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June 24, 2009


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"The Witch's Headstone" is the chapter that was written first and received separate publication as a short story.

(Although that makes it sound like he wrote "The Witch's Headstone" and then decided to wrap a book around it, which isn't the case. He already planned the whole book, and that was just the section he managed to wrestle out of his head and onto paper first, and then somebody he showed it to asked if they could publish it. I don't recall off-hand whether he then wrote the rest of the book in order, or if he continued to do individual sections in whichever order they came out.)

I thought it was okay, but I've never read the Kipling. I didn't like the illos at all.

Come to think of it, I don't think I've seen Dave McKean's illustrations.

I read the edition with illustrations by Chris Riddell, which I liked, although some of them (perhaps inevitably) failed entirely to live up to the pictures that appeared in my head when I read the words. It may have helped that there weren't too many of them: one per chapter, frontispiece style, and of course the cover.

The McKean illustrations were more plentiful -- the first chapter in particular was very heavily illustrated. I didn't realize different editions had different art; I'll have to be careful about that when I buy my copy.

The disconnect between the chapters and between the in-graveyard and out-of-graveyard parts was very slight, and actually the "Witch" chapter was one of the ones which did link the two parts together effectively. It's a very, very minor quibble, and I think it possible that on a second reading that I will better notice and appreciate the links.

As far as I know, every edition has the Dave McKean artwork except the UK-edition-aimed-at-younger-readers, which has the Chris Riddell illustrations -- and a Chris Riddell cover that would be impossible to mistake for Dave McKean's work, so you shouldn't have trouble on that score.

I have been re-reading

    The Graveyard Book
and googled Joji G. Shoji to see if I could find out what was behind Gaiman's choice of that name. Your blog seems to be the only place that hints at a deeper meaning. Could you share your tuckerization? If you do, I'd be happy to share the meaning of one of the other names in the book that I have found has a deeper meaning . . . Thanks!

Sure. I'm pretty sure it's a reference to Joey Shoji, who is a filker (science fiction & fantasy-related folk music) I remember from back in the 1980s. He's still around, though I don't know what he's up to lately. He obliquely confirms this in his LJ user profile here. You'll have to ask him to tell the story; I'd guess he either bought the reference in a charity auction or is a personal friend of Neil's from fandom.

Thank you for solving that little mystery!

My end of the bargain: Of The Graveyard Book names I have looked up, one of the more interesting was Pettyfer (p. 140), the name of the person whose coffin hides the entrance to the secret chamber. It means "iron foot", and was originally given as a nickname to a soldier who was particularly good at marching, or perhaps to someone who had lost a foot, and has an artificial one made of iron fitted [see surnamedb.com].

The Pettyfer name interested me because Bod injures his leg several times throughout the book. After noting that Odd (of Odd and the Frost Giants) and other Gaimain characters (incl. Coraline) have leg injuries, I did some googling and found this:

The Mortal Foot
Why should the foot that touches the ground be a sign of mortality, in contrast with the gods’ feet, which float ever so slightly above the ground like hovercraft? Perhaps . . . because the point of the body where we are earthbound is what binds us to the grave, and the foot is in touch with Earth as opposed to the heavens. “Both feet on the ground” is what we say of a particularly “down-to-earth” or realistic person, but it is what our myths say of one who is doomed to mortality. . . . [from Splitting the difference: gender and myth in ancient Greece and India, by Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago Press, 1999]

I don't know whether this is what Gaiman is getting at with the injuries to his characters, but there is a definite theme of feet, football, footpaths, etc. associated with Bod.

Thanks again for the Shoji link.

Interesting! And of course the definitive "mortal foot" would be that of Achilles.

I'll have to keep an eye out for the mentions of feet when I reread Graveyard Book.

彼女は与えられた、男性と女性特許とを販売している以上ステップ 4万台。リアル毛皮製品さえカントーそれは、すばらしい、完全長さミンクのコート単エキゾチックな皮膚ハンドバッグは紛れもなく資産を一般的に来るを使用して、かなり価格マーキング

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