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Old 05-01-2019, 06:51 AM   #1
issybird
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May 2019 Discussion • The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman



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Gaiman had the idea for the story in 1985, after seeing his then-two-year-old son Mike "pedaling his tricycle around a graveyard" near their home in East Grinstead, West Sussex. Recalling how comfortable his son looked there, Gaiman thought he "could write something a lot like The Jungle Book and set it in a graveyard." When he sat down to write, however, Gaiman decided he was "not yet a good enough writer" and came to the same conclusion as he revisited it every few years. He eventually published it in 2008.

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Old 05-15-2019, 06:45 AM   #2
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It's time to talk about The Graveyard Book. What did we think of it?
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:18 AM   #3
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OK, I'll start it off. I must say, I was pleasantly surprised by this book. I found it quite charming and enjoyable. I'll have some more to say later, but first, a quick "Thanks" to Bookworm_Girl for the nomination. Even though SFF is my core genre, I've never been a big fan of Neil Gaiman, and this is the first of his books I've quite enjoyed.
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Old 05-15-2019, 10:53 AM   #4
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I enjoyed this, also. It would have been even more fun if I'd had a middle-schooler to share it with.

I'll start off by saying that if you don't remember or never read Kipling's two Jungle Books, they might be worth a skim, or at least I found it so. I found it enhanced my appreciation of both Gaiman's tale and his ingenuity in adapting it, opening it up. I've never been a fan of stories about anthropomorphized animals and Kipling's got a lot of baggage associated with him, but the appreciation worked both ways and with Gaiman in mind, I was able to appreciate Kipling for both story and language.
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Old 05-15-2019, 12:27 PM   #5
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I also loved the book—though I have always enjoyed Gaiman’s work. But I knew I was in for something special from the sombre opening in which the prowling Man Jack attempts the murder of a family followed by the remarkable rescue of the toddler in the graveyard. From there on the pacing was superb.

I read the Anniversary edition and listened to the reading by Gaiman which was brilliant. There is also a graphic novel version which is pricey but still worth exploration if one enjoys that approach.
BTW Gaiman has said that a sequel is in the works but it might not return to the graveyard.

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Old 05-15-2019, 01:55 PM   #6
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I have read this before and enjoyed it just as much this time, maybe a little more even. I wanted to try the audiobook but didn't end up having it in time so I just re-read the ebook.

I am not a huge Gaiman fan although I really enjoyed American Gods and a short story I heard on the Levar Burton Reads podcast (#7, Chivalry). I haven't enjoyed the other books by him that I have read nearly as much though.

I'll come back later with some thoughts.
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Old 05-15-2019, 04:28 PM   #7
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I enjoyed it as well - it’s a fun book. I thought it would engage the younger readers in my family. Having each event tied up by the end of its chapter makes it a great ‘read aloud together’ book, and I plan to pick one up as a gift.

It was my first book by Gaiman. Just based on descriptions, I haven’t been attracted to his books, though I very much enjoy F& SF, so I was pleasantly surprised.
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Old 05-15-2019, 06:53 PM   #8
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I loved it too. I had read it when it was first published and remembered I had enjoyed it then. Curiously though, I could remember nothing more than the bare bones of the story, so the details obviously did a Fade in my mind!

Like issybird, I went back to Kipling after I finished Gaiman, as I was recognising some of the parts of Mowgli’s story in that of Bod, especially Bod’s abduction by the ghouls, and his rescue. I liked Silas and his links to Bagheera the panther too.

I think Gaiman has pulled off a brilliant double here, with a most enjoyable and original story that is at the same time a loving tribute to a classic in children’s literature.

I should add that I like Gaiman very much. The short story Chivalry which Dazrin mentioned was the first piece of his writing I ever read, and I still love its quirky charm.
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Old 05-15-2019, 07:16 PM   #9
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PS. If anyone wants to check on Chivalry, it is in a collection of Gaiman’s short stories called Smoke and Mirrors. A must read for those interested in a charming take on the Arthurian stories.
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Old 05-15-2019, 07:54 PM   #10
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It is also available in audio form from the Levar Burton Reads podcast or there are several other inexpensive audio versions.
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Old 05-15-2019, 08:38 PM   #11
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This is a favourite so I knew I'd enjoy it again even though it was only around 2 years since my last visit; this is one of those books I could pick up at any time. (I must say that Kipling's The Jungle Book never quite held the same attraction for me; I admire it for its place in history/literature more than for the stories themselves.)

