If you know me, you’ll know that I’m a little obsessed with Neil Gaiman. And when I say a little, I mean a lot. He’s my favourite writer EVER and probably my favourite person ever too. Not that I know him (well I once went to a book signing of his, but I don’t think this counts), but there’s something about his work that makes me think that he’s probably one of the most remarkable human beings that have ever existed.
Neil Gaiman is a science-fiction and fantasy writer. He’s not really that famous (unless you’re a bit of a geek… or a goth). He’s been writing for many years and his most popular work is the comic series The Sandman, which truly are fantastic. He’s not only a comic book writer though. In fact, he can write ANYTHING:
–Young adult: the first Neil Gaiman book that I read was Coraline. I can’t really remember when that was, maybe over 6 years ago. I fell in love with it immediately, and ended up buying it compulsively as a birthday/Christmas present every time I had the chance. ‘Coraline’ was made into a movie by Henry Sellick. It was released this year and I went to see twice. Last year Gaiman published The Graveyard Book, which I loved to bits. If ‘Coraline’ was a dark twist to ‘Alice In Wonderland’, ‘The Graveyard Book’ is a dark twist to ‘The Jungle Book’, and they both are superb tales.
–Short stories and poems: Gaiman has written lots of these over the years. Many can be read in the anthologies Smoke And Mirrors and Fragile Things. Some of his short stories and poems are funny, some are scary, some are happy, some are sad. Some are based in real life, some on imaginary worlds, some talk about the future, some about the past. ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ is the last Gaiman book that I bought. I never read the last story, so that there’ll always be something of his that I’ve never read (at least until his next book is published).
–Novels: my favourite Gaiman book is American Gods. It’s one of the best novels I’ve read in my life. ‘American Gods’ is very long, very complex, full of data, names and information. But it’s also so worth it. And so clever. So intelligent. It has a spin-off, Anansi Boys, which I actually read before… Gaiman also co-wrote Good Omens with Terry Pratchett that I have to confess I haven’t read (I’m just a bit suspicious, as I’m not very fond of Pratchett). He also wrote the very lovely Stardust, which I actually read on the plane when I moved to London. ‘Stardust’ was also made into a really fun, 80s feeling movie a couple of years ago.
–TV + Film: a few years ago Neil wrote the script for the British TV series Neverwhere, script that he later turned into a novel. He also co-wrote the scripts for Beowulf and Mirrormask (directed by his friend and usual illustrator Dave McKean). I must say that none of these are personal favourites, though.
Neil Gaiman’s work may be about ghosts, mythological creatures and non-existent worlds; but there’s something about it that transcends it all. His books, all of them, are about life, about being human and what that means. His books are full of human quality, like I’ve never seen before. Anywhere. And I think that’s what makes them special. They make you wanna be a good person, they make you believe that not all is lost in this world.
And now let’s go back to this entry’s title and QUOTE NEIL GAIMAN:
‘And there are always people who find their lives have become so unsupportable they believe the best thing they could do would be to hasten their transition to another plane of existence.’
‘They kill themselves, you mean?’ said Bod. He was about eight years old, wide-eyed and inquisitive, and he was not stupid.
‘Does it work? Are they happier dead?’
‘Sometimes. Mostly, no. It’s like the people who believe they’ll be happy if they go and live somewhere else, but who learn it doesn’t work that way. Wherever you go, you take yourself with you.’
(The Graveyard Book, 2008)
* * *
Each person who ever was or is or will be has a song. It isn’t a song that anybody else wrote. It has its own melody, it has its own words. Very few people get to sing their own song. Most of us fear that we cannot do it justice with our voices, or that our words are too foolish or too honest, or too odd. So people live their songs instead.
(Anansi Boys, 2005)
* * *
There are stories that are true, in which each individual’s tale is unique and tragic, and the worst of the tragedy is that we have heard it before, and we cannot allow ourselves to feel it too deeply. We build a shell around it like an oyster dealing with a painful particle of grit, coating it with smooth pearl layers in order to cope. This is how we walk and talk and function, day in, day out, immune to other’s pain and loss. If it were to touch us it would cripple us or make saints of us; but, for the most part, it does not touch us. We cannot allow it.
“No man”, proclaimed Donne, “is an island”, and he was wrong. If we were not islands, we would be lost, drowned in each other’s tragedies. We are insulated (a word that means, literally, remember, made into an island) from the tragedy of others, by our island nature, and by the repetitive shape and form of the stories. We know the shape, and the shape does not change. There was a human being who was born, lived and then, by some means or other, died. There. You may fill in the details from your own experience. As unoriginal as any other tale, as unique as any other life.
We draw our lines around these moments of pain, and remain upon our islands, and they cannot hurt us. They are covered with a smooth, safe, nacreous layer to let them slip, pearl-like, from our souls without real pain. Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.
(American Gods, 2001)
This will be stupidly good. We’re going to get stupidly wasted and play lots of Led Zeppelin. Yuki will probably break another rib and it’s going to be the best night everrrrrr.
We recently realised that we didn’t have a single decent photo of the three of us together, mainly because when we’re together and the cameras come out we’re usually hammered.
So we asked the very talented Alex De Mora to take some snaps.
KURT R.I.P – LONG LIVE COURTNEY.