Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Neverwhere (author's preferred text) - Neil Gaiman

I am always wary of such epithets as ‘Director’s Cut’, or ‘Author’s preferred text’. I have no objection to works being restored to the way their auctor intended, especially if they have been badly butchered or censored. But ninety-five times out of a hundred what we are getting is a self-indulgent, over-stuffed reprint that is cashing in on an author’s (or director’s) popularity.

Sadly, I think this belongs with the ninety-five. I found the story to be thin (very little actually happens – most of the book is padding, looking at the scenery, as it were) and the basic premiss flawed (someone who can open any door without a key, goes on a quest to find a key?). Ideas are not developed, characterisation is scant, there is altogether too much ‘telling’ and not enough ‘showing’, and some of the writing is downright sloppy. Given all the work that was supposed to have gone into producing this ‘preferred text’ you would think someone might have pointed out the rough patches.

I am at a loss (based on this and other Gaiman books I have read) to understand his huge popularity. His books are interesting enough, but if you strip away the mythos that surrounds the author, what you are left with is a mildly interesting entertainment. I do not find the ideas to be especially original (or well-developed). Like Rowling, and others of that ilk, he seems to have ridden a wave not of his own making.

If I had a copy of the book as it was originally published, it might be interesting to see what has been done with it, but I don’t and I won’t be going out of my way to find one.