I love curling up with a Neil Gaiman book, be it a novel or a collection of short stories, for me he is literary comfort food – engaging, a joy to lose myself in, and a spark for my own imagination.
His collection of short stories and poems gathered in this volume, some of which I’ve encountered before, is no exception. There are tales filled with whimsy and wonder, hints of terrible things, and awe-inspiring sights, all crafted in Gaiman’s descriptive and vivid manner of storytelling.
For me there were two standouts. The first is A Study in Emerald an interesting, and slightly unnerving combination of a classic Sherlock Holmes tale with Lovecraftian overtones, tying in with the Old Ones. I really liked this one.
The second was The Day the Saucers Came. I won’t give anything about this poem away, except that I loved the ending, and the take away I got from it.
There are a number of delightful tales in this collection, the Hugo winning How to Talk to Girls at Parties, which I had read before, Pages From a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma and Louisville, Kentucky, an American Gods sequel novella called The Monarch of the Glen.
Also included is the thoughtful and insightful, The Problem of Susan, regarding Susan’s fate following her adventures in Narnia, the playful poem, Instructions, the incredibly funny Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire.
Gaiman’s writing style continues to fascinate me, and every time I feel close to finding a moment to express any creativity, I reign myself in a touch, and try to find a way to craft and tell stories as well as him. To conjure images as easily as he does a turn of phrase or perfectly placed descriptor.
He inspires me.
There are a number of stories running about in my head, and I look forward to the moment when work, blog and life allow me a chance to get some of them down on paper. Until then I will continue to visit the magical realms that Gaiman creates between sheafs of paper and delight and fear the inhabitants I meet there.
When friends and acquaintances ask me where they should start with Gaiman (I was introduced via Neverwhere), it’s easy to say Sandman or American Gods, but I always point them toward his short story collections, I find it gives a broader sample of the types of tales Gaiman spins and I haven’t come across one that I haven’t enjoyed on some level.
Pick one up today!