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Gaiman v. Rowling

It's an interesting juxtaposition reading both the new Harry Potter and The Kindly Ones at the same time.

gaiman_sandman_kindly.gifWhen I was younger I wrote many stories of other worlds; worlds we can't see but yet have an impact on our world. In some of my stories, characters flitted back and forth between both worlds, much like Harry Potter. In some stories, the other world consisted of beings that controlled part of our lives, as in The Kindly Ones.

I prefer the writing of Gaiman to the writing of Rowling. Gaiman writes with a flourish and with a style that bespeaks of the world in which his charaters live. Rowling, at least in the latest book, writes almost as if in a hurry - basic use of style that exists just to move the story on.

The quaintness of the first book has all but vanished; it slowly diminished with each successive title. That's not to say I'm not enjoying the book, I am. Not because it is a great literary read, no. My enjoyment has more to do with the expectations and anticipation that comes from reading the four books before this one, from just wanting to know where the characters end up.

With Gaiman's dream world, I am taken to a place that makes me feel the pull of the magic; I want to be there. I want to eavesdrop on Death or Destiny or visit that great library. With Potter, that feeling has diminished. I no longer feel the pull of the Great Hall or a Quidditch match. I am reading as a means to an end, to find out what happens. In the world of Gaiman v. Rowling, it's storytelling v. plot mechanisms.

They both deal with extraordinary powers and the supernatural and I suppose that's where the similarities end. Yet I find myself ultimately comparing the two, and I come up with the end result that Gaiman can, in just a few panels, tell a far more fascinating, complex and moving story than Rowling can in over 500 pages. Gaiman is story teller. Rowling is a story mover.

When all is said and done and I finally read the last word of Potter, I'm sure I will be satisfied that the hours I spent reading the book were hours well spent. After reading four books before it, you have the desire to plunge on through the new pages to find out what happens to your friends - and of course they are your friends if you've followed along this far. However, it's not re-readable. I'll put it on the shelf when I'm done, with the four that came before it, but I won't just pick it up again some day to start over again.

I'd read The Kindly Ones, and anything by Gaiman for that matter (and especially Stardust) again and again because so much lies underneath the words, as if there are stories buried under the stories. Gaiman's words are at once beautiful and frightening and that's what separates him from those who have not learned that the crafts of story telliing and writing are two entirely different things.


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I'd LOVE to see another project with Pratchett (my favorite author) and Gaiman... they complement each other well...

I know what you mean about Gaiman, I get the feeling that if I looked away from the action "on screen" to take a look behind me, I'd see the rest of the world just stretching out. Kinda like in a movie when you get a sort of panoramic sense that if you looked away from the troops storming Omaha Beach you'd see the next few waves coming, and the carriers behind them... Did that make sense or should I go get my meds?

I just finished reading Stardust night before last. I'm with you, he is an amazing writer who brings it all to life. His talent is a rare one. Stardust actually made my week better.

By the weirdest bit of good luck one day, I got a flat tire as I was driving into work, (Not the lucky part) and had to stop at a shop to get it repaired. While I was waiting on it, I wandered into the bookstore next door, looking for some more Gaiman to read (I'd just finished Neverwhere). Lo and Behold, Stardust had just come out, and there were several copies hardcover copies available. I grabbed one, opened the inside page to check the copyright date and see if it was a first edition, and not only was it a first, Neil Gaiman had signed the damn thing!

I asked one of the store employees if it was a joke or something, but they said, no, Gaiman had actually been in the store the other day for a book signing, and had left some signed copies behind on the shelf. So now I have a signed first edition copy of Stardust. :)

I have long said that if Rowlings would simply tighten up her writing and elimnate the reliance on adverbs, she could give her story more weight and punch and perhaps interweave a few more "red herrings" and information about her other characters. But that would be tailoring the story for adult tastes, rather than children.

Still, I know of quite a few other "children's" books (The Hobbit, Wrinkle in Time, Chronicles of Narnia) that don't employ such a haphazard method of writing. I think Rowlings has definite wit and talent in that she does not patronize either the child or the adult, but every time I read the books, I keep thinking the writing technique could have been more concise.

Tough to top his short story Snow, Glass, Apples. Quite an interesting take on the Snow White tale.

I've actually enjoyed the latest Potter book, even though alot of what I thought would happen in book 5 didn't happen.

On the other side, Curse you for making me go buy another book to read... now I have to go out and buy Stardust.

It's a good thing I actually budget for emergency book purchases.

Although I never really got into Sandman, and I didn't enjoy American Gods, Stardust is one of my all-time favourites. I quite like Neverwhere, Coraline and Good Omens too. But Stardust is just wonderful, a lovely little Dunsanian tale that's a pure pleasure to read.

The great thing about Rowling, and the blessing to our society, is that she's got kids who wouldn't touch a book in the pre-Potter era devouring five hundred page tomes.