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  1. This book was great fun! Probably not as good a novel as American Gods, but funnier. The story is that Mr Nancy, a charming and fun loving fellow, who loves to sing, is also the god Anansi, and he has a son Fat Charlie,who knows nothing of his heritage as a son of a god. In fact he is mortally embarrassed by his father. But when Mr Nancy dies fat Charlie learns the truth, and also that he has a brother, Spider, who got all the good god genes. Or so it seems. The brothers meet , and Spider sort of takes over Fat Charlie's life, to the point that Fat Charlie enlists, with the help of 4 witches from the old 'hood, the aid of another god to get Spider out of his life. Which of course doesn't go as planned. Very clever writing and great throwaway lines, interesting, compelling, somewhat farcical and not even remotely scary plotting. Raced through this book and enjoyed every page of it.
  2. This book has been getting adoring reviews, both from the professionals and on amazon. Let me add to the chorus. I loved this book and think it will be one of the few books that I re-read. The book is very short, only about 200 pages, but it is the perfect length for the story it tells. The narrator is a grown man, never named, who tells the story of events that occurred when he was 7 years old. At that time, he and his parents and younger sister lived in a large ramshackle house in Sussex. He is bookish and socially isolated (no one comes to his 7th birthday party), but seems content with his life. His parents encounter unexplained financial difficulties and he has to begin sharing a room with his sister so that the family can have a boarder use his room. There are several boarders, but one of them commits suicide in the family car down at the end of the lane he lives in. There, he meets an unusual family of women. He likes them very much, but embarks on an ill-advised adventure with the 11-year-old daughter, Lettie, with the result that he brings a great evil back into his world. The remainder of the book describes how that evil manifests itself in his family and the efforts that he and the family of women undertake to remove the evil. It is not surprising that Neil Gaiman has a great imagination, but I still found myself amazed that he could come up with so much that was divorced from reality, involving magic and unseen forces, while nevertheless tying it logically to a reality we would all understand. For example, the evil creature manifests itself as a childcare provider who appears just exactly at the right time to help the family out (the mother gets a job that also seems suspiciously timed), but ends up cruelly dividing the family in a number of ways. The boy sees that she is evil immediately, but everyone else in the family is taken in, even when they do things, some of them terrible, under her instigation that they would never normally dream of doing. I think that sometimes the things that adults do in the lives of children, where they put themselves and other people ahead of their children must actually feel this way to children, which is why I thought the fantasy was so well realized. As children are sometimes forced to do, the boy ends up showing great strength of character, even as he remains a child. He has to be extremely brave and acts courageously when he realizes that he is unwilling to let others suffer because of his own mistakes. But he's still clearly a child--Gaiman doesn't just make him a little adult, which I appreciated. For example, his relationship with his younger sister is as cross and quarrelsome as many such relationships are. The family of women--Lettie Hempstock and her mother and grandmother--are vivid and engaging characters. You felt that the boy was safe when he was with them and that they would help him meet and conquer all of the problems that he encounters. I really became quite attached to them and their role in the boy's life. Because the narrator is now an adult, he can make observations about what happened and the nature of the difference between children and adults that the child couldn't at 7 years old and I thought that was a smart way of organizing the story. The writing is perfect. I usually highlight things, but I am having trouble with my tablet right now (all highlighting blacks out the words I am trying to highlight--yes, I've spent all day "chatting" with Chandu in Amazon.com customer assistance--great guy, trying to be helpful, but so far, nothing has improved). I had to search for the quote above by searching for "father." I hope that I will be able to highlight the next time I read it and perhaps can add more examples. Very highly recommend.
  3. It's been a while, and my memory's not the best, but here goes! I'd already seen the film and was bought the book of Stardust by a friend. It was my first encounter with Neil Gaiman's writing, and I was enchanted! It felt like reading a children's fairy tale a lot of the time but then a scene of fairly graphic sexual content or of a gory nature would remind me that this was not the usual fare. I loved it and I'm planning to get my hands on the rest of Gaiman's books. I'll also be eternally grateful that directly because of this book I was led to Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell which has been the highlight of my reading year so far!
