The Trouble With Neil Gaiman

coralineOkay, here’s the thing: I’ve never believed a single word Neil Gaiman has written.

Wow.

I can already detect a collective gnashing of teeth as Gaiman’s legion of fans leap to his defense, their counter-attack, predictably, hysterical, vitriolic and ad hominem. Shoot the messenger and deal with the actual, y’know, message later.

I know what I’ve just said might seem a tad critical and extreme at first glance but, as my hero Bill Hicks would say, hear me out.

Clearly, Neil Gaiman is effective at what he does. He sells a ton of books, has earned a bevy of prizes and a significant number of people await each new Gaiman release with genuine pleasure and anticipation.

All to the good.

And speaking for myself, I’ve found Gaiman’s stuff, for the most part, diverting, and he writes in a straightforward, unpretentious style. But upon opening any Neil Gaiman offering I’m immediately struck by the realization that this is not a tale set on Earth Prime—there is an unworldly feel to the material. Indeed, nearly everything I’ve read by the man distinguishes him as someone who, in one way or another, is a purveyor of modern day fairy tales and moral fables. But no one truly believes fairy tales or thinks they have any basis in reality. Do they?

And therein lies the problem.

That lack of credibility produces, I would argue, an emotional distance, a safety margin from which readers can observe the action without being unduly concerned with the fate of the characters. When your audience is granted that kind of dispensation, they stop closely identifying with the people at the heart of the story, stop caring. A potentially gripping yarn becomes merely entertaining. Good, escapist fun.

Doesn’t that pretty much sum up the Gaiman oeuvre?

While he tells a decent story, there’s not the kind of intimacy and closely observed detail that ramps up our emotional investment to another level. Think of the work of masters of the macabre Richard Matheson or Charles Beaumont. They frequently dealt with fantastic subject matter but in their best efforts (see: “Matheson’s “Mute” or Hell House) there is an unnerving sense that this creepy account could be real…and our concern for what the characters are enduring becomes all the more genuine and heartfelt.

Give him credit, Neil Gaiman is conversant with contemporary cultural touchstones, borrowing shamelessly from mythology (Old Gods and Sandman) or re-imagining familiar standards (Coraline). But, to me, none of his work succeeds at suspending disbelief. And while I see a lot of archetypes—vampires, werewolves, ghosts, the usual suspects—I don’t, frankly, detect much innovation or originality. Tropes and stock monsters, employed in a standard story arc, with (almost invariably) happy, satisfying resolutions. Gaiman’s approach to writing is quick, punchy, visual; perfect for graphic novels. Illustrative but not particularly deep or insightful. His characters speedily sketched, unceremoniously thrust into peril, even mortal danger.

There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife…

(First line of Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book)

Ah, yes, The Graveyard Book. In that 2008 novel Gaiman presents us with the story of a young human child raised in a cemetery by a variety of well-meaning ghosts and supernatural creatures. Clever, but by Page 50 my interest in the central character, Bod, was purely academic: how would he be successfully re-integrated into human society? The rest of the book zipped past in a blur.

Likewise, I was almost immediately turned off by The Ocean at the End of the Lane. A more recent effort (2013), it’s told (mostly) from the point of view of a child whose observations are so mature and thoughtful as to defy credulity. I disliked the book from its initial pages and it never really caught on with me. Finished it out of a sense of obligation, not joy.

It strikes me that Neil Gaiman is a perfect author for our sped up, ADHD-afflicted society. He writes moderately well, with visual acumen, setting the table quickly, not bothering with niceties like realism or verisimilitude. His fans will say I’m being unfair—after all, with fairy tales the effect is more important than the nuts and bolts of narrative (and perhaps they’re right).

But there’s a fine line in dark fantasy and horror literature, a point where the author must create the impression that what we’re reading is actually taking place, expend every effort to ensure we’re fully immersed in the story, crying and bleeding along with the protagonist, experiencing their dread as the knob starts turning, the door inching open. If we have no faith in their ordeal, no stake in what’s happening to them, the writer has failed us, failed to devise a scenario that is, at once, dramatic and nerve-rending and, despite our best efforts to think otherwise, believable and authentic.

Personal, intimate horror. What really goes on in the dark.

That’s what scares us and leaves a permanent mark on our psyche.

Fairy tales are fine for children, but surely adults require narratives of more depth—aesthetically sound and literate and, at the same time, unrelenting and provocative, seeking to exact an emotional toll, while defying and frustrating expectations.

It’s time Neil Gaiman started writing for grownups.

