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Old 05-23-2019, 10:10 AM   #61
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Of course The Jungle Book is the main inspiration of Neil Gaiman’s work but I noticed a nod to his interest in Norse Mythology in his description of Ghûlheim with its Nordic sounding name. But there is also a possible sly reference to H. P. Lovecraft with that writer’s description of alien landscapes having “obscene” mind-bending, horrifying angles. Note the following passage:

“Bod see that all of the angles were wrong–that the walls sloped crazily, that it was every nightmare he had ever endured made into a place, like a huge mouth of jutting teeth. It was a city that had been built just to be abandoned, in which all the fears and madnesses and revulsions of the creatures who built it were made into stone.”
My own reaction was that the wrong angles and the nightmare evoked by architecture was that it came from The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. I wonder if that could have influenced Lovecraft?
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Old 05-23-2019, 03:21 PM   #62
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That is a very interesting insight. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is certainly an astonishing Expressionist film that plays with themes such as madness, perception, illusion and reality. Here’s an interesting comment on its visual style.

“. . . painted back cloths, dominated by curves and cubes, deliberately distorted perspectives and furniture unnaturally elongated. The effect was to disorientate the viewer. . .”

Jeffrey Richards, “The Cabinet of Dr Caligari” in Movies of the Silent Years, edited by Ann Lloyd p.90, London, Orbis, 1985

It does sound rather Lovecraftian though I don’t know if Lovecraft himself ever saw the film. Considering his tastes for that sort of thing in his reading and his obsession with things alien, it wouldn’t surprise me if he did and was influenced by it.

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Old 05-24-2019, 12:26 AM   #63
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One of the things I loved was the way we were given an individual's tombstone words along with his or her name:
Yes. And the way they were just tossed off as part of the name. One of the little touches that elevated this well above a basic 3 stars.
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Old 05-24-2019, 01:48 AM   #64
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I AM joking, but really--Gaiman never thought to change the last name? Smith, Jones, something that didn't create an insulting three-letter word? Guess he never visited a baby names site advising parents to be careful about things like this.
Or he looked but didn't notice a problem at the time. I'm put in mind of Homer and Marge Simpson looking for baby names for their as-yet-unborn hellion, and Homer keeps finding things wrong with names, stuff that kids might make fun of, but strangely, when "Bart" is mentioned Homer can think of nothing untoward. By which I mean, it happens to all of us that we sometimes miss what seems obvious to others.

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When I read this, I couldn't help thinking of other works set in graveyards, especially where the dead are animate and interact with the living. One of my favorite books from last year was George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo. Another fairly recent read of mine is Peter S. Beagle's A Fine and Private Place, set very recognizably in Woodlawn Cemetery in the Bronx. Then there's the drama Our Town. [...]
I was a little surprised to see Beagle in your list ... and it's a book (his first) that I haven't read yet.

I had a bit of trouble shaking Johnny and the Dead by Terry Pratchett out of my head when I first read this (also targetted at younger readers) ... now I will probably have the reverse problem when I next re-read the Pratchett book.

One problem in looking for links to other works is that the setting itself both inspires and limits the associated imagery. As a result many authors will seem to borrow from one another when it may be just a shared/common background being exposed.

Which isn't to say there are not some deliberate links.
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Old 05-24-2019, 07:43 AM   #65
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Yes. And the way they were just tossed off as part of the name. One of the little touches that elevated this well above a basic 3 stars.
Another is the odd names given to the ghouls. I LOL when one was called the thirty-third president! That would be Harry Truman. 😀
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Old 05-24-2019, 07:48 AM   #66
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Another is the odd names given to the ghouls. I LOL when one was called the thirty-third president! That would be Harry Truman. 😀
And I did rather enjoy the explanation for how they got their names ... when it eventually came.
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Old 05-24-2019, 08:15 AM   #67
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That is a very interesting insight. The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari is certainly an astonishing Expressionist film that plays with themes such as madness, perception, illusion and reality. Here’s an interesting comment on its visual style.

“. . . painted back cloths, dominated by curves and cubes, deliberately distorted perspectives and furniture unnaturally elongated. The effect was to disorientate the viewer. . .”

