Monday, May 11, 2009

Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman

Cross-posted here:

You know what's a bad idea? Reading Mr Gene Wolfe and Mr Neil Gaiman back-to-back. After finishing Soldier in the Mist, I went ahead and finished Smoke and Mirrors. I feel like I just took a masterclass in the art of writing _ by both of them.
This is one of those posts that makes perfect sense in my head but is going to come out all wrong.
The writing of both authors is distinct, their voices in the stories they tell impeccable, but reading them back-to-back was like eating fillet steak when you've been eating lettuce for a week. The reading part of my brain wants to say “stick a fork in me _ I'm done” and just read nonsense for the rest of the year.
This isn't really a review of Smoke and Mirrors is it? It's a fan-girl post _ a Wayne's World-meets-Alice-Cooper moment. I'm sorry. I can't help myself.
The more Gaiman I read, the more room he takes up in the fan-girl part of my heart. (And I have to say, i'ts getting crowded in there). Gene Wolfe is there too, but he's just kind of laughing at me. Like he's saying “yes, yes I am that awesome. And you didn't know” …. cue Vincent Price laugh from Thriller
Um. Smoke and Mirrors is a collection of short stories that precedes Fraglie Things.
While Fraglie Things contains my favourite Neil Gaiman story _ October in the Chair _ I think Smoke and Mirrors is a more cohesive collection. No, I don't know why. It just works a little bit better as a whole, somehow.
My favourite story in this collection was Murder Mysteries. I can't really put my finger on why _ I just loved the premise, and would gladly read a whole novel set in this particular universe. It could be that my Catholic upbringing means I'm comfortable with stories about angels. Or it could just be that it's a great story. Which it is. They're all fantastic, but Murder Mysteries stood out, for me.
And … okay this is a bit more shameful somehow than my other fan-girl admissions: I've never read H P Lovecraft. There's a huge gap in my reading knowledge. Our library has one (that's 1) copy of a collection of stories.


Ana S. said...

I know that masterclass feeling. The only problem is that for a while no other book measures up.

And do read Lovecraft if you have the chance!

chrisa511 said...

LOL...I know exactly what you mean...after I first read this book, I remember thinking, "how the hell does this man write so well??" I love this collection so much and I normally HATE short story collections. This was just perfect though!

Cath said...

I love October in the Chair too... and the Troll Bridge and that one by 'Dawnie'... so skilfully written.

I hope you read some Lovecraft. And if you like his Cthulhu Mythos stories then Brian Lumley has written more that are amazing too, almost, dare I say it... better.

Joanne ♦ The Book Zombie said...

"It's a fan-girl post _ a Wayne's World-meets-Alice-Cooper moment."Lol! I love the fan-girl gushing reviews, they feel so much more true :)

I read Smoke & Mirrors ages ago - I remember enjoying it (being Gaiman that's obvious) but I may have to add it to the TBReRead pile (yeah there's one of those piles too) :D