Hi again! Great to see all of you last night.  For those of you who missed the meeting, our group just finished reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman, which someone at some newspaper somewhere once described as "a dark, contemporary Alice in Wonderland."  We at KU are eternally Gaimanophiles (we're making that a thing), so it was nice to hear that most people enjoyed the book!

underground-map

Gaiman was inspired to write "Neverwhere" after looking at a map of the London Underground, which included the derelict and uncompleted stations in the subway system. #triviaisfunnn

Here are a few of our talking points from the meeting:

(1) Magical realism vs. fantasy - someone brought up a great point, which was that characters in magical realism tend to accept supernatural plot devices at face value (I believe the example was, "Oh, I just gave birth to a snake.  That's nice."), while characters in contemporary fantasy are more like, "WTF!!! That f***king rat just spoke to me!!!.  So, oftentimes, fantasy is more relatable to readers because we can identify with the protagonist's confusion.  (And many people admitted that they imagined themselves bumbling along as Richard throughout the novel.)

(2) We also discussed general themes found in Neverwhere, like the idea of personal fulfillment, which is a common theme in fantasy.  And also destiny or fate, and whether or not a person has the ability to affect their path through life.  Someone also mentioned that this was a great book because you could examine it from multiple characters' perspectives and end up with a completely different narrative.  Obviously the story follows Richard's journey, but what if it had been told from Door's perspective?  Or the Marquis?  Then things would take on an entirely different tone.

(3) As far as Neil Gaiman's storytelling techniques, we talked about style (a favorite quote: "This was not the kind of river you fell into and got out of again, it was the other kind."), plot twists (which few of us saw coming, and even if we did, no one really minded), and character description, which, for some characters, was extremely sparse.  Door's age, for example, was kept pretty vague, and certain characters' backgrounds (i.e. the Marquis, Hunter) weren't really explained in great detail.  A reader mentioned that this is often the case in life, though, where you might interact with a person - even on a daily basis - without ever learning too much about their personal history or character.  So really it's another way Gaiman makes the story more relatable to his readers.

neil-gaiman-neverwhere-audio-drama

Before it was a novel, "Neverwhere" was a TV show on the BBC and was recently rebooted as a radio play, with voice actors including Benedict Cumberbatch, that actress who plays Margaery Tyrell in "Game of Thrones," and that other guy who plays young Professor X in "X-Men!" #nowyouknow

That about covers the meeting.  What's next, you ask?  Well, we had a lot of great (and varied) ideas, but in the end the majority of us voted for And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie.  I've always meant to read her, so I'm thrilled to finally be getting to it!  Really the only thing I know about Christie is that she enjoyed eating cream straight from the can.  That's all I got.

Our next meeting is scheduled for Sunday, July 13th at 6pm!  This is a relatively fast-paced read, so everyone should have plenty of time to finish it.  Hope to see everyone there!  And here's a list of the other books people suggested.  We'll include them in future votes:

The Tiger's Wife by Tea Obreht

We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (the inspiration for Orwell's 1984)

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

 

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So, what do you think?