THE WRIT­TEN IM­AGE

Poets and Writers - - Trends -

Neil Gaiman’s first solo novel, Nev­er­where, takes place in a shad­owy un­der­ground world filled with a fan­tas­ti­cal set of char­ac­ters: an elfin young woman with a mag­i­cal power to open doors, an im­pe­ri­ous mar­quis in­spired by Puss in Boots, a man who speaks to rats (pic­tured above), and a pair of slimy as­sas­sins, to name a few. A new edi­tion of the novel—pub­lished last year in the United King­dom and this month in the United States by Wil­liam Mor­row—brings these char­ac­ters to life with art­work by il­lus­tra­tor and U.K. chil­dren’s lau­re­ate Chris Rid­dell, whose black-and-white il­lus­tra­tions take up full pages and adorn the mar­gins of the text. “One hopes it cre­ates a mood—it’s a lit­tle bit like some good stage lighting,” Rid­dell says in a video filmed by the U.K. book­store chain Water­stones, adding that the il­lus­tra­tions help the reader “con­cen­trate on the very heart of the book, which of course are the words.” Gaiman orig­i­nally pub­lished the book in the United King­dom in 1996 as a nov­el­iza­tion of a BBC tele­vi­sion minis­eries of the same name. The new edi­tion, the au­thor’s pre­ferred text, also in­cludes an al­ter­na­tive scene and an ad­di­tional short story about one of the char­ac­ters. “I wanted to talk about the peo­ple who fall through the cracks,” writes Gaiman in the book’s in­tro­duc­tion. “To talk about the dis­pos­sessed, us­ing the mir­ror of fan­tasy, which can some­times show us things we have seen so many times that we never see them at all, for the very first time.”

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