Earlier this month I was privileged enough to attend an exclusive Waterstones bookseller event. This is one of those nice little perks that I just didn’t know came with the job — but I’m glad it did!
The event was an audience with the lovely Neil Gaiman, author of masterpieces ‘Coraline‘, ‘Stardust‘ and ‘American Gods‘, among others. He read from his latest book, ‘Fortunately, the Milk…‘, talked a bit about its conception and the surprising way it mirrors his previous book, ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane‘.
Apparently, the main reason that Gaiman wrote ‘Fortunately, the Milk…’ was because he thought that there generally weren’t enough dads in books for kids.
‘Fortunately, the Milk…’ is the silliest book I’ve ever read. It also has the shiniest cover of any book I’ve ever read. Is there a correlation between the two? Perhaps.
It opens with the laments of a brother and sister who don’t have any milk for their cereal. As Mum is away at a conference and Dad’s in charge (and realising that he won’t have anything to put in his tea), he goes to the corner shop to buy some milk. Unlike many of Gaiman’s stories, this is a somewhat humble quest. But that doesn’t mean that it’s going to be boring. Upon his belated return, he has more than just the dairy product. He has a story, full of alien abductions, pirates, wumpires (vampires that aren’t handsome or misunderstood), angry volcano gods and time-travelling dinosaurs.
On the surface it’s all green globby things and stegosauruses in hot air balloons (or “Floaty-Ball-Person-Carriers”), and I think it’s exactly the kind of content that kids will love. But if you’re a bit older, and you look a little harder, there’s a whole bunch of timey-wimey time travel stuff, equal opportunity feminism stuff, interesting palaeontologist and anthropologist stuff… I could go on.
It’s such a great book. I feel like, given the appropriate amount of years, time travel fans will carry cartons of milk around in the same way that they they carry towels around in homage to Douglas Adams every year on 25 May.
Buy it for every child in your life. Buy it for every grown-up that takes themselves too seriously. And when the book on tape comes out, buy that too. Seriously. You just gotta hear him do the voices.
I had met Neil Gaiman once before, outside a Tegan and Sara concert, when his then-fiance Amanda Palmer was playing an impromptu street gig to the queue. It was the day he won the Carnegie Award for The Graveyard Book, and I congratulated him and took possibly the worst picture I’ve ever taken in my life. You’re just going to have to imagine it, because it is waaaaaay too awful to put online!
This time, I let someone else take the photo. It’s still a little blurry.
Thank you Mr Gaiman and Bloomsbury for putting on the event!