I can’t believe we’re already to the third week of the read-a-long! Even though it’s only a once a week post, I feel like the book is just flying by! This week’s stories are “Going Wodwo”, “Bitter Grounds”, “Other People”, and “Keepsakes and Treasures”. All in all, while this wasn’t my favorite week, I had more hits than misses.
I loved thus piece of poetry! DEFINITELY more than “The Hidden Chamber” and slightly more than “The Fairy Reel”. First and foremost, the poem totally appeals to my love for nature, and the fact that I love sensuous language and imagery in a piece of poetry. I mean, I was literally lingering in images like “I’ll tell the wind my name, and no one else./True madness takes us or leaves us in the wood/half-way through all our lives”. The introduction says that Neil wrote this one for a collection on The Green Man, and while I don’t actually know about that character specifically, Gaiman made magic for me in this poem!
I also think that the poem made some important claims about the importance of nature versus civilization. The fact that, discarding everything from his civilized life (“Shedding my shirt, my book, me coat, my life”) he is able to find the place where he belongs (“I’ll find a tree as wide as ten fat men/Clear water rilling over it’s grey roots/Berries I’ll find, and crabapples and nuts,/And call it home.”) is an incredibly important and an incredibly message to me. Not only do I think that God gave us all the answers and hope we need in the world around us, but I believe it’s up to us to protect and be stewards of our planet. Needless to say, Gaiman got major points from me for this one!! 😀
For as much as I was totally enamored with “Going Wodwo”, I was equally as disappointed with “Bitter Grounds”. This, I think, was for multiple reasons. One, I don’t think I understand it. I read it three times and still. I mean, I understand the progression if the plot, but I just don’t get it. Zombies, right? Like, that’s the whole thing with all of it in the end – he runs off and joins the land of the zombies? Or he was a zombie the whole time? See? No idea. The second reason most likely largely pertains to the fact that I was just not jiving with any of the characters. And I mean, like, any of them. It makes it much harder to invest in understanding the story when you don’t care to spend any more time with your protagonist.
That being said, I do think that there were the occasional scary moments throughout the story. When the fake Jackson Anderton returns to the site of the tow truck and finds the car door open, the back window open, and no one in sight, I will admit that I got a little freaked out. And hearing the story of the little zombie girls was a bit…off. But, do those two moments balance out the difficulty of the rest of the story? No way. This one was definitely a thumbs-down for me.
OH. MY. GOODNESS. This story packed so much punch in to it’s three and a half pages was ridiculous. It sucked me in from it’s first line: “‘Time is fluid here,’ said the demon.” I mean, dang y’all. This story was intense. Gaiman’s progression from physical to mental torture, followed by the ultimate transformation into the demon himself is an example of prime narrative structure. I can’t express enough how much I love the concept behind this story, too.
Anyone who has been following my R.I.P. reviews knows that I think that the scariest thugs in the world aren’t supernatural. They’re the things human beings can do to one another. I feel like Gaiman hits this nail so firmly on the head, it hurts:
“Everything he had ever done that had been better left undone. Every lie he had ever told – told to himself, or told to others. Every little hurt, and all the great hurts. Each one was pulled out of him, detail by detail, inch by inch. The demon stripped away the cover of forgetfulness, stripped everything down to truth, and it hurt more than anything.”
All I know is that that sounds like a pretty apt description of hell to me. Another win for Gaiman!
“Keepsakes and Treasures”
I’m not sure how many of those in the read-a-long are going to like this story. But I liked it. I won’t say I love it, because it’s hard to love something so…graphic and, ultimately, sad. But I do think that Gaiman did a great job creating an unlikeable character who I actually kind of liked!
I guess ‘liked’ shouldn’t be the word I use. I don’t really like Mr. Smith, per say, but I think part of me can understand why he is the way he is, given the past and history he comes from. I can sympathize, I guess. And, as disgusting and sad as their work is, I’m glad that these two despicable men were able to find a kind of home and family in one another. Plus, who doesn’t love the idea of a culture made of all women and few men, even if the goal is inky to shelter this one man into perfect, beautiful adulthood! Gaiman also says we’re going to see both Mr. Smith and Mr. Alice again in a later story, so I can’t wait to see how that one might change my opinion if these characters and their story!
Well, folks, that’s all for this leg of the read-a-long! If you’re reading along as well, I hope you were able to enjoy these stories as much as I did. If you’re not, I hope that whatever you’re reading is keeping you up at night with it’s brilliance! Now, I’m off with FBM to our new church home for a good time of food and fellowship (PS: we finally found a new church home! Yay! Hehe) so, I leave you all with peasant reading wishes and autumn dreams!