Flushed with the success of and inspiration received from my recent reading of Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman I recklessly took to Amazon You Know Where and promptly ordered a lorry load of his books. I had some funds in my Amazon account for which I thank you. I regularly let you know that if you click on any of the book links on the sidebar and then purchase anything at all from You Know Where I get a miniscule commission. So miniscule that it takes a while to accumulate into a meaningful amount which You Know Where eventually send to me as a gift token for me to spend on more books to write about here. And for which I am forever grateful but tell you this only in the interests of transparency, not to make you all go and do all your shopping there.
Anyway, the books have been arriving and I am now feeling a bit completist and obsessive about Neil Gaiman...
Not pictured because it was In Progress at the time is Neverwhere, a book which brings new meaning to the London Underground, not only in the names of the stations but in the life that goes on beneath London's streets. I say 'goes on' because quite honestly once I had read Neverwhere I was in no fit to state to argue that it didn't / wouldn't / couldn't happen, and the next time I am in London and heading for Earl's Court I am certainly going to be on the look out for the palatial carriage kitted out like a medieval court.
And as for The Angel Islington...well think wings and luminescent grey eyes 'as old as the universe, eyes that had seen galaxies congeal from stardust ten million, million years ago...' and don't trust 'it' an inch.
Described as a city of 'monsters and saints, murderers and angels. knight in armour and pale girls in black velvet,' Richard Mayhew finds himself plunged between the cracks and into the London underworld and the people that lie beneath, all this after the heroic rescue of a damsel in distress.
I'm hoping you don't want or expect me to describe much more about what happens, or to explain or analyse the deeper meanings of Neverwhere because I don't think I can beyond its enlightenment about the lost and disenfranchised people of our age. Two weeks on and it is etched in my mind as a bizarre roller-coaster of a literary encounter all thanks to a willing suspension of disbelief much-aided by Neil Gaiman's splendid imagination. He took me along for the ride and I quickly shifted from cynical onlooker to willing participant (by about page two actually) and all I could say was 'this is a brilliant book,' like a broken record, every time I opened or closed it and one of those books I was always itching to get back to.
Visually Neil Gaiman pierces the imagination to the extent that if I was an artist I would absolutely want to draw what I was reading (and I am sure gazillions have) though I am not an artist so had to be satisfied with my own mental interpretation of the Floating Market that takes place in Harrods store overnight, the place restored to its former pristine glory by daybreak..
'Stalls had been set up all through the shop, next to or even on, counters that, during the day, had sold perfume, or watches, or amber, or silk scarves. Richard listened to the market cries...
'Lovely fresh dreams. First class nightmares. We got 'em. Get yer lovely nightmares here.'
'Rubbish...Garbage! Trash! Offal! Debris! Come and get it! Nothing whole or undamaged! Crap, tripe and useless piles of shit. You know you want it.'
Neverwhere's first incarnation was as a BBC TV series, the novel emerging from the screenplay once Neil Gaiman realised that what he saw in his head just couldn't translate onto the screen. I feel a bit sorry for him in this respect because, having read the book, I can see the problem clearly. In fact I suspect every single person who reads this book will emerge with their own personal fantastical imagery so for the author that lack must have been purgatory.
Thus my foray into fantasy gathers momentum and I am experiencing it much as Neil Gaiman suggests...
'...the mirror of fantasy, which can sometimes show us things we have seen so many times that we never saw them at all, for the very first time.'
I'm sure I have read recently that a Neverwhere sequel is in the offing but meanwhile I have, on the strength of comments from some of you a while back, plunged headlong into American Gods.
And yes, the wheels may come off this reading trail eventually but for now the books are dipping me into a new world with new eyes..oh my word, what an exciting voyage of discovery this all is.
Gather round again Gaiman fans and please do share your thoughts...
Anyone else tempted to try yet...