"The Graveyard Book" is the story of a kid named Nobody who grows up in a graveyard, surrounded by ghosts who protect him from his family's murderer, a "man named Jack." Now, fifth graders doing book reports everywhere will be able to choose something other than "Johnny Tremain" and "Cry, the Beloved Country," something a little bit more magical and strange.
I'm glad that Gaiman has successfully made the complete transition from comic book writer to novelist. One of my favorite set-pieces from Gaiman's "Sandman" comic book is the library in the Dreaming where all the books that never had a chance to get written end up, books thwarted by fear, insanity, drug addiction, or an untimely death. There is a whole shelf full of lost Coleridge, for instance. I bet Gaiman's shelf is huge. Lately, however, Gaiman is plucking unwritten gems from the vault of his imagination at an alarming rate: a phenomenon which could be risky, and is always painful.
"The Graveyard Book" sounds like the kind of book I would have enjoyed when I was a kid. Ghosts make good characters in books because once they get what they want they disappear forever, not like the rest of us who must deal with the ramifications of acquired desire.
As a result of his success, Gaiman has already announced a movie deal for his fairy tale.
According to Gaiman, Neil Jordan -- Irish director of "The Butcher Boy," "Michael Collins," "Breakfast on Pluto," and "The Crying Game" -- will be directing the movie version of "The Graveyard Book."
Will "the man named Jack" be secret IRA? Or perhaps a secret lady?
Evidently, Jordan did a movie called "High Spirits" back in 1988 about Irish ghosts starring Peter O'Toole and Steve Guttenberg.
"Peter O'Toole is Peter Plunkett, the owner of a dilapidated Irish castle which acts as a bed and breakfast supplying the only employment for the local villagers. Owing money to an American businessman, Plunkett has the idea to turn the castle into "The most haunted castle in Europe" for the tourist trade. He and his wacky staff of Irish characters set about creating ghost costumes and effects for their first group of American lodgers."
Before Gaiman's narrative is burned into celluloid, I suggest you get out there and read this book as soon as you can, preferably out loud to someone young and impressionable like an NYU student.
You may only have a year or so to help them build their imagination and to fill them with their first, sad realization that "the book was better all along."
Posted by miracle on Mon, 02 Feb 2009 15:57:49 -0500 -- permanent link