Author of the week
For Neil Gaiman, it all began with a Marvel comic, said Petra Mayer in NPR.org. Fifty years ago, long before he riffed on Norse mythology for his 2001 novel American Gods or for his comics series The Sandman, he was a 6-year-old in suburban London who was fascinated by Dr. Don Blake, a hero in a Marvel series who discovers, when he finds a stick in a cave and bangs it on the ground, that the god Thor lives inside him. Gaiman admits he spent much of his next few years picking up random sticks and banging them on the ground, “just on the off chance,” he says, “that they might be the Thor stick.” Though his persistence never paid off as planned, his interest in Thor led him to read more deeply. The stories, and characters, proved endlessly rewarding.
Gaiman’s new best-seller, Norse Mythology, is a fairly straight retelling of the Norse legends, said Nivea Serrao in Entertainment Weekly. He uses the bones of the old tales, strings them together in a narrative that spans from Earth’s creation to the death of the gods, then throws in plenty of invented details, dialogue, and wry asides. “It’s like I’m a musician looking at fantastic old folk songs and doing a covers album,” he says, “trying to get them to sound contemporary by using electric guitars.” The stories still strike Gaiman as incredibly relevant, especially because the larger saga is forever moving toward the death of the gods, and toward a new beginning. “The old sun may be dead,” he says, “but there’s a new sun in the sky and now it’s all beginning over again, and that is a wonderful, wonderful thing.”