Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard BookAs I posted earlier I got the pleasure of going to a Neil Gaiman reading in Boulder at the first of the month. On his book tour of The Graveyard Book, he read a chapter a stop with the exception of chapter 7, which due to its length had to be spread across two stops. Unfortunately the Boulder stop fell on part 2 of chapter 7. This was unfortunate not because of his reading, which was superb, but that the 2nd part of chapter 7 gives a way the ending. Now that in itself would not have been bad, it was just I was only on chapter 4.

However, even knowing how the book was going to end, it was still a wonderful trip. I loved the storyline of a little boy being raised by ghost in a cemetery and the story of how Mr. Gaiman came up with the idea. When his son was young, there was no place for him to ride his bike where they lived so Mr. Gaiman would take his son to a nearby cemetery to ride his bike. As he watched his son ride his tricycle around the gravestones, he thought what a wonderful place for a boy to be raised. He had enjoyed Kipling’s Jungle Books as a boy, and thus the idea for The Graveyard Book was conceived, and twenty-some years later, was finally born.

In The Graveyard Book, a boy is adopted by a graveyard after his family is killed. I know it may sound cool to be raised by ghosts and a guardian that is neither dead nor alive in an overgrown old graveyard. And of course it would be, but even growing up among the dead there are still many things a live child needs to learn such as fading and how to recognize and escape from Ghoul Gates. Each chapter is a short story about the boy’s adventures as he grows up in the graveyard. In fact, chapter 4, The Witches Headstone, can also be found in Neil Gaiman’s book of short stories, M is for Magic (highly recommended).

Once again Mr. Gaiman amazing me with his imagination and story-telling abilities. My favorite chapter was chapter 3 where we learned about Ghoul Gates. My sister and I come from a long line of cemetery walkers from my mother side and have recently taken back up the tradition. Our eyes will now be pealed wide open to spot the Ghoul Gate. According to Mr. Gaiman all cemeteries have them, and I have a feeling he is an excellent authority on the matter.

What exactly is a Ghoul Gate? I suggest you read chapter 3 in The Graveyard Book to find out ☺ .

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