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Writer, Father. Entrepreneur. Bum. Atheist. Recluse. Garhwali. Foodie. Downloader. Drifter. In no particular order.

21.1.15

enter sandman to neverwhere (an author profile and book review of sorts)

Neil Gaiman is the quintessential YA author. Perhaps best known for his cult Graphic Novel series The Sandman, Neil thrives fabulously in the ADD fuelled YA universe. It’s a universe (or is it multiverse?) that exists only partially in reality, while the other half dangles precariously from the fragile strands of dreams. He appears more like a carefully disheveled rock star than a fiction writer. He dabbles with equal ease in media as diverse as comic books, animation, novels, novellas, long stories, short stories, audio books, radio, television and movies. He’s not only a social media enthusiast but goes on to embrace it by interacting with his considerable fan base through his blog and twitter handle. Hell, he’s even married to a neo-feminist-punk-folk-goddess and erstwhile viral sensation Amanda Palmer. And he likes cats. So perhaps, you have to co-habit this half-real, half-virtual world with Neil Gaiman to appreciate him in his entirety. You have to understand that his idols and characters don’t just hail from literary classics but also from the DC and Marvel Universes. You have to accept that he not only cross-references Anglo-Saxon-Irish-Nordic gods and ancient folklore monsters but also gaudily clad superheroes. He’s a mash-up magician, a crossover cook, and I bestow these titles in the most well meaning way. Essentially, there are no boundaries whatsoever in Neil’s carefully crafted phantasm. Once you have assimilated this about Neil, off we go, down the rabbit hole and into a world where gods, monsters, monster-gods and god-monsters, heroes, superheroes and humans of all shapes and sizes jostle for your dreams and nightmares.

You could enter this world through many doors, the most obvious being graphic novels, short story collections and novels-or-novellas. I personally recommend Neverwhere, a creation that you may consume as a television series which was then adapted into a novel, and then adapted into a comic book by the legendary Mike Carey (of ‘Lucifer’ fame). Let’s talk about the novel here.

Neverwhere draws heavily from Alice in Wonderland and the Narnia series in terms of plot structure. But trust me, these are only springboards to leap from. From there, he takes you upon a dark and twisted fairytale journey that’s all his own. The female protagonist is literally called ‘Door’ and, perhaps a tad predictably, acts as a doorway between the modern day London, and a fantastic underground that mirrors and distorts the city above ground. This sub-London is populated by hobos and the forgotten who have fallen through the cracks of the real world, along with several bizarre and quirky characters like the sinister rat-chewing duo of Mr. Croup and Mr. Vandemar, the Rat speakers, the Marquis, the Hunter and the Angel Islington. This world of Neil is characterized by a dark, twisted and vividly visual imagination. You could also count on a deceptive simplicity that appears like a fairytale on the surface but is richly layered with a million hues and textures. Personally, I find the pacing racy, but I guess it may take some acclimatization to the weird crossover universe that Neil hails from. The plots are held together by a gossamer-light dream-logic that quickly evaporates under the harsh sunlight of reason and rhyme. However, the verbal images hit you at a gut level and stay there permanently, expanding and mutating your dream topography forever. If that sounds appetizing to you, I welcome you to the Sandman’s domain. May the American Gods watch over you.






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