People old enough to know that in life there are no happy endings…and no such thing as a great artist who stoops to please.

figure

21 comments

  1. Cliff Burns

    Great question—talk about putting me on the spot.

    My wife is a great fan of mythology and she thought I was selling fairy tales short in my Gaiman critique. She’s probably right.

    But what, historically and culturally, is the role of a fairy tale or fable? Aren’t they cautionary stories, anecdotal examples of what happens if you stray into the woods or talk to strangers or allow wolves to carry your basket? The characters are, often, archetypes, the little boy or girl devoid of all but the most basic physical features and background, thrust into peril because of circumstances (jealous stepmother/cruel queen) or bad choices (wandered from path) and are forced to deal with the consequences or come up with some clever plan to extricate themselves.

    It seems like mighty familiar terrain to me—I prefer a less well-beaten track.

    I enjoy Grimm’s Fairy Tales and creation myths and tales told around the campfire…but do they represent great literature? Do they involve us to the extent that a well-plotted, well-executed literary novel or short story does? Don’t they follow a pre-ordained path to a responsible (predictable) conclusion?

    A fairy tale imparting a lesson to an adult? I’m not so sure. I suppose a moral fable can serve as a lesson, regardless of your age.

    I’m not saying great fantasy/horror (or SF) has to be realistic but I do insist it be believable. There’s a distinction.

    Is that helpful?

  2. aspirationsofflight

    That’s an interesting perspective. I hadn’t really thought of it that way, but it does make sense. I think we can still learn from the classics because they have certain ‘truths’ to impart that can resonate with a lot of people, and I do think they can be more complicated than they first appear (depending).

    I do like where you’re going with a more complex literary scene. I think certain tales we’re used to end up woven into the more complex stories we read and create today, and some literature that we read and write today still has many aspects ‘we’ struggled with so long ago.

    Okay, I can agree with your distinction. That does make sense to me, and I do agree – it’s frustrating when I’m reading something I can’t believe or get into. And I have a very active imagination that can pretty much put me anywhere.

  3. Cliff Burns

    Thanks for the measured response and for giving fair consideration to what I said.

    So far I haven’t gotten the kind of vitriolic reaction from Neil Gaiman’s fans as I would expect—but, what the heck, it’s still early in the day.

    Keeping seeking out great literature—whatever the genre—and pop by here any ol’ time.

  4. Sue Coffman

    I found your piece very interesting, and I see your point with respect to Neil Gaiman’s work, and perhaps other writers such as Jonathan Carroll, William Browning Spencer, etc. However, it may also be a reading viewpoint issue. I find Neil Gaiman’s novels and stories wonderfully involving, but you made me consider that in terms of what I as a reader bring to the table. I love dark fantasy, modern urban fantasy, magic realism, etc. and have never had difficulty getting deeply imbedded in a well-told, well-written story in my favorite genres/by my favorite authors – while bringing along my own pre-conceptions and my familiarity with the structure of fairy tales and fantasy. However, I find that when I read most science fiction, for example, there is a remove; often there isn’t enough emotional depth (or at least I don’t PERCEIVE an emotional depth) to the novels I’ve sampled. Obviously, that issue stems in part from my own perceptions as a reader.

    This may not be true for most readers, but you made me realize that it’s true for me. You’ve made me think it’s time to go back and try more writers/books outside my comfort zone. I appreciate your viewpoint, thanks for making me think about the whole issue!

  5. Cliff Burns

    Really impressed, Sue.

    Finding a novel or short story “involving” is one thing but I believe re: fantastic tales there is a risk of being emotionally detached from events happening to characters and, thus, that work has less impact and, in my view, less power and intensity. Consciously (or unconsciously) I think we all realize that children can’t be raised by ghosts, the Sandman isn’t real, etc. There’s that safety margin I alluded to and it supplies us with a comfort zone where we can be entertained and intrigued by a tale without paying any heavy emotional price.

    But I must allow that not all readers seek the kind of literate, authentic, searing work I enjoy (and that I tend to write). Many people want their entertainment value and escapism, which is fine. But that does not constitute great literature and too many people equate a book they like, that keeps the pages turning, with great Art. But Art doesn’t truckle or offer happy endings or reinforce preconceptions and expectations. It eradicates safe ground and forces us to confront unpleasantness, despair, horror, hopelessness, ecstasy with no filters and no way of protecting ourselves.

    I just finished reading a story by David Means, “A River in Egypt”, that really put me through the ringer. He does not spare the reader and as a result that tale will resonate with me for years to come.

