Posts Tagged ‘neil gaiman’
I read The Graveyard Book over the long weekend while I visited Sonika, and I’m telling you, this is a testament to how awesome Neil Gaiman is because we packed our days and I was exhausted every night.
The Graveyard Book won the Newberry Award last year, which is an award for young adult books. Although Gaiman hadn’t heard of the award when his agent called to give him the news, it still puts his book in fairly good company if you’re into young adult books at all- or were ever a kid.
The book opens with the murders of an entire family, except for the toddler son, who crawls out the open door and into the graveyard across the street. The ghosts decide to protect the child, and name him Nobody Owens. As he grows up, he moves back and forth between the living and the dead, and eventually comes face to face with his would-be murderer. The dialogue is wonderful, as are the histories of the ghosts and Nobody’s guardians.
As someone who reads the graphic novels on occasion, I also really enjoyed the illustrations by Dave McKean, who rocks my socks off.
All in all, a great book, as I promptly came home and recommended it to my mom, and decided I might just have to own a copy for myself.
No, I haven’t stopped reading. I have, however, started a new job. So, my life has been work. And sleep. And only now am I able to bring blogging back into the mix. Oh yeah, and reading, but that’s really in the category of eating and pooping – Things I Do Because if I Didn’t, I Would Not Biologically Be Able To Survive. I am lucky in that my job provides some structured reading time (that would be nap-time for the kiddos) and some unstructured moments when the kids veg out with Bob the Builder and I veg out with a book.
So, I have read quite a bit the past week or so. And to be a total jerk, I’m going to dump it all here. Perhaps eventually I will be a better blogger, but for now, I kind of suck.
The Forgery of Venus by Michael Gruber: I read this as soon as I got back from Portugal, but with the umpteen hundred other vacations I took this summer (honestly, I needed to start a new 50hr/wk job to recover from my vacations) and starting a job, blogging about it hasn’t happened yet. I really liked The Book of Air and Shadows by Gruber, and I picked this one up at South Station for the train ride back from Boston to PVD since I had finished my book on the flight from Madrid and I can not survive without a book. Seriously. It is honestly problematic that I am not only a voracious reader, but I’m a very fast reader as well. (No, I don’t skim, I just have mad speed reading skills.) I can finish a 400pg. novel in six hours. Eight if it’s particularly dense. Forgery of Venus took me approximately four and a half, considering I was more than half done with it by the time I got home an hour and change later. I wouldn’t really classify it as a “thriller,” though it certainly moves at a fast clip. For a “mass-market” book, I underlined an overwhelming amount of this book as it is one of the most accurate and insightful books about art that I’ve ever read. Truly, Gruber gets what it is to struggle as a visual artist. Really well done. Two thumbs up.
A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini: Awesome book, but man, this is like the Feel Bad Book of the Year. I don’t think it is actually possible for this book to be any more depressing. There’s a certain kind of Murphy’s Law quality to it: Is it possible for one more awful thing to happen? Yes? Well, it totally will. A lot of this book felt eye-rollingly formulaic to me: there’s becoming a trend in Describing Life in A Muslim Country to Westerners novels (yeah, there are a bunch of these) where the women have unfulfilling lives except for this one secret light of sexy sex, and that one night which has all sorts of “electricity” and other stupid metaphors, forms a central part of the plot. Maybe it’s just reading this on the heels of The Roses of Tehran, which has a similar kind of issue makes me kind of jaded, but do we really have to do this? We’ve got barely two dimensional women set up to educate us Westerners about how Things Are Different, can we at least get more than one dimension in the plot? For all of my whining, I did like and would recommend this book, but only if you’ve got plenty of vodka or Prozac on hand. Or both.
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman: Ah yes, YA lit about death. This is a genre unto itself that I am loving. I don’t really like typical YA lit all that much, but I do like death. I really loved The Book Thief and this is also a fast favorite. I think if you like one of these two, you’ll like the other. They’re very similar in feel without being the same at all in terms of voice or plot. I’ll admit it that I’m developing a real boner for Neil Gaiman. I unabashedly love everything I’ve read that he’s ever written. I’m re-reading Anansi Boys now and it feels just as awesome as the first time. The man has got some serious skill: smart novels that feel lighter than they really are. His work is not fluff, but it reads quickly and I find myself holding back giggles should I be reading in a public place. Great stuff.
In fact, I read even MORE on vacation than I normally do, which puts me way the hell behind on my updates. I’m just going to write little blurbs as if I try to write actual entries, I’ll procrastinate from THE PRESSURE and then I’ll never update again and you will never, ever know what I’ve been reading. Think of how sad you’ll be then. (The correct answer is: VERY.)
It Sucked and Then I Cried by Heather Armstrong: I liked this more than Kat did, but I think that might be because I wasn’t expecting much more than your typical dooce-fare in book form. Also: I started reading dooce late (read: like, two years ago) and so I went back from the very beginning and read the entries chronologically, so since I wasn’t waiting in between “episodes,” it felt kind of book-like. It’s funny and sometimes insightful and was just the thing to keep me busy but not having to exert more than five brain cells while finishing my job and moving.
The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje: Since this is Kat’s favorite book, I HAD to read it. I don’t know what took me so long, really. And holy effin’ hell, it’s amazing. It’s the sort of book where I was very upset that there was an ending to the story because I just wanted Ondaatje to keep writing forever, damnit. I guess this means maybe I should read some of his other books. I’m also going to watch the movie, which I have from NetFlix, perhaps tonight. Maybe. I’m way worse about watching my NetFlix than I am about reading. Way, way worse.
The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Steig Larsson: Ah, Swedes. My people. I read this book while I was in Portugal and didn’t have the wherewithal to read Infinite Jest (yes, I’m doing that Infinite Summer thing) while jetlagged. It was comforting to read a book with my people while being in a place that bore no resemblance whatsoever either physically or culturally to Scandihoovia. Did you know that the Portuguese don’t speak in subtext? Yeah. What’s with that? I can tell you that this book is about eight pages of subtext for each paragraph of dialog, because that’s the Swedish way. It’s very well written and the plot is intense and pretty much perfectly done. And man, the ending. I laughed my ass off at the last two pages for just how PERFECTLY SCANDINAVIAN it was. If you want to know anything about Swedes, read those two pages. That’ll do ya.
Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman: This book reminded me of what a Terry Pratchett book would be like if ratcheted up about 50 IQ points. “Sci-Fi” in that “alternate universe” sense and not the dragons and wizards sense, very very smart, and hilarious as hell. I honestly LOLed. In public. Amazing, amazing book.
Pattern Recognition by William Goldman: I read this book on the plane, and not only was it the perfect book for such a thing being as it deals extensively with travel and jetlag features prominently into the character of the protagonist, but it was so compelling that I found out that I can read an entire book in six hours. I’ve always been a fast reader and since I read for at least two hours a day at this point in my life, my reading speed is about Mach III. This isn’t skimming either, this is “notes in the margins” reading. With a break for lunch. Six hours. The downside of this is that I only brought one book on the plane and it was an EIGHT HOUR flight. TWO HOURS sans book. I nearly broke out in hives and immediately bought a book in South Station for the train ride home. And proceeded to read 100+ pages in an hour. Again, notes in the margins and everything. I win in Olympic speed-reading. So, yes, this is an excellent book and if you’re not me, you can probably make it stretch through an entire trans-Atlantic flight.