Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Book Review - Nail Gaiman's Fortunately, the Milk

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
Published by: HarperCollins
Publication Date: September 17th, 2013
Format: Hardcover, 128 Pages
Rating: ★★★★
To Buy

There is no milk for the cereal. Fortunately Dad has gone to the corner shop. But he has been gone awhile... he probably ran into someone he knows. When he does show up though apparently it was running into a whole bunch of people he didn't know that detained him. Aliens set on redecorating the planet, pirates who don't know about walking the plank, and dinosaurs who have invented time machines that look like hot air balloons, but are NOT called that. Sure Dad claims to have messed with the space time continuum and is a little late and unbelievable, but fortunately, he has the milk.

For some reason, while I really really love Neil Gaiman I am very choosy about his books. I've never really bothered with his books for really young audiences and in a confession I am sure will shock some of you, I've never been a fan of The Sandman Comics, and I tried, I seriously tried to like those. I was likewise planning on giving Fortunately, the Milk a pass as well, even though this is one of his books that straddles the age gaps, much like The Graveyard Book, which is quite possibly my favorite of his books. I am very glad I didn't. The truth of things is that while books are put in genres and recommended to certain demographics, all books are for everyone and we shouldn't prejudge based on a kooky cover or a bad blurb foisted on the book by the publisher.

I have Neil himself to thank for making me want to read this book, more then just his writing it that is. Back in July of 2013 when I went to his "final ever book tour" he read a bit from this book. While he bemoaned about the hardship of trying to sell a kids book at the same time as an adults book, something James Patterson has mastered with ease, it was his reading of Fortunately, the Milk that made me realize that yes, I need to stop this prejudging of books. So very quickly, in a matter of seconds, I went from not wanting to read this book in the least to wanting to read it immediately. I was put in a situation in which I was exposed to something that I wasn't keen on and it opened my choosy little heart to enjoy this wacky and weird little book.

How can I explain what appeals to me about a book where a dad goes out for milk and ends up encountering pirates, dinosaurs, time-travel, volcano gods, and what have you in his quest for his children's breakfast? It's what would happen if The Doctor did your grocery shopping for you. Now, as you probably know, I'm not just plucking Doctor Who out of thin air or making some sort of weird connection out of nowhere, Neil has written two episode of Doctor Who so far and is a lifelong fan, so this isn't a stretch of the imagination. Add to that the illustrations by Skottie Young... well, the father is depicted as kind of a mash up of Tom Baker and David Tennant, Tennant's hair as it were with Baker's scarf. So Skottie obviously picked up on this Who vibe as well. But it's also the balancing of the totally absurd, Proffesor Steg and the Floaty-Ball-Person-Carrier, versus the totally mundane, picking up milk at the local shop, that is the hallmark of a great episode of Doctor Who.

I kept relating it to the two episodes of Doctor Who with Craig Owens played by the awesome James Corden, where we have the relatable world of Craig and the weird world of The Doctor that keeps seeping in despite him trying to live a life that's more human. But more importantly then all that is that this book is a celebration of dad's who are great storytellers and never let your refrigerator run out of milk so that you can always have your cereal. Thanks to my Dad who fits this unique mold and I am sure has probably referred to coconuts at some point as hard-hairy-wet-white-crunchers, but most likely because he forgot they were called coconuts.


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