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
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.
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
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!
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.
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....
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'.