    I share your view on science fiction, by the way. Too few SF authors focus on character—they’re more interested in exploring some cool idea, more comfortable with technology and gadgets than they are the sticky, sweaty reality of being human. I wrote about it here.

    Thanks for coming by and contributing to the discussion. Your note was a gem.

  6. The Failed Academic

    Totally agree. His short story “I Cthulhu” is a case in point. Much as the Lovecraftian homage has been done to death, this story takes that one step further, rendering Cthulhu in a cartoonish, completely cynical and satirical way that de-mystifies everything about the Mythos. It’s not even that this is a bad thing, but it goes all the way towards sapping any of the emotional content out of this iconic genre.

    For those who are curious about the story in question:

    http://www.neilgaiman.com/p/Cool_Stuff/Short_Stories/I_Cthulhu

  7. Colum Paget

    I’m not a great fan of Neil Gaiman myself, I’ve read some of his stuff and thought it was pretty good, but it wasn’t for me, it’s not my taste. However, I have to disagree with your argument here.

    # But no one truly believes fairy tales or thinks they have any basis in reality.
    # Do they?

    #And therein lies the problem.

    # That lack of credibility produces, I would argue, an emotional distance,
    # a safety margin from which readers can observe the action without being
    # unduly concerned with the fate of the characters.

    I agree with what ‘asperationsoflight’ said about this, only more so. This argument doesn’t just apply to all SF/Fantasy/Horror, it applies to all fiction.

    Fiction is made up, and the reader/viewer knows it’s made up, and yes, this does create a degree of distance. If a viewer thought the things they were seeing on the cinema screen were real, they’d quite often rush the screen to intervene, or they’d flee the cinema, or they’d phone the police. We don’t, so there is a degree of distance.

    However, this distancing effect is not unique to Neil Gaiman, and it’s not unique to fairy tales. It applies to every fiction that was ever written. SF, Romance, Crime, Fantasy, Horror, Mythology, War Fiction, Literary Fiction, uncle-tom-cobley-and all. Simply holding a book in your hand creates a massive sense of distance. People know the stuff they’re reading isn’t real, and many people view SF as being a form of fariy tale anyway (much of the most popular SF, like Star Wars and most of Dr Who, is).

    If we were to go through science-fiction, and remove all the elements that don’t have ‘any basis in reality’ (time travel, faster than light travel, socialist utopias, aliens similar enough to us that we can cross-breed with them, laser-swords, monsters taller than skyscrapers, telepathy/telekenesis/clairvoyance, etc, etc) how much would survive the cull? But does the fact that much of SF has no basis in reality and no-one in their right mind truely believes in it, have any effect on the reader that’s different from reading, say, an historical romance? I don’t think it does.

    # When your audience is granted that kind of dispensation, they stop
    # closely identifying with the people at the heart of the story, stop caring.
    # A potentially gripping yarn becomes merely entertaining. Good,
    # escapist fun.

    I’m afraid this statement is false, and is easily proved false. Go to a cinema and buy a ticket for a GOOD horror movie, a GOOD weepie, and a GOOD comedy. Then, as the film progresses, look about you at the people in the room.

    I remember as a child going to see ET, and at some point in the drama looking around and realizing my father had tears on his face. Sounds ridiculous now, but the impact of movies when they are freshly released and first seen is hard to remember when they’ve been copied, satirized, and watched over and over on DVD.

    Neverthless, you can see in the cinema that there are movies that make people fearful in a way that stays with them for days, or the have them in tears, or that make them angry. Yet, they clearly know that the things they’re seeing a fictions and do not believe in them, or they wouldn’t just sit there watching. But they still engage with them emotionally and care enough to exhibit clear physiological responses of joy or distress.

    # there is an unnerving sense that this creepy account could be real

    I’m not familar with the particular books you cite, but at no point did I think “I am Legend” could be real….

    # and our concern for what the characters are enduring becomes all the
    # more genuine and heartfelt.

    Some SF definitely *could* be real, in the sense that events like those described could happen. However, I don’t find myself engaging more with the characters in those stories than in, say, Lord of The Rings.

    # Fairy tales are fine for children, but surely adults require narratives
    # of more depth

    Woah! That’s a big statement. Fairy tales are classics that have survived down the ages, I wouldn’t compare them to 20th century fictions that are likely going to be dead and forgotten in a couple of decades. This smacks a bit of the standard “my genre is better than your genre” trope that we see so often. We’ve all seen this expressed in forms like:

    “Science fiction is fine for children, but surely adults require narratives of more depth”

    The speaker in such situations is normally misunderstanding the form they’re criticising.

