‘Good Boys Deserve Favors’ by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman, Neil 2006

Good Boys Deserve Favors by Neil Gaiman, 2006

The magic trick:

Flowing, easy prose

Neil Gaiman was one prolific dude. So many books. So many stories. So many words. And maybe that’s too much of a good thing?

We looked at an Alice Munro story last year called “Images,” about a girl’s memory of a day’s walk in the woods with her father. I wrote on this site about how the story felt like a flimsy anecdote until the final paragraph where Munro/the narrator laid out context for the story giving the whole thing profound meaning.

Well, here we have a similar story in that the narrator’s memory – in this case, learning to play the double bass in school – feels like a flimsy anecdote. It’s charming and amusing but lacks any depth of meaning. Unlike the Munro piece, though, it never delivers the goods in the final paragraph. It is what it is – a nice, little narrative.

That’s the negative take. It’s worth mentioning that Gaiman’s writing almost always has a lovely flow to it. I’m thinking that’s how you get prolific. It always feels like he’s very comfortable simply sitting down at the table and churning out prose. The words just pour out. It’s as if he’s talking to the reader on the page. And that’s quite a trick on Gaiman’s part.

The selection:

He had never married. Good double bass players, he told me, were men who made poor husbands. He had many such observations. There were no great male cellists – that’s one I remember. And his opinion of viola players, of either sex, was scarcely repeatable.

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