I just earned (a bit belatedly) another patch of nerd-cred: I read my first Neil Gaiman.
Neverwhere was a blast to read, and I just couldn’t put it down. Makes sense, as it is also a BBC miniseries.
As our hero, Richard, weaves his way deeper into the otherworldly London-below, he is accompanied by a cast of characters bursting with such imaginative depth that they exceed the strictures of the book itself.
This is one of the aspects that makes this book such a treat – the thoroughly textured, intricate and bizarre secondary characters suggest a fully realized world, although we only get to view a slight portion. One of my favorites was the abbot that Richard meets in what becomes his quest:
“So, the day became one of waiting, which was, he knew, a sin: moments were to be experienced; waiting was a sin against both the time that was still to come and the moments one was currently disregarding. Still, he was waiting.”
Richard is drawn into this world by Door (not the thing, but a person), who he finds wounded on a London sidewalk.
Their drama plays perfectly for the light-reading length, and is a full adventure story in a genre all-too-packed with trilogies as of late.
Also, despite the fantastical and entertaining nature of the book, Gaiman’s famously interwoven philosophic and comic ruminations shine through.
“Richard made another entry in his mental diary. Today, he thought, I’e survived walking the plank, the kiss of death, and a lecture on inflicting pain. Right now, I’m on my way through a labyrinth with a mad bastard who came back from the dead and a bodyguard who turned out to be a…whatever the opposite of a bodyguard is. I am so far out of my depth that…Metaphors failed him, then. He had gone beyond the world of metaphor and simile into the place of things that are, and it was changing him.”
No matter if we’re traveling with zombies, bird-men, best friends, or a stranger, that moment of surpassing revelation, of pure presence, of transcendence of the person you thought you were, is one worth remembering and celebrating.
Dispatch this week to my lil bro!