Into a ‘Cave’ with Neil Gaiman

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Karen Kunawicz

Karen Kunawicz

CARNEGIE HALL, New York: The truth is, The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains is not one of my favorite Neil Gaiman stories. But I love Neil Gaiman (though that may even be an under–statement) and will make the effort to go to a reading, signing, talk of his. Bless him for coming to the Philippines three times!

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On June 27 (June 28 in Manila), Neil Gaiman performed The Truth is a Cave In the Black Mountains with the Four–Play String Quartet from Australia while images from the book, illustrated by Eddie Campbell (From Hell), were projected on the wall.

The show opened with the quartet performing a familiar piece to set the tone for the evening: the theme from Dr. Who. They did several of their original pieces and then Mr. Gaiman came out to read from his upcoming Hansel and Gretel book.

After the intermission came the main event—the reading of The Truth. Neil Gaiman was masterful as always, he is as great a reader as he is a writer. (He reads his own au–diobooks vs. other au–thors having actors read their written work.) The story was magically en–hanced by his reading and delivery and of course the music and the art added all these layers to the story.

It made me wish I could just have Neil, the quartet and a projector with the images in my room at night (though they wouldn’t fit), along with a glass of milk and cho–colate chip cookies by the bedside. Now that would raise the bar for bedtime story reading.

The combination of all those forces at work, on a lovely and cool summer night, turned the telling of a story I was lukewarm about into something bewitching.

Neil ended the “show” by singing (yes!) a dark and hilarious little song called “Psycho.” It was like a strawberry wrapped in very dark chocolate at the end of a meal.

He’ll be performing this same show in Scotland on July 6. That should be extra special as he wrote much of the book in the Isle of Skye in Scotland—a place very dear to him. And it is draws its inspira- tion from Scottish tales and legends.

On his blog he says of Skye, “ . . . the misty island haunts us and holds us in its own way. It is where I am happiest and where I am most alone.” And that particular cave in the black Cuillins has haunted him, the cave where, “you could go, if you were brave, and get gold, with no cost, but each visit you paid to the cave would make you more evil, would eat your soul.”

Once again, Mr. Ga- man enthralls and enchants.

The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains is currently no. 1 in the Hardcover Graphic Books category of the New York Times Best–seller List and it is available in Manila at Fully Booked. The Hansel and Gretel storybook will be released on October 28.

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