Along with 'Neverwhere' I picked up a copy of 'American Gods' (Neil Gaiman). This book has been talked about by so many people whose intellect & style I admire that curiosity got the better of me. This tale of immigrants, cultural mores, power/attention (& the lack thereof), & of Older Gods/Goddesses is amusing, engrossing, & carries itself well enough to be considered more of a literary classic than, say, The Great Gatsby or Moby Dick, for me.
Quote 1: "Well," he said, "I agreed to do it. I could have said no." He wondered why he wasn't scared of her: why a dream of a museum could leave him terrified, while he seemed to be coping with a walking corpse without fear. " (page 56, paragraph 14)
What one can touch is often much easier to deal with than what's in the mind. Then again....
Quote 2: "Hey," said Shadow. "Huginn or Munnin, or whoever you are." The bird turned, head tipped, suspiciously, on one side, and it stared at him with bright eyes. "Say 'Nevermore', " said Shadow. "Fuck you," said the raven." (page 141, paragraph 6)
A sense of humor runs through this tale, more dry than slapstick. For me, characters not taking themselves, or the situation, straight-faced serious helps to ground the story as more of a fable than a lecture. A necessity when the tale reflects what the author sees around him.
1 Visual: "Chicago happened slowly, like a migraine. First they were driving through countryside, then, imperceptibly, the occasional town became a low suburban sprawl, and the sprawl became the city." (page 67, paragraph 16)
I find that authors whose works are memorable travel to the settings their tales are set in. It's easy enough for the reader to discern as an authors' eyes percolate through the tale, invisibly but staining. This description of Chicago is spot on. Another author, whose cozy mystery series I read 10 of, hadn't traveled through the countryside (in a completely different country from where she lived) in which the majority of her series took place. Tellingly, the house her characters lived in always seemed to be out of place, setting but lightly in context. I can't remember her name, the characters' names, or where they were supposed to reside now, & don't particularly care to find out.
The same can't be said of Neil Gaiman.