Done With Gaiman (Or Not?)

No, of course I’m not done with Neil Gaiman. I’m so far from done with him I don’t even have words for it.

However, as of this month I finally read Stardust and now I think I can say that I am more or less done with what I would regard as the essential selection of Neil Gaiman’s bibliography. I know that he’s quite the writer and so I don’t even pretend to think about reading everything he has written. I also don’t really think that I need to. The „main“ books, yes, of course, the short story collections, sure and I must admit that I haven’t even peaked inside the Sandman comic books and still need to watch Mirrormask. But, come on… here’s what I read (and then you can judged whether I can publicly announce to have read the essential Neil Gaiman or not):

  • Coraline
  • Neverwhere
  • American Gods
  • Anansi Boys
  • The Graveyard Book
  • Stardust
  • Good Omens
  • Fragile Things
  • Smoke and Mirrors

Now what do you think? Did I miss something important? I think aside from one story, M is for Magic only contains stuff that has been published in one of the other books I have read, so I can probably skip that book.

The question now would naturally be: What did I like best? So here’s my personal opinion on these books:
My top three books would be Coraline, Neverwhere and Stardust. I love, love, love Coraline with a passion and although it also was the first Gaiman book I read, I don’t think that this is the reason why it is my number one Neil Gaiman. I just love the nightmarish atmosphere of the book, the intensity and the fact that although it is a children’s book it scared the hell out of me. It’s simply great stuff. I loved the lightness of Neverwhere and would say that it is probably the funniest Neil Gaiman book in a Douglas Adamsy kind of way. Plus, it was written very tightly, so to speak, which made reading it a breeze. You just kind of sailed through it and before you even realized it, there was the end. Then Stardust was again one of the shorter, lighter Gaiman books and reminded me of The Princess Bride, which in my world is a really good thing. It really was a modern fairytale and I could hardly stop reading it (I had to though, because I was reading it when we were in Krakow with my parents in law and it would have been rude to just stay inside and keep on reading).

American Gods, as far as I know, is a favorite for many other people, but it was a bit too long for my taste and while this is not generally a problem, I think it just became too obvious in some of the parts of the book. Anansi Boys and Good Omens had the same problem for me. They just weren’t as capturing and tightly written as the books mentioned above.

Then, The Graveyard Book (which has been ridiculously translated to Das Graveyard-Buch in German, which… what the hell were these guys thinking?) I hoped I would love it, but then I just liked it a lot. Good enough for me, so I don’t have any complaints, it just wasn’t as good as Coraline, so there you go.

Both short story collections I adored. Not every story in there is great per se, but the diversity of stories and styles and Neil Gaiman’s extensive explanations regarding where the stories and poems came from are just amazing. This is a really good creative stuff, and I love the fact that he goes out there and publishes stuff that might not be perfect or even particularly good, but on the other hand it shows the whole range of his writing and the imagination of Gaiman is just mind-bogglingly.

So, there you go. My take on Gaiman. Once again, if you think there’s something I missed, something that I should definitely read because it does indeed belong to the essential Gaiman list, please tell me. It’s not that I don’t want to read other Gaiman books, but I might have trouble finding the right thing to continue with.