  8. Colum Paget

    #A potentially gripping yarn becomes merely entertaining. Good, escapist fun.

    # Its time Neil Gaiman started writing for grownups.

    # People old enough to know that in life there are no happy endings
    # and no such thing as a great artist who stoops to please.

    Firstly ‘grown ups’ are not a homogenous block who all require the same thing from a work of fiction. Everyone comes to fiction with their own personal history and own personal microculture. Things that have significance to one person will not have the same significance to another, because the second person hasn’t lived through the same formative experience as the first. We see this very clearly along the time axis: It’s almost impossible for someone born in the 21st century to understand what it would be like for a medieval european to read something that posited a universe without god, or what it was like to be a Gen-Xer reading Neuromancer in the ’80s. But the same applies along every dimension that makes one human being different from another.

    There’s at least one person of our mutual aquaintance who appears to believe that there are objective, even platonic, standards of literary quality. If they were ever to achieve tyrannical power we should surely all find ourselves in a hellish Orwellian dystopia in which everyone was forced to read Gwyneth Jones and listen to extreme doom metal for their own good. I’ve nothing against the writing of Gwyneth Jones, or metal music, I’m absolutely sure that both bring joy and meaning to some people’s lives. But they won’t bring joy and meaning to *everyone’s* lives. Thus if there’s a writer who doesn’t “do it” for you, that’s not a problem or a trouble with the writer, that’s a side-effect of human diversity. Equally the fact that there are people who are left completely cold by the work of our favorite writers is something we must accept as just being the natural order of things: they have not lived the same lives as us, and thus do not respond to the same references and constructions as we do, and we shouldn’t wish them to.

    The problem with statements about Gaiman being ‘mere entertainment’, is that there’s a lot of people who need entertainment. There’s a lot of people who are struggling through life for one reason or another, be it poverty or personal issues, and entertainment allows them escape from their daily experience. Stories with happy endings allow them to believe that things can turn out well, and through these stories they arguably get a taste of a positive result that might be lacking in their own lives.

    The desire for ‘tough fiction’ is very much a need of the better-off (‘better-off’ here can mean many things, it doesn’t necessarily mean ‘rich’, but it means those who are generally getting positive outcomes in life). It’s claimed that “In the nineteenth century everyone, from Queen Victoria to the street sweepers, either read Dickens or had Dickens read to them.”, but I have my doubts about that. Firstly, how do we know this? Who did a survey of *everyone* and found they’d all read Dickens? Secondly I suspect that people living in the squalor of Dickensian London would not generally want to read Dicken’s portrayal of their own lives. If you’re in a poorhouse, you don’t want to read a story about someone in a poorhouse, you want to read about someone in a castle. If you’re in a Gulag I’m not sure you’d appreciate Solzhenitsyn. Also those in poorhouses would likely be blocked from Dickens by illiteracy and the cost of print. Their fiction would have been an oral, folklorish tradition with happy endings (which I suspect has been completely lost to us because industrial Britain didn’t have a Brothers Grim). For the working class, fiction has often been about presenting them with a glimpse of those things in life that they are shut out from, it’s very much been about escapism, because they have an experience that they want to escape. The true audience for Dickens would have been the better-off classes, whom, if we were unkind, we could accuse of a kind of ‘class tourism’ through reading (I don’t agree with that myself, I think it’s important for we who are better off to have some connection, through fiction and through the news, with those who are less lucky, otherwise we become Marie Antoinettes, but it’s the style of argument I often encounter).

    ‘Good escapist fun’ is not somehow a lesser form. ‘Mere entertainment’ is sometimes what gets people through the day. Fairy tales are the remainder of a folkloric tradition created by peasants and workers to put a little pep into lives that were probably rather dreary. Whilst it’s important for people to have fiction that illuminates difficult and profound topics, it’s also important to have fiction that lifts people out of their daily condition and puts a spring in their step. These are not comparable forms, you can’t say that ‘grown-up’ fiction is superior to fairy tales, anymore than a screwdriver is superior to a hammer. They are different forms that serve different purposes to different groups of people.

    If Mr Gaiman is working in a more folkloric tradition, then that’s fair enough, that’s his choice. It may not be my taste, but I accept that it’s some people’s taste, and some people’s need. Saying that he should ‘start writing for grown-ups’ is more than a little insulting to Mr Gaiman’s readers, and is likely very bad advice. Mr Gaiman has found a formula that works for thousands of people, bringing pleasure both to them as readers and likely to him as a writer too. When you’ve found a seam of gold like that, you should likely keep mining it, and ignore the advice of people who tell you that you should be digging elsewhere.