  4. Neil Gaiman writes another corker. The Graveyard Book manages to draw you back to the childhood sensation of discovering a new world hidden in the depths of a few hundred pages. The book is about Nobody Owens (Bod), escaping from murder at the age of one, Bod fines sanctuary in a Graveyard. The Ghosts and The Honour guard provide him with a family and a safe place to grow up, away from those who need to come to finish him off. As Bod grows older his obedience frays and he begins to explore the town around his graveyard placing himself in danger. The danger follows his scent, leading to a climactic ending. Neil Gaiman managed to create a wonderful sense of place in this novel, the creepy graveyard transforming to become a place of warmth, love and security. The book is classified in our library as Young Adult, but this is a book which deserves to find many many readers.
  5. On the front cover of this book it is claimed that this novel is a great modern fairytale and will outstripe Alice in Wonderland. Well I certainly wouldn't say that. I found it to be an OK book, an alternative world and a plucky heroine, but I just found that I wasn't all that bothered if she survived and found her parents or not. Maybe it's my age but I won't be recommending it to the kids at school.
  6. Lots of people in the Neil Gaiman thread seem to have read this book but I can't find a seperate post for any of the Gaiman books and I think that this book deserves its own post. I know that I'm probably one of the few people never to have read Neverwhere, but it was worth the wait. I'm definately having a bit of a Neil Gaiman year, seeming to be reading his books all over the place. For anyone in the dark, like I was, Neverwhere is a novel set in London Below. Richard is a typical middle class office worker in London, he gets up, goes to a boring job, and sees his boring girlfriend and then does exactly the same thing the next day. That is till one evening an injured girl literally falls at his feet. His life changes in moments, leaving him dumped, invisible to everyone arouund him and able to talk to rats. The injured girl, Door, leads him to a life under the normal London, filled with the people who just 'fell through the gaps'. The train stations act like portals, and more than live up to their names and his life is at risk with every step he takes. I absolutely loved this novel. The inverted world of London, the fantasy creatures and the pace with which the story unfolds. For years I shrugged away from fantasy literature, and I seem to have discovered it through children's literature and its opened up a new world of books, which I'm hoping to discover more of.
  7. "Shadow had done three years in prison. He was big enough, and looked don't ****-with-me enough that his biggest problem was killing time. So he kept himself in shape, and taught himself coin tricks, nd thought a lot about how much he loved his wife." The moment Shadow is released from prison his life changes, his wife is dead having been killed in a car crash is a compromising position with his best friend, and on the way to her funeral he meets a man who will change his world. Shadow suddenly becomes the employee of Wednesday half god/half con man. He runs every time this man calls taking him on various jobs across the States, and meeting a number of random gods. In every place he travels he meets gods from each of the countries that Americans originated from, all brought over by the beliefs of migrants and many forgotten by the current breed of Americans. And that's not all he has to deal with: His undead wife keeps returning asking to be brought to life. Oh, yeah and... "...all the gods that people have ever imagined are still with us... And that there are new gods out there, gods of computers and telephones and whatever, and that they all seem to think there isn't room for them both in the world. And that some kind of war is kins of likely." The story of Shadow and of the war of the gods is interspersed with my favorite chapters, those from the past which show the arrival of migrants and gods arriving to the shores of America, my most favorite being the chapter entitled 'Coming to America' about twin African children sold to slave traders and shipped to America, that language just pulls you right in, and you feel like you have stepped into another novel.
  8. This is a mixed colection which contains The Sandman numbers 29, 30, 31, 38, 39, 40, 50 and The Sandman Special number 1. Four stories are particular favourites of mine. "Three Septembers and a January" tells the story of Norton 1, the first (and last) Emperor of the USA. "Thermidor" features Lady Joanna Constantine as she resuces the head of Orpheus from revolutionary France. In "August", the Emperor Augustus spends the day begging so that he can plan Rome's future without the gods seeing him. "Orpheus" is the son of Oneiros (Dream) and Callope and this stoory re-tells the Greek myth for us.