I think it takes a very special touch to be able to weave a tale like this, where grief, and loss, and violence and ugliness are so central to the story and yet the story avoids losing itself in any of these things. That, almost as much as anything else, is what makes this feel so much a fairytale; the prose remains mostly light and unaffected and yet the feelings are all there and none of the depth is lost.


I find Gaiman to be an adventure; when you pick up a new book of his you never know what what you will find. I like his voice, so I buy and read all his books, but they get quite a wide range of responses from me. My favourites of his include this, as well as Neverwhere (a novelisation of the TV series he wrote), and Stardust - another story that feels so much like a fairytale, though rather more traditional in its styling than this book.
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Old 05-15-2019, 08:51 PM   #12
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The best I can say is that I didn't hate it.

Unlike some recent selections that I had to force myself to get through, it at least held my interest most of the way, though I wanted a real plot, not just a bunch of strung-together episodes. I am not inspired to read more of Neil Gaiman.

I listened to the full-cast audiobook, which was acceptable, though the musical interludes were overdone, and the voicing of Sleer was WAY over the top.

And somebody tell me why, when the toddler was the primary target of the man Jack, he killed the other members of the family first--or at all? Wouldn't a good assassin go straight for the toddler? Of course, then there'd be no story, but, seriously, couldn't Gaiman come up with some rationale to explain this stupidity instead of just ignoring it?

Maybe I missed it, but why weren't the murders and the missing toddler splashed all over the news?

Jack Frost? Seriously?
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Old 05-15-2019, 11:54 PM   #13
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The episodic nature of the book was in reference to the series of stories about Mowgli in The Jungle Book. I thought they hung together well, but then I am predisposed to enjoy Gaiman.

Killing the whole family was presumably a way of stopping the outcry they would make if only the toddler was killed. I think the implication at least was that the Jacks of All Trades was an extremely powerful "behind the scenes" group, with the contacts to manage to suppress such reports in the news, and presumably to stop the involvement of the police.

While I agree that this may seem a little far-fetched, I think we are kidding ourselves if we believe that manipulations by powerful groups and individuals do not go on in our various countries. We only think we know what is going on!

I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the book more, but it sounds as if I would have hated the audiobook you listened to also. But then, I far prefer reading a book to listening to one.
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Old 05-16-2019, 12:02 AM   #14
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Oh my! I didn't realize today was the 15th so I didn't see this post until now and don't have much time until the weekend to respond. I'm so happy that many of you enjoyed this book!

Here are a few thoughts for now. I really loved this book a lot even though it's not the usual type of book that I would read. I expected to like it since I enjoyed Neverwhere and Coraline. I'm not sure I would like some of his other books such as American Gods but who knows how I might be surprised if I tried it. I do enjoy some fantasy now and then, especially when mixed with children's books.

Like others, I read The Jungle Book before I read The Graveyard Book, and it enhanced my appreciation of Gaiman's accomplishment on this book. I did not particularly like The Jungle Book as much as other Kipling books that I have read such as Kim. However, I wanted to understand Gaiman's inspiration for the structure of his book. One of which is that the overall plot is the coming of age story for Bod and that he has to ultimately defeat his nemesis independently, but it is told in a series of stories that are about coming of age and fitting in just like in The Jungle Book.

Also, after reading The Jungle Book, I wrote down a list of themes as follows: Rules and Order, Revenge, Violence, Courage, Coming of Age, Foreignness/Outsider, Principles, Betrayal and Family.

After I read The Graveyard Book and looked back on this list of themes, I could see how much Gaiman was able to replicate through his own unique story.
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Old 05-16-2019, 12:06 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Catlady View Post
The best I can say is that I didn't hate it.

Unlike some recent selections that I had to force myself to get through, it at least held my interest most of the way, though I wanted a real plot, not just a bunch of strung-together episodes. I am not inspired to read more of Neil Gaiman.
Coming from Catlady, I think this is actually a compliment. LOL.
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