Friday, August 06, 2010

Visiting graves with Neil Gaiman

{Photos by rocketlass.}

I wouldn’t consider myself quite a Neil Gaiman fan: though I have enjoyed a lot of his work, I often feel that it could be just a bit better, that he could push his ideas and his prose alike a bit more and turn what is never less than an interesting, fun story into something more closely approaching genius.

That said, I really enjoyed The Graveyard Book, which is a ghost-and-ghoul-filled homage to Kipling’s Jungle Book. Midway through it is an example of the one thing Gaiman does best: offer an answer to an inexplicable question we’ve never quite realized we’d had, such as, “Why is there a Tube stop named Angel?”; “Where do all those strange doors and stairwells and such in the Undergound go?”; and “Why is the House on the Rock in the middle of nowhere?” Given its title, you won’t be surprised that the question answered in The Graveyard Book has to do with cemeteries:
One grave in every graveyard belongs to the ghouls. Wander any graveyard long enough and you will find it--waterstained and bulging, with cracked or broken stone, scraggly grass or rank weeds about it, and a feeling, when you reach it, of abandonment. It may be colder than the other gravestones, too, and the name on the stone is all too often impossible to read. If there is a statue on the grave it will be headless or so scabbed with fungus and lichens as to look like a fungus itself. If one grave in a graveyard looks like a target for petty vandals, that is the ghoul-gate. If the grave makes you want to be somewhere else, that is the ghoul-gate.
Needless to say, your instincts are right: you should stay away from the ghoul-gate. Unless, that is, you like being menaced by ghouls.

No comments:

Post a Comment