Neil Gaiman: Come Away, Oh Human Child 8.5.2013
In preparation for the upcoming release of Dust and Light, I decided to re-read the Lighthouse Duet. As part of the preparation for re-reading, I looked at some of the reviews at the time the books were released. It's fascinating to me that the emotional resonance that these two novels had for me, had little, if anything, to do with what the reviews highlighted.
Reviewers spoke about the books as a "coming-of-age" adventure and about "a troubled world full of politics, anarchy and dark magic." While this is true on one level, the books go much deeper than just a generic boy comes of age fantasy tale. The two novels were about the bones of civilization, about the threads that bind and what happens when they start to fray. The works spoke deeply to me about the nature of memory and, in the process of determining what should be preserved about a civilization, what it tells us about who we are, and our place and time in the river of history.
I am reminding myself that as my spiritual home, my roots are in history, literature, and archeology so those themes would have resonated more powerfully with me. I'm interested to see how that may or may not have shifted for me, in re-reading Flesh and Spirit and Breath and Bone three years later. Looking forward to seeing what remains behind for me on this immersion into the world of the Danae and the Navronne.
This was also the first time that I really loved the cover art for Carol's books. The artwork moved away from standard fantasy art fare to something much more evocative and ethereal which really suited the stories. The cover artist is Luis Roya.
Neil is the Travelling Storyteller. Some days, I wonder if he is Taliesin Ben Beirdd, Chief of Bards, reincarnated. Perhaps not. But for certain, he is of the Bardic Blood; a Druid in blue jeans. You have only to read his wonderful piece of poetry The Instructions, to understand that Gaiman is the Guide to those of us on the Fool's Journey. Or better yet, listen to him provide those instructions here. He knows the rules for surviving in the worlds of the elder gods.
He navigates this world, and all the worlds in between, and he opens the doors for those of us who may not know, or who may have forgotten, how to cross-over, how to walk the in-between. Gaiman is a virtuoso of the darkness that lurks beneath the fingernails of our civilized selves. He gives voice to the shadow of the wolf on the wall behind us, as she throws her head back and howls to the moon when the chain-makers and cage-crafters threaten her freedom.
Here is the review I just wrote of the Neil's last book The Ocean at the End of the Lane.
I don't often write reviews, but Neil Gaiman asked folks if they had read the book to review it; to boost the signal if they liked it. And so, because this may be the book I have loved the most on reading it for the first time and also the third time; a fall straight into love with it, a plummet straight over the edge of "I love this book so much I am buying it in hardcover" love, I am boosting the signal.
I'm not sure that the Neil needs a signal boost, but the man did ask. And he is a lovely man who loves libraries and who spins a yarn that will transport you to all the best of the dark places of childhood. He writes a lovely tale of terror and redemption, of memory and forgetting, of truth and wonder, of belief and knowing, of adults and children, of living and death, of the old ones and the proper respect that must be paid. All these things. And many other things but those are the ones that remain.
For those of you who have children who like to read about the things that go bump in the night and how even when we are little, with the right help, at the right time, in the right way, we can come through the other side of the night, a little wiser, a little older, a little stronger - buy them this book. If this is true for you, even though mayhap you are not so young any more, this book is still for you.
You can check out Neil's website here.