Due to a hectic schedule this week, I’m only one-third of the way through Neil Gaiman’s latest, The Graveyard Book, yet I feel pretty confident recommending it.
A toddler who comes to be named Nobody Owens wanders out of his home and into a graveyard on the night his family is slain by a mysterious man. A community of ghosts, led by Mr. and Mrs. Owens, elect to grant the boy ‘freedom of the graveyard’ and harbor him to both raise him and keep him safe. The story feels unique to me and Gaiman’s language is a sensory delight. He manages to keep the tale visually and viscerally appealing with descriptive language while keeping the story moving, and that’s besides the stylish, haunting illustrations by long-time Gaiman collaborator, Dave McKean.
The Graveyard Book is perfect for me because it’s a YA book following a boy’s life in which every chapter is its own complete short story and yet connect to each other in an overall arching storyline. That’s precisely the project I worked on during my MFA days, aside from the whole ‘being raised by ghosts’ bit. I’ve found each story I’ve read so far to truly feel self-contained while also feeding into the stories that came before it, every one adding to the story. There’s enough mystery in the first few stories to keep me interested in seeing what ultimately happens to young Nobody Owens, and I hope to finish the novel next week if my likely-just-as-hectic schedule permits.
Minnesota Public Radio ran a wonderful piece on Neil Gaiman this week and the author wrapped up his book tour for The Graveyard Book in St. Paul on Wednesday night. Unfortunately for me, I work most every Wednesday evening (except next week. Pity, off by just one week!), but hopefully you made it to one of his readings. Don’t feel too bad for me, however; I’ve met the man at least nine or ten times, and at the fifth meeting he called me an official stalker.