  9. Originally published as single magazine issues 51-56 this story is really a collection of shorter stories held together by an ongoing story at the inn at the world's end. Some of the stories are very good but some are a bit weak and one can see why they could not be stretched to a full edition. A group of travellers fro different dimensions are trapped at the inn by a reality storm and tell tales to each other to pass the time and by way of payment for the hospitality of the inn-keeper. The reason for the storm if hinted at in the final pages when we see a funeral cortege in which Destiny leads the procession and Delerium and Death bring up the rear.
  10. Collecting Sandman 41-49. Death and his sister Delerium go in search of their brother Destruction who deserted his realm over 300 years before. Touching on the lives of a number of different characters from the long lived to ex-gods they journey in the real world seeking clues as to their brother's wherabouts. One on Neil Gaimans better stories featuring the Sandman.
  11. Death is Dream's sister, another of the Endless. Once every hundred years she spends the day as a human to better experience the world. In this story an unwitting human joins her adventures.
  12. Originally published as The Sandman 32-37. This story arc involves characters who appeared in earlier stories and involves a dreamland that is due to be destroyed. Barbie has forgotten her dream but the characters of her dream contact her in the waking world and she returns to the dream to try to defeat her enemy “The Cuckoo”. This is one of the more enjoyable story arcs in The Sandman series.
  13. Originally published as Sandman 21-28 . Dream decides to travel to Hell to free an ex-lover that he originally consigned there some ten thousand years ago. But Lucifer outwits him and closes Hell and leaves him the new owner. A number of interested parties then try to get Dream to give them Hell. These includes Odin, the lords of Order, the lords of Choas, the Egyptian god Anubis, a Japanese deity, Azazel (who previously ruled Hell with Lucifer and Beelzebub) and a number of others. They are observed by two Angels who have descended from the Silver City to watch. In the end Dream gives Hell to…
  14. This book collects Sandman 17-20 and is a collection of single edition stories (rather than a story that spans several editions). For me, there are two stand-out stories. "Calliope" is about the youngest of the nine muses. She has been sold by a successful author to another author who has writer's block in order to "cure" him. The cure involves the writer raping Calliope. Dream (or Oneiros as he is known to Calliope) cannot save her as he is, at the time, still imprisioned (see The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes). In "A Midsummer Night's Dream" William Shakespeare’s company presents a play to Auberon, Titania and their fairies. The play is presented on the Sussex downs by the Long Man of Wilmington (called Wendel) who opens the gate to the land of faerie. This is one of two plays that Shakespeare has promised to Dream. The story is credited to both Neil Gaiman and William Shakespeare and is cleverly done.
  15. This collection, which was the first to be published in the UK, contained numbers 8 to 16. It tells the story of some escaped dreams/nightmares and of Rose who is a dream vortex. A vortex has the power to merge peoples dreams and destroy the dreaming. This collection has some brillaintly disturbing stories, including a meeting of serial killers and probably the best one-off story in The Sandman Collection, which is "Men of Good Fortune".
  16. This book collects issues 1-8 of "The Sandman". It wasn't the first collection to be published, see "The Dolls House". The collection tells the tales of how Dream of The Endless is captured and of how that affects dreamers around the world. Dream and his siblings: Destiny, Death, Desire, Despair, Delerium (formerly Delight) and Destruction are the Endless. They came before the gods and they will be here for the last person. This is a good introduction to the character but perhaps not the best place to start. No wonder they published "The Doll's House" first.
  17. I'm sure fans of Pratchett will have read Good Omens, a book that I adore. It's funny that I always though Good Omens was 100% classic Pratchett, until I started reading Neil Gaiman's books. So many of the bits that I loved are straight out of Gaiman's weird wonderful and very literary world. If you haven't read Gaiman before I recommend anything and everything he has writted, but particularly American Gods, Neverwhere, Stardust and the Sandman Library.
