Monday, July 20, 2009

Favorite Passages: The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

For those of you who followed this blog in its previous incarnation, you know how much I love the children's book, The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. The book is an absolute joy to read, but it's also heartbreaking in its portrayal of leaving childhood behind. I just finished re-reading the book, and it was just as moving and fun and lovely as the first time I read it four months ago. I had a hard time deciding what passage to put here, as there are many that I love, particularly in the moments between the protagonist, Bod, and his mysterious guardian, Silas. I chose this passage because it illustrates the way regret and longing and loss play into an intriguing children's tale. But most of all, I chose it because of the way it shows the relationship between Silas and Bod without ever resorting to sentimentality or dishonesty. I hope you all get a chance to read this wonderful book someday.

From: The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman
Chapter Five: "Danse Macabre"

“Silas. What’s a Macabray?”

Silas’s eyebrows raised and his head tipped to one side. “Where did you hear about that?”

“Everyone in the graveyard is talking about it. I think it’s something that happens tomorrow night. What’s a Macabray?”

“It’s a dance,” said Silas.

“All must dance the Macabray,” said Bod, remembering. “Have you danced it? What kind of dance is it?”

His guardian looked at him with eyes like black pools and said, “I do not know. I know many things, Bod, for I have been walking this earth at night for a very long time, but I do not know what it is like to dance the Macabray. You must be alive or you must be dead to dance it – and I am neither.”

Bod shivered. He wanted to embrace his guardian, to hold him and tell him that he would never desert him, but the action was unthinkable. He could no more hug Silas than he could hold a moonbeam, not because his guardian was insubstantial, but because it would be wrong. There were people you could hug, and then there was Silas.

His guardian inspected Bod thoughtfully, a boy in his new clothes. “You’ll do,” he said. “Now you look like you’ve lived outside the graveyard all your life.”

Bod smiled proudly. Then the smile stopped and he looked grave once again. He said, “But you’ll always be here, Silas, won’t you? And I won’t ever have to leave, if I don’t want to?”

“Everything in its season,” said Silas, and he said no more that night.

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