Jeffrey Richards, “The Cabinet of Dr Caligari” in Movies of the Silent Years, edited by Ann Lloyd p.90, London, Orbis, 1985

It does sound rather Lovecraftian though I don’t know if Lovecraft himself ever saw the film. Considering his tastes for that sort of thing in his reading and his obsession with things alien, it wouldn’t surprise me if he did and was influenced by it.
There's sufficient layers and allusions that an annotated version could be pulled off. Extrapolating from that is why this works as kidlit and as an adult read; there's enough going on to keep the grownups entertained. I'm also all over challenging kids; they may miss many if not most of the allusions, but they add substance and something may click. This is also why I could forgive "Jack Frost" and the Jacks of All Trades; no reason not to toss a softball to the least sophisticated or youngest readers. They can pride themselves on getting it and it serves as an indicator of the richness of the text.

OT: I have a niece whose initials are SAP. Sigh. Her parents battled over her name and that was the best they could do.
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Old 05-24-2019, 09:57 AM   #68
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There's sufficient layers and allusions that an annotated version could be pulled off. Extrapolating from that is why this works as kidlit and as an adult read; there's enough going on to keep the grownups entertained. I'm also all over challenging kids; they may miss many if not most of the allusions, but they add substance and something may click. This is also why I could forgive "Jack Frost" and the Jacks of All Trades; no reason not to toss a softball to the least sophisticated or youngest readers. They can pride themselves on getting it and it serves as an indicator of the richness of the text.
I like these layers too. I also liked the historical references, and I think I would have had fun as a young reader figuring out Silas was a vampire without it being directly stated too. On the other side, even though it was a coming of age story, I liked how it also addressed the adult side of letting go as children mature and enter the adult world. I thought the ending scenes between Bod and his Owens “parents” were very touching and well done.
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Old 05-24-2019, 11:00 AM   #69
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I thought the ending scenes between Bod and his Owens “parents” were very touching and well done.
Bod seemed to be much more attached to Silas than to the Owenses for almost all of the book--the "parents" practically disappeared for long stretches, even when Bod was still quite young. At least that was my impression when reading; I no longer have a copy to check.
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Old 05-24-2019, 06:23 PM   #70
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I think Silas was important because he was a link with the outside world, and of course he knew a great deal, having been around for a very long time. Bod didn’t have adventures with his parents, but they were a safe place to go to atthe end of the day (or night).

Reverting back to Kipling, Mowgli spends a lot of time with Bagheera, but he went back to see his wolf parents and mourned for them when they died.
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Old 05-24-2019, 06:50 PM   #71
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I do think Silas had to be a shout-out to Buffy; did vampires who repented and worked on the side of good exist before Buffy? I certainly hope Gaiman wasn't alluding to the sparkly Twilight vamps!

Silas, of course, is also a hook in any sequel as we know nothing about his backstory.
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Old 05-24-2019, 07:23 PM   #72
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I do think Silas had to be a shout-out to Buffy; did vampires who repented and worked on the side of good exist before Buffy? I certainly hope Gaiman wasn't alluding to the sparkly Twilight vamps!

Silas, of course, is also a hook in any sequel as we know nothing about his backstory.
Wasn't Louis, in Interview with the Vampire, a "good" vampire? If memory serves--and it's been a long time--he turned against his kind and fed only when necessary. (I never read any of the sequels, so his character may have changed.) I tend to think of Interview with the Vampire as the beginning of the sexy vampires, though it took a while for them to become sparkly.
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Old 05-24-2019, 07:27 PM   #73
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Wasn't Louis, in Interview with the Vampire, a "good" vampire? If memory serves--and it's been a long time--he turned against his kind and fed only when necessary. (I never read any of the sequels, so his character may have changed.) I tend to think of Interview with the Vampire as the beginning of the sexy vampires, though it took a while for them to become sparkly.
Oho! I think you're right. I had forgotten about Louis. (And I didn't read the sequels either.)
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Old 05-24-2019, 07:32 PM   #74
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Ambiguous vampires have been around for a while - Ann Rice's vampires spring to mind. (I see Catlady beat me to it but posting anyway.) Redeemed bad-people of various sorts have been around for a very long time - various parables in the bible spring to mind (eg: the prodigal son). Redemption and atonement is a fairly common theme in fiction. So I don't see Buffy - but then I only ever saw the movie, not the series.

But, yes, Silas and the whole Honour Guard thing seems like a possible hook for a future story. But only maybe. Gaiman has made quite a habit of alluding to large backstories and then never (yet) coming back to them. It's quite refreshing compared to many other authors that create the one world and continue to exploit just that one for their career.
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Old 05-25-2019, 06:32 PM   #75
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I agree. I love Gaiman’s extraordinary imagination, and you never know what he is going to do next. Each book is a new experience.
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