    Why is it such a ‘trouble’ and a problem to find a writer that doesn’t work for you, and to discover that this writer is popular? Do you lie awake at night ‘troubled’ that E L James is shifting mountains of copy and that Danielle Steel and Stephen King are still pumping out slabs of fiction as fast as thier legions of fans can devour it? If Gaiman doesn’t suit your tastes, other writers are available, it makes more sense to switch to someone who is more aligned to your personal aesthetics than to demand Mr Gaiman changes his own. If you really cannot find anything that fits your personal tastes, then it’s likely you have identified a gap in the market, and you should hotfoot it to a keyboard and commence writing into that gap as fast as you can, before anyone else spots it. I cannot guarentee that fame and fortune will acrue to you as a result, but you never know.

  9. Colum Paget

    # But I must allow that not all readers seek the kind of literate, authentic,
    # searing work I enjoy (and that I tend to write). Many people want their
    # entertainment value and escapism, which is fine. But that does not
    # constitute great literature and too many people equate a book they like,
    # that keeps the pages turning, with great Art. But Art doesnt truckle or
    # offer happy endings or reinforce preconceptions and expectations. It
    # eradicates safe ground and forces us to confront unpleasantness,
    # despair, horror, hopelessness, ecstasy with no filters and no way of
    # protecting ourselves.

    As I said above, this stuff is not ‘great art’. This is the art of the priviledged class. It’s called ‘great art’ down the ages because that class gets to decide what’s great art. I’m not saying it’s without value, and I’m not saying that much of it isn’t “Great art”, I’m saying that what you’ve advanced here is not a defintion of great art, it’s a definition of art for the priviledged. Some of it is very valuable precisely because it puts people in touch with harsh realities that they are protected from by their station.

    However, for the countless people *actually living in* unpleasantness, despair, horror and hopelessness, with no filters or way of protecting themselves, this is not something they need at all. If you’re currently in a Syrian refugee camp, you don’t need to read about someone in a Syrian refugee camp: it’s only people in safe, comparatively wealthy societies that need to read that stuff. By declaring this to be ‘great art’ you dismiss the huge output of common people down the ages, most of which was focused on good tales, well told, with uplifting endings, because that’s what they needed. Shakespeare’s comedies are not generally considered to be ‘searing’. Are they not great art? Should we throw them out and only keep his tragedies?

    ‘Great art’ at the end of the day, is just code for ‘stuff I like’. Others will cite other things as being ‘Great art’. We all know there are plenty of people out there who will declare that fantastic fiction is incapable of being great art, and will advance all kinds of arguments to support it, but really they’re just saying that they don’t like fantastic fiction and cannot understand how others do.

  10. Colum Paget

    # So far I havent gotten the kind of vitriolic reaction from Neil Gaimans fans
    # as I would expect but, what the heck, its still early in the day.

    Yeah, disappointing isn’t it? Here you are trying to pick a fight with someone, and they’re not rising to it. One would have thought that among Gaiman’s untold thousands of fans there’d be at least one swivel-eyed loony capable of firing off a good death-threat.

    But perhaps the problem is that you’re not being aggressive and contraversial enough? After all, under all this talk of ‘searing great art’, there’s really just the statement that there are things you like, and things other people like, and that the two don’t marry up. This argument about what consitutes ‘Great Art’ has been going on since we were scratching shapes on the walls of caves (“My bison is edgier than your bison”) and will still be in progress when the Sun goes out, without anyone proving anything of substance.

    If you want to get a rise out of the Gaiman massive you’ll have to get more down and dirty and in-their-face. You need to hit them where it hurts. You need to diss their boy in a way that cannot be allowed to stand.

    I suggest you announce that your favorite writer can beat up their favorite writer in bareknuckle streetfight any day of the week, with one hand tied behind their back.

    That should get a reaction.

  11. Cliff Burns

    Colum:

    I absolutely refute the notion that I was trying to “pick a fight with someone”.

    My mini-essay on Gaiman has been percolating in my mind for some time and I’ve discussed various aspects of it with colleagues and folks I know (including a number who love everything Gaiman’s ever committed to paper). “The Trouble With Neil Gaiman” was a distillation of those conversations. I forwarded the piece to Gaiman personally, not because I was trying to diss him, but in order to allow him (and his supporters) to have their say—it was a courtesy, not a challenge and I must say he responded with tact and restraint. Good on him.