  18. I haven't yet read the novel Coraline, but I picked up the graphic novel at the weekend in Borders, and decided to have a read straight away. Really, I am putting off starting the uni pile of books, and graphic novels can easily be fitted in without much commitment whilst still pretending to consider the uni books. Anyway, so, I don't know how much this graphic novel follows the original text. Coraline moves to an old house and she finds a bricked up door. One night it opens into a dark corridor which leads to an identical house, to the one she has moved to. She is in a parallel world which in the words of Kevin Smith, is a 'view askew'. The mother there, identical to Coraline's own mother apart from her black button eyes, is in control and lavishes much needy love on Coraline. Eventually she captures the real mother and father so that Coraline will stay with her, but Coraline has different ideas. This story is perfectly suited to the graphic novel; creepy, claustrophobic and cloaked in darkness. The artwork is very clean and realistic in its intention. The buttoned mother is extremely creepy indeed and I wonder if I could have imagined a more creepy representation if I had read the original novel. Great fun.
  19. Illustrated by Dave McKean. Shortlisted for the Kate Greenaway Medal in 2004. Now made into a theatrical production, Gaiman's Wolves in the Wall, is for slightly older children. It is a little bit scary and the illustrations emphasise the darkness. Lucy hears wolves in the wall and her family don't believe her until one terrifying night the wolves come out of the walls. The shadowy characters, real-life collages and scratchily drawn wolves make for a very interesting look and make the story both real and imaginary. It seems to border the line between dreams and reality. The only thing that does annoy me is that it is a little long for a bedtime read and that means we don't get to read it that often, but when we do I like nothing better than to read it in such a way as the boys get a little chill.
  20. Rescued Thread Flingo 8th April 2006 06:36 PM As all the new discussion is taking place about the next read, before we finish this off I thought I would ask those of you that read Smoke and Mirrors which were your favourite stories/story? Mine (so far!) would be Changes, Chivalry, closely followed by The Wedding Present. As I have commented on these elsewhere on the board, I won't repeat myself! If your favourite has not been discussed elsewhere, it would be interesting to see your reasons. Red Fox 18th April 2006 03:17 PM I really liked 'Nicholas Was...' as I am interested in myths and I like things that are not quite as they seem. This is also the shortest story in the book, which probably says something else about me too! Hazel 18th April 2006 03:30 PM Definitely The Wedding Present. I think we'd all like to know there was a tangible way of keeping a marriage 'good'. Red Fox 18th April 2006 05:42 PM I liked the Wedding Present too, it really makes you think about the meaning of the words 'for better or for worse'.
  21. Rescued Thread Opal 27th February 2006 11:41 PM I can't be the only one out there reading it! I don't know how long we're supposed to wait before starting to discuss it, or whether we have a different thread for each story, but I thought I'd make a start by finding out who's joining in! Adrian 27th February 2006 11:53 PM I'm reading it too, though I might not get through it all before it has to go back to the library. I'd say start a thread for any story(ies) you want. It would be pretty confusing to have posts about different stories in the same thread. Grammath 28th February 2006 11:46 AM I've read about half of it so far. I wasn't sure if good policy would be to finish it or to start threads on individual stories as I went along. I think I might skip a lot of the rest of the poetry, though. I've been quite underwhelmed by that so far. Flingo 28th February 2006 12:04 PM I picked it up from the Library last night. Unfortunately they told me I need to return 2 other books already on my card as they had been requested by other readers. Will read them quick and then get on with Smoke! Opal 28th February 2006 02:16 PM I know what you mean, I don't know if I'm missing the point of it, but I've never liked reading poetry very much. It's over so quickly that you don't have time to get drawn into it or anything! Maybe I'm just not a poetry person... Momo 28th February 2006 04:20 PM That's exactly how I feel about short stories. You don't get to know the characters well enough to really get into the story and when it gets interesting (if at all on a couple of pages), it's all over. If I find the book here, I might read it but I'm not going to order it because I know I'm not into short stories. megustaleer 28th February 2006 04:32 PM I'm not keen on short stories, either. If I happened to come across the book i might take a look, but with so may books waiting to be read, and so many others that I want to read, it's not likely