In 2019, I read a novel written by two authors, one British and one American. One of thes authors of this book called Good Omens is Terry Pratchett and the other is a Britash author -I’m ashamed to say- I hadn’t heard of. I don’t remember ever reading a fantasy fiction book written by 2 people. I was very lucky to have the audiobook version and at the end they included an interview with Neil Gaiman. In this interview Mr. Gaiman tells how they met and how they worked on writing this book over the years by sending each other different chapters by mail. He doesn’t specify who wrote which parts and I remember being very curious about it.
Good Omens also has also been made into a TV show in 2019. It is one of the funniest books I’ve ever read/listened to. Multiple times I’ve found myself laughing out loud on public transport while I was listening to it. Also even the origin story of how Nei Gaiman came up with the story and contacted Terry Pratchett and they wrote this book over the years makes this book worth reading for me. When you come to think of it, 2 authors, one is young the other experienced and well known, they have this long distance relationship of some sort, writing and sharing, sending each other letters, mails, and making so many readings over the phone. Isn’t it fantastic. I don’t know if this book would be as fantastic if it wasn’t the baby of 2 fantastic brains.
The second audiobook I listened to by Neil Gaiman was American Gods. What surprised me was that, also American Gods had been made into a TV show in 2017. This book has one of the most exciting beginnings I have ever encountered. The main character is called Shadow and he reaches the end of his jail sentence and as soon as he’s out, finds out his wife whom he loves dearly has died. Right after this he sets on an incredible journey. Again this is a fantasy fiction book and there are a lot of characters and also a lot of traveling and you get to join in as well. American Gods makes you almost do a double shift mentally with all the visuality but it’s not boring because you invest in the story.
Having enjoyed American Gods a great deal, I checked which of Gaiman’s books is most well loved and I found out one of them is Neverwhere. I started immediately. Again I downloaded the audiobook. This time I was pleasantly surprised because the it was the writer himself who had voiced for the audiobook. Dear reader, I think that’s when I fell in love with him. Neverwhere is telling the story of a good hearted man named Richard Mayhew who lives in London. As you can imagine, the genre is still the same, fantasy fiction. Richard Mayhew pays the price of helping out a girl on the streets of London and falls inside the cracks of the city and finds himself in underground London which is completely different from the London he knows. He sets on an adventure with the girl he saves and others along the way. You become really invested in this rescue mission with them which takes place in a rather cruel world. You worry about them, you wonder if they will survive. When the book ends, you want the story to continue so bad. Good news is Gaiman is writing the sequel. In 2017, 20 years after the first book, he announced he’s working on it. Let’s hope he will finish it soon. By the way this book has a British miniseries.
After I finished Neverwhere, ı read another book by Neil Gaiman which didn’t affect me as much emotionally but was a fun read. It was called Anansi Boys. The main character Fat Charlie, at the beginning of the book, finds out his father has died and that out of nowhere learns that he has a brother. Then he loses his job and fiancee and he gets blamed for murder. Gaiman once again places us in a funny and chaotic world beyond our dreams. I have to admit Fat Charlie is not as endearing as Richard Mayhew but it’s still a fun and easy read.
Now, let’s talk about the book that I will definitely make my child read if I ever have one. The Graveyard Book again is an audiobook which was read by Neil Gaiman himself. It’s about a boy whose mom and dad are killed when he’s a toddler and when he crawls his way to the cemetery across the street he gets adopted by the spirits and the vampire who reside in the cemetery. This book was based on a story Gaiman made up for his daughters and started writing it as they insisted on knowing more. I think it’s his most emotional work. The book makes you feel the love of a parent so well and it’s also a beautiful coming of age story. I’m sure all children and adults will enjoy it. as far as I know the children’s version is different and has less details about the death and killing aspect so be mindful of that if you decide to purchase it for your kid.
The last book I read by Neil Gaiman is Stardust which has been made into a movie in 2017. As someone who has seen the movie I had my doubts about reading this book because I didn’t really like the movie that much. The movie starred and many celebs such as; Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, Claire Danes, Charlie Cox. The book enfolds you a bit slowly. Again for this one I listened to the audiobook and it was read by Gaiman himself. The book gets better after the first chapters. This again is fantasy fiction and it’s about a courageous and handsome young man called Tristan Thorne who lives in a village called the wall and in order to impress the woman he loves sets off on a journey beyond the wall to bring her a fallen star. I think as usual the book is much better than the film and it’s a beautiful and exciting story.
After having finished Stardust it became impossible not to notice the parallels between the books. I noticed that what drew me to his books is not only his storytelling and style and the imaginative worlds he creates but also his anti heroes’ adventures. The most important parallel was that the main character always faces a crisis in the beginning where he loses everything. As the story goes on we see this crisis becomes a gift which helps him grow. In American Gods Shadow loses his wife and job, in Neverwhere Richard loses his apartment, job and fiancee, in the Anansi Boys Fat Charlie loses his dead, his fiancee and his job, in the Graveyard Book Nobody Owens loses his mom and dad. In every book you experience together with the main character, a devastating fall, tumble, and lots of scars along the way but then you rise up with them. When you rise up I don’t mean it in a kiss ass way. Gaiman makes his characters grow. This growth starts with surrender and self acception. I think the message he is trying to convey is, life starts again when you think you have lost it all. Go on an adventure even when you’re scared, be good, help others even those you don2t know well and do your best to be courageous. Listen to your heart. Life can be a scary adventure but it’s worth living as long as you’re with those you love.
That’s what I learned from Neil Gaiman who I’ve discovered only in 2019 and who probably became my favorite author at the moment. Are you like me, do you try to work through an author’s complete work when you like them? Would you consider reading any of his works mentioned above. What is your favorite author lately? Do you mind sharing with me in the comments?