post a general comment that as silly as my post is, one most definitely DOES NOT have to have Goth girl tendencies to enjoy Gaiman. Lest I sound as if I am underrating him, Gaiman's talent transcends any such stereo-typing.

Kori, I can't wait to read your review of it=). I hope you enjoy The Graveyard Book as much as I do.

Chris Jackson, if you are lurking about at all, I think it is high time you post a comment. This discussion is lacking without your distinguished response.

A said...

I know you would never guess by looking at my sunny blonde hair and happy smile but I have a dark side too. The slightly twisted comedy or novel always draws me in. I'll look for the book. I took my kids to see Coraline, which thank goodness had a edge that actually hooked me in. I usually don't enjoy kids movies and I thought it was great.

Persnickety Ticker said...

Are you sure we weren't seperated at birth?

It's spooky in a good way that you are totally describing me in this post.

Once again, in love and awe,
PT

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