that I'll be joining in on this one. Grammath 28th February 2006 05:32 PM Nah, its not 'cos I don't like reading poetry (something I tell myself I should do more often), its just not very good poetry IMO. Above Vogon standard (the third worst poetry in the universe, for non-"Hitchhikers" fans), but not much. I like short stories and probably read a couple of collections a year on average. I would regard it in the same way as studying a miniature painting versus a vast canvas, both are rewarding in their own ways and the former can still have a lot of detail packed into it by a skilled craftsman. Its not practical to cover an epic timespan; indeed, many of the best short stories examine a single incident or idea and have a small cast of characters - or even a single individual. Also, novels are just as likely to have ambiguous endings and cardboard, stock characters - surely much more frustrasting over 300 pages than 30. The only ones that often don't work for me are crime short stories - its virtually impossible to set up and solve a complex case in such a short space. The honourable exception to this rule is the great Sherlock Holmes. MarkC 1st March 2006 11:21 AM It's at the top of the pile, Stand on Zanzibar is taking me a while though, much as I like Brunner it's a long book and at times can be hard work. Hazel 1st March 2006 12:19 PM My copy was delivered this morning so I shall start it tonight. Mungus 1st March 2006 10:56 PM I started reading it and seem to have drifted away from it about two thirds of the way through. I don't usually read short stories, which seemed like a good reason to give it a go, but I couldn't get involved with them and I found myself skimming through each and forward to the next. I don't feel that I can start any threads on any of the specific stories, because I can't articulate my thoughts on them well enough but look forward to reading other people's reactions and will contribute as and when. Mungus 16th March 2006 07:22 PM I see that this part of the forum has been idle for over a week. Is this because we were all underwhelmed by Smoke and Mirrors or have we just forgotten to post? I have already confessed that I was unimpressed and I'm finding it hard to remember any of the stories now. Does anyone else have anything to add? Opal 16th March 2006 07:36 PM I have to say I haven't read any more of it this week - I've had too much work on, but I really enjoyed the stories I have read. Hopefully this weekend I'll have a chance to read a few more! MarkC 17th March 2006 08:55 AM So far I'm half way through the introduction, only having had 15 minutes yesterday lunchtime for reading, but should have more free time in the next few days. Grammath 17th March 2006 12:53 PM I, too, have not read much more in the last couple of weeks. Its not that I don't like it, but it is one of the more eclectic collections I've come across so there are some stories I like much more than others. As I say, the weakest stuff IMO is the poetry. I've just got to the werewolf story set in Innsmouth, whose title escapes me at the moment. Flingo 17th March 2006 07:11 PM Still working my way through the other "higher priority" books on the TBR mountain. This is currently near the top, where the clouds start forming. Hazel 29th March 2006 04:40 PM Am I right in saying that we are underwhelmed by this book? Not many seem to be posting on it and there is very little discussion. Or are we still reading it? I for one, who enjoyed it initially, now admit that it drifted off in the middle and I have largely forgotten most of it. Where are the people that voted for it? Grammath 29th March 2006 05:06 PM That's been exactly my experience, although I have to say I didn't originally vote for it. I haven't picked it up in a couple of weeks and have become engrossed in novels instead. I guess this was always going to be a risk with a book of short stories. Although I am a big fan of the form, I very rarely read a collection from beginning to end but rather dip in when I'm in the mood for one. Adrian 30th March 2006 01:25 AM That sums it up for me too. I started it and read a few but never felt stongly enough to post anything. I put it to one side to read something else and then it went back to the library. I've noticed previously that sometimes there were fewer posters about the book that there were voters for it. Seems strange to me to vote for a book and then not comment Mungus 30th March 2006 09:26 AM I didn't vote for it but decided to give it a go and had a similar response to Hazel. I made a few aide memoire notes but these no longer make any sense! Time to choose another book? Hazel 30th March 2006 03:22 PM I didn't vote for it either but notice a distinct lack of response from those that did! Opal 30th March 2006 10:26 PM I replied on the other thread but never mind.... I liked this book a lot, but have found it not as compelling to read as a novel. I also went and left it at uni when I moved home for the holidays. Oops. I will read some more eventually....
