Because Ideas Matter...
The faculty and staff of Butler University's College of Liberal
Arts and Sciences presents
The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman, Harper, 2010
Reviewed by Richard McGowan
Sometimes I select a book to read because I
am curious as to how in the world an author manages to draw a
reader into a preposterous plot. In the case of Neil Gaiman's
Newberry Medal-winning The Graveyard Book, the question
might be, "How in the netherworld did he do that?"
Here is the book's plot: Nobody Owens,
barely able to walk, inadvertently toddles off the night his
parents and older sister are murdered. He wanders into a graveyard
and there he lives, raised by ghosts.
Thereafter, Bod, as the child is called by
his adoptive family, lives a normal life to the extent permitted by
the graveyard's denizens. Bod encounters human visitors as can be
expected from someone who is, in fact, a human being and not a
ghost, but he learns the skills that can only be taught by the
The book's central conflict is Bod's
growing desire to live in the normal world as a normal human being,
for those in the graveyard have come to love him and he loves
Hence, the book is not some fantastic
science fiction but more a story about growth and development, of
human affection and the nature of community. While the plot sounds
like straight fantasy, the book reads like any 'normal' novel
narrating the affairs of the human heart.
I do not know how in the netherworld Gaiman
managed to pull this one off successfully; I do know it richly
deserved the Newberry.
- -Richard McGowan is Instructor of Business Ethics at Butler