    Of course, you can choose to believe my motives were less than pure. However, for the record, I am not (as some might opine) jealous of Gaiman’s 1) talent 2) fame 3) money. We’re very different writers and while I think he’s a skilled craftsman, I also believe he expends too much effort pleasing and reassuring his readers, rather than putting them through the emotional and spiritual wringer. Not one of his stories or novels has the power of the David Means story I previously cited.

    My current favorite writer is James Crumley and although he has, unfortunately, shuffled off this mortal coil, I have no doubt he could easily handle most contemporary authors in a bareknuckle bout. He also, by the way, could out drink, out fuck and out write any you would care to name. He never manufactured a happy ending in his life or kowtowed to expectation. That’s what makes his prose so magnificent, unprecedented and inimitable.

    Thanks for your missives, your thoughts and your passion for the subject. I like people who get fired up. It shows they’re worthy of serious consideration…and reflection.

  12. Colum Paget

    # Of course, you can choose to believe my motives were less than pure.

    It’s nothing personal. I think that of most of the human race.

    # However, for the record, I am not (as some might opine) jealous of
    # Gaimans 1) talent 2) fame 3) money.

    For the record, I never said that! But I know what you’re saying, THEY probably would (you know… THEM). But I wasn’t accusing you of that. I was accusing you of underestimating the variety of uses to which fiction can be put, and saying that Mr Gaiman puts his fiction to different uses.

    # Were very different writers and while I think hes a skilled craftsman, I also
    # believe he expends too much effort pleasing and reassuring his readers,
    # rather than putting them through the emotional and spiritual wringer.

    My point is that not everyone needs to be put through the emotional and spiritual ringer. Some are going through that in real life, they don’t need it in thier fiction. I wouldn’t be handing out spiritually ‘wringing’ fiction to kids fleeing from Kobane right now, I’d give them something that tells them there’s always hope that the world can be made right, and that leads them to dream bigger dreams than their current situation would allow them to foresee. Fiction serves different purposes for different people and different classes, and the need to be ’emotionally wrung’ is very much a fetish of the middle and upper classes.

    # Not one of his stories or novels has the power of the David Means
    # story I previously cited.

    At the top you said you weren’t trying to diss him or pick a fight with his fans, but this line could only be better for that purpose if you’d rapped it. 😉

    # My current favorite writer is James Crumley and although he has,
    # unfortunately, shuffled off this mortal coil, I have no doubt he could
    # easily handle most contemporary authors in a bareknuckle bout.

    OMG!! THE GAUNTLET IS LAID DOWN!!!!! Sir, I shouldn’ta doubted you, I was going for “could beat your boy with one hand tied behind their back”, but it never occurred to me that we could take things as far as “could beat your boy while CURRENTLY DEAD!!!” This is truely genius!

    Hang on, I gotta get some popcorn for when it kicks off!

    Colum

  13. slappidappydingleberry

    I entirely agree that he does nothing special and gets WAY too much credit for it. What he seems to do well is tap into that mindset that a lot of people tend to exercise at the end of a day working whatever boring jobs they may be working. It’s a real niche market (it’s not a niche at all).

    What I will say in his benefit (barring I haven’t gone through all the previous posts because computators hurt the eyes on this guy) is that when he writes children, it’s like he’s doing that to make a point. It seems to me, not that he absolutely believes children or youth to be the smartest books on the shelves, but, rather, that they are capable of intelligence and understanding complexities far greater than they are given as their due.

    But yes, I think it’s about time people started realizing his lack of greatness. I’ve been recommended “Good Omens” so many times that I’m starting to wonder if his readers just accept whatever he’s written. It’s a flaw to do that people! Imagine if Norman Mailer’s fans did that! Goddamn goofery is what it would be.

  14. Cliff Burns

    The young adult marketplace is probably Gaiman’s proper domain. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, YA fiction has gotten much, much better in the past 10-15 years. It’s not my cup of poison but I’ll leave him to it.

  15. David28

    Why do you say that in life there are no happy endings? I’m sorry you’ve had such an unhappy life, but that doesn’t mean your experience is universal.

  16. Cliff Burns

    David, I wrote a lengthy piece explaining my views on what I find lacking in Mr. Gaiman’s novels.

    I appreciate your response but I do wish you’d re-read my essay, in depth, and formulate a more thoughtful and insightful response.

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