When I Stopped Thinking of Neil Gaiman as Perfect


I love Neil Gaiman’s work. His writing in combination with Terry Pratchett’s in Good Omens got me interested in two variants of non-stereotypical fantasy (and actually the first types of fantasy I became interested in) and provided a lot of relief from a bad parental situation.

Last night, I reread Endless Nights, seven short comic book stories about the Endless from Sandman, a series which I love.

It was Delirium’s story that made me go “argh, Neil Gaiman, why did you do this?!”

One of the crazy people is a raped girl who’s gone catatonic. Now. I didn’t mind that bit, because mental illness is mental illness whether someone is inserting Unfortunate Implications or not, and I think Gaiman was mostly not, for this part of the story.

No, it was the ending, where she wakes up and says, “I spent enough time there already, I’m done now.”

That was fine. I have felt this very way for years.

And then she says, “I’ll let it go.”

Four words that ruin the story.

It’s okay in one sense, in that even with chronic PTSD, there are things you can choose to do to heal over a long, looong period of time.

But it’s not okay in a lot of other senses. To name just two major ones: (a) that traumatic reactions are just a choice and not, you know, the result of hormones, body chemicals, or the long-term results of evolution/nurture; (b) that the traumatized are, basically, just victimizing themselves when they can just simply choose to let it go.

Dude, man. You for sure know it’s not that simple, right? You know that’s one of the worst examples of Armchair Psychology, almost verging on Family Unfriendly Aesop? Right? Right??


But, I quite liked the rest of the collection. He’s still a good storyteller, and we all make really, really, really stupid mistakes sometimes. There’s no help for it, except to listen when people tell you “I have a problem with this,” and also for people to say so in the first place. Fallibility is what it means to be human.

For any Neil Gaiman apologists, yes, I forgive him. No, I’m not rewriting this.

I’m going back to bed.