Friday Five: Neil Gaiman

By Peter SM RSS Fri, June 21, 2013

Neil Gaiman has just released his newest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and to say that a number of us here at the Free Library are beyond excited to read it would be an understatement!

Whether it's comic books, prose, children's lit, short fiction, or even television (where he was immortalized forever in pop culture on The Simpsons when Homer Simpson referred to the author as "British Fonzie"), there is always something magical that Neil Gaiman creates with his work.

Here is a "Friday Five" of some of Mr. Gaiman's best work (but honestly, you could list his whole bibliography here and there wouldn't be a stinker in the bunch ; )

Neverwhere Neverwhere
by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman's first novel and still one of his best and most adventurous is like if Alice in Wonderland took place in the tube tunnels of London. Richard Mayhew is a man who helps out a girl known only as "Door" and winds up falling into a shadowy underworld called London Below, embarking on a quest that is full of hidden passageways, (un)human characters, and even talking rats. Is this reality or just an insane dream world in Richard's mind?

American Gods American Gods
by Neil Gaiman

For a book that won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, and Bram Stoker Awards, you would expect American Gods to be epic. It is indeed an epic, a 400+ page turner that takes you on a road trip across America with a protagonist named Shadow, a man named Mr. Wednesday (who we later learn is not who he really seems to be), and more fascinating characters than you can literally dream up. It all culminates in a war on Earth between Gods old and new. Urban fantasy meets mythological deities, creating a whole new weird world for the reader to lose themselves in.

The Sandman - ten collected volumes The Sandman (ten collected volumes)
by Neil Gaiman, Sam Keith, Dave McKean, and various other artists

One of the most acclaimed and influential comic books ever, Neil Gaiman's version of The Sandman helped usher in the "Graphic Novel" in the 1980s, as well as being one of the first and few titles in the comic book medium to ever be on the New York Times bestseller list. The series could best be describe as horror-edged fantasy that also mixed in elements of mythology and the "tragic hero" figure. The main character is named Dream and Gaiman has summed up the character and series as, "The Lord of Dreams learns that one must change or die, and makes his decision." Gritty, graphic, poetic, and mesmerizing storytelling and art meld to create a true work of art.

Smoke and Mirrors Smoke & Mirrors
by Neil Gaiman

An anthology of short stories and poems covering the entirety of Gaiman's published history. All together dark and mysterious, magical and quirky, this collection of almost 30 stories includes "Chivalry," about finding the Holy Grail in a thrift shop; "Troll Bridge," an adult version of the children's fairy tale; "Murder Mysteries," which features a cigarette bumming angel as the narrator of Lucifer's fall from grace; and the apocalyptically absurd "Only The End Of The Wold Again".

Instructions Instructions
by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess

Like Gaiman channeling Dr. Seuss and Maurice Sendak, this is a poem masquerading as a children's book and vice versa. The reader is taken into a fairy tale world where a swashbuckling cat / fox hybrid embarks on a journey that includes a magical compass, a castle with three princesses, dragons, wolves, and assorted other fantastical creatures, all rendered in wonderful watercolors by Charles Vess. The subtle subtitle of the book, Everything You’ll Need to Know on Your Journey, sums up its real world allusions and makes a kid's book resonate for adults as well.

As an added bonus, here are five highly entertaining and inspiring quotes from the author on the topics of books, writing, and libraries:

“Books make great gifts because they have whole worlds inside of them. And it’s much cheaper to buy somebody a book than it is to buy them the whole world!”

"The one thing that you have that nobody else has is you. Your voice, your mind, your story, your vision. So write and draw and build and play and dance and live as only you can.”

“Picking five favorite books is like picking the five body parts you’d most like not to lose.”

“[D]on’t ever apologize to an author for buying something in paperback, or taking it out from a library (that’s what they’re there for. Use your library). Don’t apologize to this author for buying books second hand, or getting them from bookcrossing or borrowing a friend’s copy. What’s important to me is that people read the books and enjoy them, and that, at some point in there, the book was bought by someone. And that people who like things, tell other people. The most important thing is that people read… ”

“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers, a librarian can bring you back the right one.”  : D

Browse our online catalog for almost 200 books, ebooks, audiobooks, graphic novels, and DVDs by Neil Gaiman!

Tell us in the comments about some of your favorite Neil Gaiman books or other favorite fantasy writers.

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