The Graveyard Book - Take Two

I made a big time mistake with The Graveyard Book. I never read it (until this month).

Well, that's true in the strictest sense. I hadn't actually read it, but that's not the real mistake I made. My mistake was taking it in out of order.


After falling in love with Mirrormask, I discovered Neil Gaiman's blog before I read any of his fiction. I became an immediate addict. As Esther mentioned, Neil Gaiman is basically a superstar amongst writers.

But if it hadn't been for the fact that I recognized most of the names and faces of people he blogged about spending time with, I wouldn't have realized how famous he truly is. Because aside from being a brilliant writer and schmoozing with the stars, Neil Gaiman is a very nice, very gracious person. He comes across as laid back, sensible, and not a bit full of himself. Sure, his fee for speaking engagements is starworthy, but it makes complete sense. Not to mention it's donated to charity...

He's has a white german shepherd he rescued from the side of the road. He keeps bees. He watches Dr. Who with his teenaged daughter. He was in the middle of writing a novel. He was awesome

I loved reading about his writing process as he worked through it. In the meantime, I started reading his other novels and his short stories.

And to my surprise, I didn't enjoy them. I really wanted to, but I just didn't. Many authors have a familiar texture to their plotlines, and honestly I just didn't enjoy Neil Gaiman's. He was one of my favorite writers, but I didn't like his books.

So possibly deep down I was resigning myself to the thought that I wouldn't like The Graveyard Book either. I still counted down the months until the book came out, though. When he started touring, reading a chapter in each city, I listened to each recording. That was when I made the mistake of listening out of order.

I eagerly stood in line to attend his reading in our area when I was six months pregnant. My husband had little interest in The Graveyard Book at the time, and he fell asleep to the beautifully hypnotic tones of the Danse Macabre.

Later, much later, my husband read The Graveyard Book and loved it. "Why didn't you like it? He asked me. "It felt disjointed," I said, "there were all sorts of random unrelated events, like..." Examples popped into my head, but each time I tried to list one, I would instantly remember the reason for each event and how it related to the rest of the story. "Really? Because I thought the story was pretty much perfect," my husband said. I was baffled. Why did I have this impression that the story was disjointed?


I finally sat down and read The Graveyard Book straight through, and I can't believe that this past year and a half I've missed out on what my husband, the New York Times, the ALA, and lots and lots of other people know: The Graveyard Book is an amazing novel, marvelously written. "...surprise us and disappoint us and impress us and amaze us..." It is a tale of growing up in which the character actually does purposefully learn from his mistakes and grow through his experiences. While true to its name and its author, it does carry its share of darkness, in my opinion it balances perfectly on that fine line, never becoming too depressing or grisly. The characters are likable and realistic (for what they are). I like prose flowerier than Esther does, so I never felt that the writing was ever out of proportion. But then, "...if you can't trust a poet to offer sensible advice, who could you trust?" *ahem*

You can listen to it online for free too and form your own opinion. Just don't listen to it out of order!
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