There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife. The hand belonged to a man named Jack, and the knife just killed a father, a mother and a sister. It did not kill the little boy, who managed to escape to the nearby graveyard, where he was raised by the ghosts of that place, and a vampire guardian.
In each chapter, we see that the young boy — now called Nobody ‘Bod’ Owens — has grown a year or two, and he has an adventure. At first, they’re quaint little affairs — befriending a living girl and visiting an ancient tomb far below the cemetery; being captured by ghouls and outwitting them; arranging a headstone for a witch — but as Bod grows up, it slowly becomes more serious, like dancing the macabray with the Grey Lady, or going to school. Finally, all the story threads come together in the final showdown, where Bod has to defeat the man Jack and his buddies all by himself.
If not for The Ocean at the End of the Lane, The Graveyard Book would probably be my favorite Gaiman book. It’s clearly aimed at younger readers, and the story is fairly straight-forward, but it just tugs at my heart in all the right ways.
Neil Gaiman — The Graveyard Book
There was a hand in the darkness, and it held a knife.
As I have said before, I only really got to know Skik after they went on an open-ended break. I saw them live once, and it was fun, but I only knew a few songs. So, after seeing Daniël Lohues playing in theaters several times, I was really looking forward to see him play on his “Elektrisch” tour: in clubs, with a band, playing songs that could really use a band. And some Skik stuff as well. Sounds like a guaranteed success to me.
And, to no-one’s surprise, it was excellent. A sold out show in Haarlem’s Patronaat, and as soon as Lohues hit the stage, you could see he was really into it: cowboy hat on his hat, guitar all plugged in and having a great time. By all means, I should have been totally into it.
Unfortunately, due to reasons we’ll get into in the new year, my head was somewhere else entirely. Which is a shame, as it took all the fun out what should have been a great night.
Daniël Lohues, “Elektrisch” + Marlene Bakker on October 19, 2018 at Patronaat, Haarlem
Volle maone / Kwelt / Weg van alles / Prachtig mooie dag / Ik haal mij ‘n hond op / Van hier tot Tokyo / A28 / Naor huus (Skik) / Let mar niet op mij / Gao weg / Ja boeh (Lohues & The Louisiana Blues Club) / Hoe kan dat nou (Skik) / ‘t Giet zoas ‘t giet (Skik) / A’j joe verkleden as schaop / Hier kom ik weg / Allennig moe’j ‘t ok kunnen / Ondergrondse hutte / Nie veur spek en bonen (Skik) // Anja de vreemdgangster / Op fietse (Skik) / Ze benn benauwder veur joe as ie veur heur / ‘t Ien of ‘t ander Lohues & The Louisiana Blues Club)
Stephen King’s Elevation is a novella about a guy who is mysteriously losing weight. It’s a good story, a bit heavy on the current state of politics, but not especially great. It also contains the weirdest concept for a department store e-commerce website I’ve ever seen: you go to a website, and after an old-fashioned splash screen, you see an empty room and a search bar. By entering a keyword, the room then gets filled with furniture and other trinkets in that particular style. I don’t believe that would work, but what do I know? Anyway: decent story that would not have been out of place in one of his short-story/novella collections. Don’t know why this would warrant a stand-alone release.
Earlier this year, I also read Laurie, another short story, released online (PDF) this summer. It’s a sweet little tale about an old guy who gets a dog from his sister. At first, he’s not quite impressed, but then, as always, stuff happens.
Stephen King — Elevation
Scott Carey knocked on the door of the Ellis condo unit, and Bob Ellis (everyone in Highland Acres still called him Doctor Bob, although he was five years retired) let him in.
Stephen King — Laurie
Six months after his wife of forty years died, Lloyd Sunderland’s sister drove from Boca Raton to Caymen Key to visit him.
Upon finishing my reread of Neil Gaiman’s The Ocean at the End of the Lane, I am pretty sure it is my favorite book of his. And I suspect that is because I have absolutely no clue what to make of it.
It is an absolutely fantastic story, in every sense of the word. But despite all the maiden-mother-crone triple goddesses, all the weird and wonderful and very evil things that happen, I cannot help but feel that there must be so many layers that you have to peel back before you get to the story’s true meaning. Layers all the way down. When you read, say, Neverwhere, you know it’s all, well, made up. Ocean is nothing like that.
She goes on to say that for this book, he turned the blender down a lot, and that that was hard for him to do. But know this does not bring the story behind the story within reach. In his 2012 Zena Sutherland lecture, What the [Very Bad Swearword] Is a Children’s Book Anyway?, Gaiman acknowledges that this is a very personal, nearly autobiographical story:
It is a book. A glorious, uplifting and satisfying book, that does not really give you any answers as to what it really is about. Do I want to know? Bet your ass I do. But also, no.
Neil Gaiman — The Ocean at the End of the Lane
It was only a duck pond, out at the back of the farm.
“I liked myths. They weren’t adult stories and they weren’t children’s stories. They were better than that. They just were.”
“The dread had not left my soul. But there was a kitten on my pillow, and it was purring in my face and vibrating gently with every purr, and, very soon, I slept.” (😻)