London has vast selection of places made famous by amazing books. Fans queue at the Baker Street 221b (located between 237 and 241, I wonder how Watson found it on the first time?) or run their noses flat at Platform 9 ¾ at Kings Cross Station.
There is another literary place where people queue all the time, London underground. Main location for a Neil Gaiman’s stunning masterpiece, Neverwhere. How many of the people queuing at a tube station for a literary appreciation is unknown, but for me entering a station ahead is an adventure. There is a book in my bag, and I am almost done reading it. For once I don’t dread a long commute. Finding a familiar white-based map on the wall I eagerly trace along the coloured lines quickly spotting Islington and Earls Court, smile when I confirm what I already know, there is no British museum station.
Neverwhere takes place in London below, a world loosely overlapping London underground. London below is a place for the other people, the ones fallen through the cracks. First, it feels like the story is built around the concept of a social invisibility. However, with a few pages in you realize that the story don’t simply built on the concept but runs away with it dragging you along, possibly hanging on by your teeth.
In this world people don’t use the term rat race (possibly for health reasons), announcement “mind the gap” is warning not to be taken lightly, a hunter is searching the Beast of London, night market location spreads like a wildfire and you really, really don’t want to meet the shepherds.
Adding a few quotes from Neverwhere as an appetizers and to show off the astonishing way Mr. Gaiman have with the words.
This was not the kind of river you fell into and got out of again, it was the other kind.
Waiting was a sin against both the time that was still to come, and against the moments one was currently disregarding.
The young woman was crying, in the way that grown-ups cry, keeping it inside as much as they can, and hating it when it still mushes out at the edges making them ugly and funny-looking on the way.
The boy had the towering arrogance only seen in the greatest of artists and all nine-year-old boys.
Whether you are looking to add a new source of amusement to your daily commute or simply planing to visit London, read Neverwhere and a tube ride will become a “spot a book place”.