Thursday, December 4, 2008

Death and Me

Set in the Midwest

For those who are uneducated in the ways of my literary preferences, Neil Gaiman is my favorite author. American Gods, Neverwhere, Good Omens, and The Sandman series are all phenomenal. Currently I'm reading Coraline which is an "all ages" book by him that is being made into a movie by Henry Selick, the man behind The Nightmare Before Christmas. It's very good and I'm enjoying it immensely. After this I've got The Graveyard Book and Anansi Boys to read. From there, Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things. Oh, and he lives just outside of Minneapolis, Minnesota, because he loves the area so much. Not only is he the greatest author of our time, but he also has very good taste in communities and people. And I'm somewhat embarassed that I just now found his blog.

To know her is to love her

Why I bring this up is because I just found out that Mr. Gaiman is working on a film called Death and Me, based on his short series Death: The High Cost of Living which revolves around the character of Death from the Sandman graphic novels. It would not be a strain to argue that Death from that series is my favorite literary character of all time. She is wise, responsible, mature, and even fun-loving; she understands the value of life and the role she plays. She doesn't take people with joy or with malice, but rather with love, helping them to pass on to the next stage of their existence. She is beautiful and sincere, sweet and inviting, loving and motherly. In the word's of Mr. Gaiman himself, you can't help but love her.

Normally I'd be somewhat worried regarding a film being created from the works of my favorite author, but recently Hollywood has been doing a decent job with it, Lord of the Rings being of course the most monumental. Still, this project I cannot help but be giddy about. Not only is it based on my favorite character from my favorite series by my favorite author, it's also being written and directed by him. Of course, Neil Gaiman is a writer and not a film director by trade and profession, so, being the brilliant man he is, he took it upon himself to learn from a man who is one of my favorite Hollywood directors: Guillermo del Toro. What this means is that there is a movie in production about my favorite character, written and directed by my favorite author, and executively produced by one of my favorite directors.

He's directing The Hobbit

I can't think of many films I've had this much giddiness for. Part of me feels this will probably never see the light of production since Guillermo del Toro is currently working on two films based on J.R.R. Tokien's The Hobbit and as such will not have much time for yet another film, and I doubt Death and Me will take precedence over such a grandiose project as The Hobbit. I can't argue with this since The Hobbit is one of my favorite novels after all, having read it every year I was in school from 3rd grade through my sophomore year of college.

It's one thing to be excited for a film coming out. It's another to be excited for a film based on a book you love. It's yet further still to be excited for a film based on a book you love by a director you adore. Words cannot express the joy and anticipation coursing through my veins at the thought of a movie based a book about a character I love, written and directed by a man I venerate and produced by a man I respect so greatly.

If this film is actually made, I will be at the very first showing of Death and Me.
I find myself wondering about humanity. Their attitude to my sister's gift is so strange. Why do they fear the sunless lands? It is as natural to die as it is to be born. But they fear her. Dread her. Feebly they attempt to placate her. They do not love her.

Many thousands of years ago I heard a song in a dream, a mortal song that celebrated her gift. I still remember it... That forgotten poet understood her gifts. My sister has a function to perform, even as I do. The Endless have their responsibilities. I have responsibilities.

I walk by her side and the darkness lifts from my soul. I walk with her, and I hear the gentle beating of mighty wings...

~Dream, Death's younger brother, from The Sandman #8: The Sound of Her Wings, by Neil Gaiman


Brooke said...

Wow. I can completely understand where you are coming from on this. Your description of his work makes me want to read them as well. Where would you suggest that I start? Always looking for a good story.

Tim said...

Depending on what you're looking for there are four places to start:

If you want a solid novel, American Gods would be my recommendation.

If you want something a bit easier to begin with, less dense in terms of mythology and grandeur, Neverwhere would be very good. It's similar to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in how the world just exists; no real explanation for how or why.

If you're open to the idea of graphic novels, I cannot recommend The Sandman series enough. I myself am only halfway through it but it continues to amaze me with each issue I read.

If you want something light and quick to read, I'm currently reading Coraline as I said in the post and it is again similar to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland only with a darker feel. It's written for all ages so it's a much quicker and simpler read, but still delightful and engaging.

I own all of them if you're interested in looking through them.

Tim said...

Oh, and if you'd like a very comedic, lighthearted book, Good Omens is an excellent choice.

At this point I might as well just say ANYTHING by him is a good place to start since I've recommended everything of his I've read so far.