Monday, June 21, 2004
Guess who's got a haircut today?
Gaiman's "Neverwhere" was a fun read. With Gaiman you play the game of "spot-the-myth" as he throws in elements of familiar old stories in an interesting plot of his own. The "melting plot," so to speak. Let's see... Alice in Wonderland, though London below is much darker and more dangerous; the Marquis of Carabas is a common pen name derived from "Puss in Boots;" Mayhew undertakes a spirit walk with the prerequisite spirit guide; and there's even a unsubtle reference to the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ, though the Marquis can hardly be considered "Christ-like." Messrs Croup and Vandemar, Victorian assassins, are dangerously humorous, displaying intelligence, ironic wit and a sense of pride in their own malevolence, akin to that of Jack the Ripper. There is a sort of Blyton's "Magic Faraway Tree" likeness to the Floating Market; and Perseus' labyrinth is guarded by a centuries-old escaped pig rather than the Minotaur. London below comprises the literal manifestations of the quirky place names of London above. I may be stretching things a bit but the description of Down Street reminds me of how the impact crater looks like in Final Fantasy 7. There is also the gathering of the Fellowship as every quest requires the different abilities that each member can bring to the party (although we can only guess at what Mayhew's abilities are, "normal" as he is); the betrayal of the Fellowship (never fails); and when Mayhew returns to familiarity again he does so a la "Wizard of Oz" style.
It's great fun that Gaiman is able to take bits and pieces of all these old familiar stories and integrate them with icons of popular culture of our contemporary period although the environmant created is dangerous, chaotic and insane. Yet, it's the promise of adventure and the idea that anything's possible that make London below so much more preferable to mundane, predictable, well-planned and organised reality. At the end, the Marquis stands at the door and invites you [wow, another Biblical allusion] to come live in the realm of fantasy and chaos. Don't always take the realistic, pragmatic route but be free to choose freedom. I think that's Good Advice. We need to acknowledge that life is more chaotic than we admit and when we can do that, then things become more possible for us, and Doors open!
eeps... my book review just turned into a sermon.