Here’s the second round of questions for the Neverwhere Read Along! I’m so glad I signed up for this. I’m enjoying myself immensely.
1. Chapter 6 begins with Richard chanting the mantra, “I want to go home”. How do you feel about Richard and his reactions at this point to the unexpected adventure he finds himself on?
I don’t really blame Richard for wishing he was home since he now has, as he put it, “the projected life expectancy of a suicidal fruitfly” (89). In fact, I think that’s the reaction many protagonists have when they find themselves on unexpected adventures. Didn’t Alice and Dorothy just want to go home, too? Before he can go home (if he ever does), however, I think Richard needs to learn how to be a more active, and less passive, participant in his own life.
2. The Marquis de Carabas was even more mysterious and cagey during the first part of this week’s reading. What were your reactions to him/thoughts about him as you followed his activities?
I decided a while ago that I would stop trying to pin the Marquis down. I’m still puzzled by his actions, am unclear as to what motivates him to behave the way he does, and don’t entirely trust him. I’m just going to ride the story out and wait to see what – if anything – Gaiman reveals about this character. It will be an entertaining ride, I’m sure, because even though I feel like I have to keep an eye on the Marquis at all times, he has some of the best lines in the book. (My current favorite: “What a refreshing mind you have, young man. There really is nothing quite like total ignorance, is there?” )
3. How did you feel about the Ordeal of the Key?
At first I was a little confused about what was going on, and then it just made me terribly sad. All those people driven to end their own lives . . .
4. This section of the book is filled with moments. Small, sometimes quite significant, moments that pass within a few pages but stick with you. What are one or two of these that you haven’t discussed yet that stood out to you, or that you particularly enjoyed.
Those moments are one of the reasons I love reading Gaiman’s work. Some of them are so fleeting, like this one:
“There are no shepherds in Shepherd’s Bush. I’ve been there. It’s just houses and stores and roads and the BBC. That’s all,” pointed out Richard, flatly.
“There are shepherds,” said Hunter, from the darkness just next to Richard’s ear. “Pray you never meet them.” (90)
And just like that, Gaiman has me wondering, slightly nervously, about the shepherds in Shepherd’s Bush. In just a few short lines, with seemingly little effort, he’s added yet another dimension to this world he’s created. He gives us just enough information to get our imaginations racing, which I think is far more effective writing technique than if he had described in detail just why we wouldn’t want to meet these shepherds.
5. Any other things/ideas that you want to talk about from this section of the book?
I loved this:
Old Bailey was not, intrinsically, one of those people put in the world to tell jokes. Despite this handicap, he persisted in trying. He loved to tell shaggy-dog stories of inordinate length, which would end in a sad pun although, often as not, Old Bailey would be unable to remember it by the time he got there. The only public for Old Bailey’s jokes consisted of a small captive audience of birds, who, particularly the rooks, viewed his jokes as deep and philosophical parables containing profound and penetrating insights into what it meant to be human, and who would actually ask him, from time to time, to tell them another of his amusing stories. (147-148)