"Neil Gaiman, best known for being a low-rent version of Terry Pratchett in a leather jacket," quips one of my colleagues — name withheld to protect the heathen — amid a discussion of my beloved author's reading of The Graveyard Book. I won't lie. I immediately went on the defensive. Gaiman occupies a shelf in my heart beside The Mirror Empire's fiercely outspoken Kameron Hurley and short story virtuoso Benjanun Sriduangkaew.
a boy who was raised among ghosts and other things that go bump in the night
Though sometimes derided as "overrated," the Hugo Award winner's skill at world-building is difficult to contest. From the pre-apocalyptic strangeness that is Good Omens to the sprawling underworld of Neverwhere's London to the reimagined mythologies of American Gods, Gaiman's fictional universes are always lush, vivid, and startling — even the ones inhabited by his children books. The Graveyard Book is a fantasy novel about a boy who was raised among ghosts and other things that go bump in the night, and like so many of Gaiman's other works, it became a critical success, netting literary awards like the Newberry Medal, the Carnegie Medal, and the Hugo Award.
But true sublimity isn't just an eloquent collection of words, it's watching Neil Gaiman slowly, and luxuriously recite each and every chapter, before seguing to the Q&A segments. It's listening in rapt attention as the author peels the words from his own book, like Scheherazade in untamed curls and a black leather jacket. It's knowing that this wonderful reading of The Graveyard Book is completely and utterly free to experience, requiring nothing but chunks of your day.
Now, excuse me while I continue to squeal like a sixteen-year-old Twilight fan.