Thursday, October 23, 2014
Can I get there by candlelight?
I'm somewhat surprised that when I went on my Gaiman mini-binge earlier this year I skipped reading and writing about Stardust because Stardust is one of my favorite books.
I know that I've harped on Gaiman for being kind of a one-trick pony but I still feel like that doesn't matter because it's a REALLY good trick and Stardust is probably the best book in Gaiman's whole collection of "how did I get to this magical place?" stories.
My favorite thing about the book is that it feels like it's cobbled together out of the bits and pieces of fairytales that break off in your brain and start to blend together when you're a grownup.
How many people reading this remember Mother Goose rhymes, or know all the nursery rhymes they learned growing up? None of us, I'm sure. They fade away but leave little touches of memory, like an image of a slide that a teacher showed, or a warm voice reciting from the TV on Saturday morning, or chanting in time with a jump-rope and all your friends. You don't remember they rhymes themselves, or who all the characters in all the stories were, but you remember how they made you feel and you recognize them when you see them. That's what Stardust is to me, that's how it feels to read it.
It's not written out of a real, historical mythology; it's not Faerie or the forest of the Grimms or Atlantis as any scholar would have it, it's Faerie or the forest or Atlantis as it is imagined by people who were once told that such a place was real.
I'm probably not communicating this as well as I want to but I hope you get the gist of what I'm saying, and if you don't it's enough to say that reading Stardust feels like coming home to childhood, and all the magic that I used to live in.
You should read it. You should read as much Gaiman as you can get your hands on because that's basically all he does - he hollers you home to the you you used to be.
Gaiman, Neil. Stardust. Harper Collins. New York: New York.2001. (1999)