  22. Rescued Thread Opal 28th February 2006 12:13 AM The Wedding Present I thought I'd start with the first of the stories. Just reading this was enough to convince me that this book was a great buy, and that I'm likely to enjoy the rest of it. While I've enjoyed most of the other stories I've read so far, this one I think is one that will stay with me for a long time. Sorry of that sounds cheesy, but I'm not too great on reviewing things I've read, although I think if all the stories in here affect me as much then I might get good at it! Hazel 2nd March 2006 07:12 PM It's funny but I really didn't fancy this book at all so when it won the vote I thought I wouldn't bother joining in but something made me buy it and after starting it last night I am really glad that I did. We all say that BGO has made us pick up books that we wouldn't normally read but I can emphatically say that I would NEVER have picked this up in a million years! The Wedding Present was a great short story, and definitely the stuff that short stories are made of. It really took a fluffy, chocolate box moment and gave it a macabre twist. Dark, sad, and haunting - great stuff! I liked that the couple kept the present despite reservations and were drawn to reading it throughout their life. It was a good twist on the whole "mystery of a great marriage" question. I am looking forward to reading the rest now and am so glad I decided to join in on this one - especially as I read the book I voted for and it was disappointing! Mungus 2nd March 2006 07:43 PM Although the book as a whole hasn't grabbed me, this story was very good. It very much reminded me of a Roald Dahl 'Tale of the Unexpected' and there isn't much finer praise than that in my book. Not that I've read them for a long time... I wonder if they've dated? Grammath 3rd March 2006 11:44 AM I thought this was one of the best of the stories I have read so far too, well executed even if it is basically a twist on "The Picture of Dorian Grey". I wonder why Gaiman chose to put it into the introduction rather than let it stand alone - there are other stories in the collection with which it could easily have been swapped. Those who don't always read introductions (of whom I am one) could easily miss it. Flingo 8th April 2006 04:30 PM There is a comment in the section about "Troll Bridge" which explains another short story author puts a story in the intro - I guess this had some sort of influence on Gaiman. I've only been reading Smoke and Mirrors this afternoon, but this is by a gerat margin the most powerful story that I have read so far. I, too, didn't see the twist (although I felt like I should have done). A beautifully written and styled short story. ETA - I have just realised how Pinter-esque this title is. It could work quite well as a play, although the letter would have to be a character in it's own right.
  23. Rescued Thread Thumbsucker 4th March 2006 08:19 PM I'm most impressed by the way that Gaiman can turn a story from my childhood and turn it on his head. I love his work because it makes me feel like a kit again, yet his work is clearly adult. I'm always impressed when people see things that seem so obvious when pointed out but I feel that I would never make the connection with in a million years, which is why I enjoy reading others' comments on this site as you are such adept readers. When you look at the description of Snow White what else could she be but a Flingo 9th April 2006 07:15 PM Very clever! I entirely agree, Thumbsucker. A really clever note to end the book with as well - as it seems to bring us back to the stories at the start, but with a clear sense of development as Gaiman explores other themes throughout the stories. I'm not sure where this fits chronologically, but it feels like it is a more recent work. megustaleer 9th April 2006 08:27 PM Now that could have tempted me to read this book!
  24. Rescued Thread Would be good to get the board back for the Smoke and Mirrors discussion at some point Flingo 8th April 2006 06:32 PM Story: Changes What an interesting premise - the discovery of something so coveted, but that has such unusual "side effects" that it shifts the way of the world to such an extent that it becomes almost unrecognisable. Gaiman states that a friend described this as if it "read like the outline for a novel", which is what it actually is. However, I feel it works much better as a short story than it would as a novel. As a short story it plants suggestions and ideas. In novel format it would have to develop and grow these ideas to such an extent that would cause it to lose it's sense of credibility. The setting of the story just after now is effective (the film was produced in 2018). It makes it seem possible enough to be plausible. I feel much more comfortable with the writing style in this story in comparison to some of the earlier ones. The poetry did very little for me, while some seemed too much like autobiography. This story combines realism with readability. Fantastic!
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