Note: I know today is Thursday, but I don’t have time to write this tomorrow, so I did it today. It’s only an hour early, anyway.
Greetings, Nerd Cactus aficionados, and welcome to this week’s edition of Boozy Books! It is I, C, the
Great Dane slightly out-of-her-mind writer here with you today and I’m comin’ to you live from South Florida! Or something. I don’t know. I really should stop typing whatever pops into my head. This is why you need a good editor, folks.
So! For all y’all out there doing NaNo, let’s sit back and have a nice relaxing Friday (shh- yes, I know it’s Thursday) evening. Get your booze on and settle down with a good book and some fuzzy socks. Or, you know, even if you aren’t doing NaNo, feel free to join in on the fuzzy sock party. We’re not discriminatory here. Reading is for everyone. Booze is for everyone 21 and up in the United States and the far more reasonable 18 and up most everywhere else. So, let’s get this party started.
I believe I’ve mentioned I love Neil Gaiman. I mean, who doesn’t? If you don’t, you’re wrong. OK, no, you’re not wrong…but I vehemently disagree with your assessment. And that’s OK. People can disagree and still get along fine. They can even work together and get stuff done. (Lookin’ at you, Congress.) But, if you don’t like Gaiman, this week is going to be a bit of a disappointment to you because, guess what, we’re plugging Gaiman.
The only other time this titan of wordplay has appeared on our blog, I recommended American Gods, which is one of the books that inspired me to actually (want to) become a published author. If I could make even one person feel the way that book made me feel (OK, that sounded sexual…mostly, it blew my mind), then I would count myself successful. But this time, I am delving into another of his works: Neverwhere (aka, the other camp in the Gaiman fandom). Put simply, it basically does for London what American Gods does for America. It is an exploration and a love letter wrapped up in Gaiman’s signature weird.
It all begins with RichardRichardMayhewDick. OK, so his name is Richard Mayhew and he prefers to be called Dick, but how is a denizen of London Below supposed to know that? Richard Mayhew is a pretty normal Scottish bloke (actually, I’d argue the quintessence of normal) who moves to London for a job. He finds himself an inexplicably good-looking/successful girlfriend who also happens to boss him around, a couple of friends at his humdrum desk job, and, not because he particularly likes them, a collection of troll dolls. Basically, everything is comfortable. And dull. Really, really dull.
Then a girl named Door shows up and Richard is introduced to a world he has no idea even exists. A world where the lost and the forgotten end up and monsters (and angels, too, for that matter) are very real. A world called London Below. And Richard’s life is never the same.
The fun thing about Neverwhere is that it’s actually the novelization of a television show, making it probably the only “TV show/Movie: the Novel” to actually be better than the source material. Of course, Gaiman wrote and developed the TV show, too, so there is that; in fact, the reason he wrote the book was because the show had to leave so much out, Gaiman wanted to ensure that the whole story was written down somewhere. Thus was the book born. You can actually watch the show on Hulu, I think; I found it once in my late-night searches, but I’m unsure of if it’s still there. And, of course, there is the latest BBC radio production with young Professor X as Peter Mayhew and Anne Boleyn/Margaery Tyrell (based on your preference) as Door. Also, Benedict Cumberbatch. The TV version has the current Doctor, too, so there’s just all sorts of nerdery going on there.
But back to the book. London Below is, as I said, where the lost and the forgotten go. There is an Earl at Earl’s Court and shepherds in Shepherd’s Bush (that you should absolutely beware). There’s even some Ancient Romans wandering around the joint if you know where to look. It’s at once a history lesson and a mythological one, taking all the best from folklore and architecture and putting it all together into a hodgepodge that screams London. It is an exploration of what makes London unique and magical; the city (both versions) is as much a character in the story as everyone else. Gaiman has that most amazing quality of being able to achieve that sense of wonder and depth, taking the world and twisting it into something new and awesome. (Awesome in the sense that it inspires awe, not in the American sense.) Even if American Gods is not your thing (which is the explanation I get from so many who say they don’t like Gaiman), try out Neverwhere. It’s more compact, less meandering, and far more plot-driven than its Yankee counterpart, which is rather more like taking a road trip across the wide and open spaces of the US. I may prefer American Gods, but I absolutely love this book, as well.
Now, I have a couple of drinks to recommend to you. Obviously, you could go the simple route and get yourself a nice ale to tide you over. Nothing so English as that. Except maybe tea, which is why my first recommendation is actually a tea-based and alcohol-free concoction called a London Fog. Basically, it’s Earl Grey tea (steeped to your preference, but I like mine strong) with milk and vanilla. You can use a vanilla syrup if you want to sweeten as well as vanilla-ize, or you can use extract and add whatever sweetener you prefer. Starbucks used to sell it as the Earl Gray tea latte, which bugged the heck out of us because it was so obviously a London Fog. But whatever.
The second drink comes from the fact that a lot of the people in London Below are scavengers. Theirs is a hodgepodge of different things all cobbled together in as serviceable manner as possible. Which is what got me to thinking that they might be the kind of people to have the mostly empty bottles from restaurants and bars, filched from dumpsters or whatnot. And because they have to use what they can find, they probably just toss everything together to make a drink. Originally, that got me thinking of a Long Island Iced Tea, but I couldn’t recommend a drink with that name for such a story, so instead I’m recommending the Kitchen Sink. Which basically involves you throwing what you’ve got together, shaking it up, and serving it either chilled or over ice, depending on what you’ve got. Just be careful not to go mixing acids and creams ’cause that’ll curdle…
Here’s a version I found by literally typing “Kitchen Sink recipe alcohol” into Google. Had to specify booze because so many ice-cream places have something called the Kitchen Sink it’s not even funny. Anyway, here ya go:
Well, that’s it for me today! Tune it Saturday when A will reach deep down inside herself and find something about Shakespeare we haven’t talked about yet. It’ll happen. We might start using Saturday as a day to talk about writers we like in general…you know, for freshness. Anyway, see you Sunday for some silly!
No specific Buy the Booze this week, since it’s really just…whatever you have in your cupboard. Good excuse to use up some of those old bottles so you can get new ones!
Buy the Book:
Note: For my more visual friends, there is also a graphic novel version! It’s actually done by Mike Carey, but that’s OK because Carey also wrote the Lucifer spin-off from Sandman and those are excellent.