"'I don't want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted? Just like that, and it didn't mean anything. What then?'"
Before I started blogging, I had no idea who Neil Gaiman was. I had never heard of him, at all, which is ridiculous because I was aware of the movie version of Coraline, and I'd seen (most of) Dogma, which is based on a book he wrote with Terry Pratchett, and just, there are things that I should have known him from. Then, as time went on and I got to know more bloggers, they started reading Neil Gaiman books, to which at first I went 'who?' and then, as these posts kept becoming more and more frequent, 'this guy again?' Every time I left a comment, everyone replied that I would definitely love Gaiman, or that they thought I already did love him, and so, peer pressure prevailed again and Coraline I have read.
It didn't hurt that over Christmas I acquired... *quick count* 5 Gaiman books in a matter of days, so I thought, I'm going to have to read the bugger now.
So! Coraline! It was my Christmas present from the lovely Bex, and I had it near me because I thought I might read it for the minithon, so one Sunday afternoon, I read the whole thing all at once. Which didn't take long, because it's a children's book, and a short one at that, but I thought it might sound impressive... Anyway. Even though all of those things are true, I also don't think I would have wanted to read it in more than one sitting because OH MY GOD the horror. The horror.* And I am an extensive Stephen King reader, just to remind you.
I guess Coraline isn't out and out horrifying so much as very very creepy, but I'd imagine it's the kind of story that would have given me nightmares as a child. Coraline (in case you don't know) is the story of a girl on her summer holidays, bored out of her mind and fairly unindulged by her parents, or her slightly strange neighbours. One day she decides to explore a door-to-nowhere in her house, which now goes to somewhere, and she goes through and meets her other mother and other father, who are exactly the same as her real parents except that they have buttons for eyes and want her to stay with them forever and ever and ever... as long as she consents to having buttons for eyes too. Coraline doesn't really fancy that, and goes back to her real home, and that's when her troubles really begin.
I can't even tell you how freaky the buttons-for-eyes things seems to me, but it's not nearly as freaky as some of the other stuff in the book that I won't spoil for you. It was kind of amazing to me that the things that I found really creepy were things that Coraline just kind of shrugged at and then kept on going through, but I also thought that was really realistic- children are so much more resilient about weird things than grown ups are, and actually, in general, are so much more resilient.
Damn, I miss being a child...
Anyway! What really really struck me when I was reading Coraline, was how completely classic it felt. Which is not to say that it felt old- but just that it could almost have been written at any time, and that it will endure for a really long time (if this actually happens, I called it first). I found this especially exciting because it also felt really original, so it's classic-ness didn't come from it reminding me of other things, just that in its details and execution and everything, it felt enduring and simple and lovely. But also creepy. Never forget the creepy.
So. I don't know if this one book means I can call myself a Gaiman convert, but it does at least mean that I can breathe easy knowing that the other 4 Gaiman books I've got waiting for me are probably going to be alright. I just can't breathe easy thinking about the Other Mother and all the horrors that come with her world...
*I've actually just realised that I had a dream that was ostensibly about my nan, but also I think took some inspiration from Coraline. I won't bore you with the details because I know other people's dreams=SNORE, but woah. No wonder it was freaky...