Monday, May 28, 2012

Neverwhere Discussion 2 - Going to the Depths

This week's reading has confirmed my feelings on my three most memorable characters. I continue to love Old Bailey even though he can 'bitch and moan’. When he’s really needed, he comes through. The marquis deC … the marquis deC!  I am so unsure of him … I have a sinking feeling when he leaves the Earl’s Court … is that SOB going to double cross and sell out poor Lady Door and hapless Richard? Hunter? I’m not worried about her. She’s a mercenary and has reconciled her life and life expectancy long ago, but is she what SHE seems to be? I somehow think that her future and Richard’s will entwine … it’s all about those dreams he has of a beast … and she IS a hunter, right?

The email has come, though, and more questions await.

    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?

To answer this, I’m going to tell a story … a true story.  When I was 9 years old, I needed to have surgery. My parents took me to Albany, New York, where I had an appointment with a rather prominent surgeon whose specialty was plastic reconstructive surgery. His BIG hobby was big game hunting and he displayed his trophies in the waiting room (a rather large and ostentatious waiting room) at his office. Now, just imagine a little girl, knowing she needed to be ‘cut up’ a bit, sitting in that waiting room. I looked up and around at gazelles, a huge rhino head, a lion, some cat-like creature, and at least a dozen other animal heads. They were all mounted perfectly, shiny, staring eyes gleaming, smooth fur and rough skin preserved … and what do you think I thought?  I’ll tell you. I WAS PETRIFIED! I thought he must have children stuffed and perfect somewhere and I just knew I was the next one to be offered up on the slab. I looked at my mother and said, “I want to go home!”  My point here is that anyone under the uncertainty of the unknown and knowing that there are knives and gore involved is bound to get a mantra going. I am totally sympathetic with our poor Richard. Like Richard, I was powerless. I was in a situation that I needed to get through, but I did not want to be there. Empathy, folks. I'm feeling empathy for Richard.

  1. 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?

He’s a scoundrel!  He leaves them on the train at Earl’s Court with such bravado, and is almost vindictive when he encounters Lear, knee-deep in coins and half-mad people. He’s a trickster … a classic in folklore. And I don’t like him, but I know he has a huge place in the overall structure of the story. THEN! He sacrifices himself to Vandemar and Croup. His future doesn’t look good, as his head bump, bump, bumps its way up the staircase below Marble Arch and bad goes to worse …

  1. How did you feel about the Ordeal of the Key?

Never having questioned my sanity, I rooted for Richard to recognize the ‘trick’ of the ordeal. I actually felt that the ordeal was so obviously manipulative that it was laughable.
It was clever of Gaiman to bring the little crystal bead that belonged to Anaesthesia into play, but that section was a big yawn for me. I knew Richard would come through the ordeal and I guess I wanted something with more pizzazz.

  1. This section of the book is filled with moments. Small, sometimes quite insignificant, moments that pass within 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?

My big moments that made me stop and either shudder or chuckle or re-read were the passage when Old Bailey and the marquis have the exchange about the silver box and the marquis refuses to take it back – why? What purpose does it have? I wondered why Lady Door was so scared of Serpentine and finding herself under Serpentine’s roof. The scene in the museum and walking into the Angelus door was surreal and stuck with me – what an image! And then … that crucifixion … yuck!

  1. Any other things/ideas that you want to talk about from this section of the book?

Well, it has taken a decidedly Christian bent here … and I’m wondering about our Islington and the sorrow that the Blackfriars have when they lose the key to Richard and Door.  The statement, "God help us  all" is very telling. What was supposed to be a good thing suddenly has a dubious outcome … is Islington a good angel or a bad angel?  I have a really bad feeling here ...


  1. Your personal anecdote is so touching and poignant. It's amazing how your words match Richard's so exactly. Like you, I do not see anything amiss with the way Richard behaves. It feels very human to me. I'm not sure I would do as well.

    1. Agreed. It sounds like it would have been a terrifying experience!

      I loved the way everyone just sort of forgot about the disturbances at the party as if they'd never happened.

    2. Haha! Yes! Those poor security guards and the the girlfriend all of a dither ...

  2. Great story! I can see that it would have been terrifying to you as a child. As an adult it is a deliciously creepy story. One with all kinds of possibilities waiting behind the closed office door.

    I actually like Richard's ordeal scene because I think it ties in directly with what he himself is experiencing. I suspect that the ordeal for each person is drawn from their inner fears/insecurities and there is no doubt that Richard suspects that he is going mad. I liked seeing him have to confront that in a way that required him to make a decision about what he was going to accept as reality.

    We have a third of the book left to read and Croup and Vandemar have just crucified de Carabas. I think your bad feeling is justified. :)

    1. Yeah, Carl! I am just hoping that C&V get theirs in the end! They have been increasingly creepy and sick-o!

  3. I also want to hear why Door is scared of Serpentine - what kind of threatening childhood stories did she hear about her? And what is the story between Hunter and Serpentine? I really hope some day Gaiman writes a prequel...or a sequel....or another novel in the same world with some of the same characters.

  4. I really want to know what's in that box, too. I think it's interesting that the Marquis gives it to Old Bailey. I know it's because Old Bailey owes him a favor, but I have a feeling a LOT of people owe the Marquis favors. So why him? They're such an odd pair.

  5. LOL, I'd forgotten the reference to Winnie the Pooh with the poor Marquis going bump, bump, bump on the stairs. I wish I could pin down my thoughts on villains who make us laugh, but I'm not really getting anywhere with it.