There are Some Things Rats Can’t Do


Gaiman, Neil

Kindle e-book edition

Um.  Yeah.  I don’t know about this one.  Well, okay, maybe I need to come back to it, but I got halfway through and that was all I could be bothered with.  It’s not terrible, don’t get me wrong.  Just… seriously generic. It reads like a bunch of other fantasy books would read if they were written for twelve year olds.  Which is not a bad thing in itself, it’s just not what I was after.  I thought it would be a bit more gritty, somehow.   This was possibly because I read Un-Lun-Dun and King Rat, both by China Mieville, before I read this one – they deal with the same sort of topics, but in quite a different way.

I didn’t actually know that this was written originally as a screenplay, then ‘novelised’ (not sure if that’s actually a word, but you know what I mean, hopefully) after the television series it had been written for had aired.  This was in the mid-nineties, according to the Wikipedia entry on it anyway.  Did any of you cublings out there see the TV series?  It certainly never showed here, at least as far as I remember.  It actually looks pretty good.

And don’t say, Oh, it’s a bit soft like that because Neil Gaiman is English.  There have been lots of rough and tough and gross and horrible novels written by the English.  Of course, now that I’m thinking about it I can only think of comic book guys, but you know, I’m sure I’ll think of some novelists later. I guess, the main reason that I didn’t like it very much is that I thought it was kind of an insipid treatment of a really interesting topic.  Actually, not to put too fine a point on it, but it was a very insipid treatement of several really interesting topics – even the bit where Door finds her brother Arch floating in the pool had me shrugging with meh.  There are some really interesting ideas in it, don’t get me wrong.  Maybe I’ve just moved on from Neil.

Actually, yeah, maybe that’s it.  I seem to go through stages with authors, where I’ll read anything and everything that I can get my hands on by them.  But after the phase is finished, if I go back to them, I start to see the holes in their work, or I start to analyse it too deeply and I can’t get any enjoyment out of reading it.  There are only three books that I’ve re-read and re-read so that now I can quote large passages out of them, which is satisfying and embarrassing at the same time.  But to get back on topic (and away from my embarrassing habits), I’ve heard Neil Gaiman read, which I have to say is no mean feat when you live down this end of the world, and he seems to have this strange, almost groupie-esque following.   Now, I know that that’s no reason to dislike anyone’s writing, but hear me out.  That was the first and only reading-slash-talk from a really famous author that I’ve ever been to, so I have nothing to compare it with, but the followers seriously creeped me out.  I think that the groupie parallel is sort of apt you know, because musicians sell us dreams through the medium of music, which may or may not have anything to do with what they’re actually like as a person, and authors are a little the same.  But there are some people out there who start to think that the dreams are the person, and vice versa.  I’m sure someone’s written a thesis on it somewhere.

It’s certainly not that he writes badly.  He really doesn’t.  There are some really interesting ideas, and some really… clingy… phrases in all of the books of his that I’ve read.  Long lost brothers, people who can create worlds, gods who die and are reborn, interdimensional travel, all sorts of cool shit.  That bit in American Gods when Shadow and Wednesday go ‘backstage’ to get away from Mister World’s agents and meet Whiskey Jack.  I often feel though that he pulls his punches, which again is not such a bad thing – it’s just not what I like.  Well, not all the time, at any rate.

In writing this, I’m starting to think that I may only like American Gods.  I mean, Sandman is okay mostly (though almost revoltingly trite in parts), but I kind of hated Anansi Boys.  If you’re a Gaiman kind of person, then more speed to you, but I won’t be seeking out anything more to read.  But I’ll try Neverwhere again when I’m feeling in the need of something a little more gentle to read.


Posted on December 3, 2011, in Posts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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