Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman


“Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds’ eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas—abstract, invisible, gone once they’ve been spoken—and what could be more frail than that? But some stories, small simple ones about setting out on adventures or people doing wonders, tales of miracles and monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of them have outlasted the lands in which they were created.” ~Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things

I just finished Smoke and Mirrors a collection of short stories and poems by Neil Gaiman. The cover art is a perfect illustration of what the reader will find inside, a fun house ride that is surreal, frightening, funny, ridiculous, touching and sad. Gaiman’s “Snow, Glass, Apples” is a chilling  retelling of Snow White, while “Chivalry” is a quirky, amusing tale of an old woman who stumbles across the Holy Grail in a second-hand store.

As a writer, I particularly liked the story summaries (which hold no spoilers) in the introduction, where Gaiman tries to explain where his story ideas come from. Many of them were written for specific anthologies, he explains, while others were written to amuse himself “or, more precisely, to get an idea or an image out of my head and pinned safely down on paper; which is as good a reason for writing as I know…”

I have to agree.

Smoke and Mirrors

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3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Brandon Brasseaux
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 09:26:31

    Smoke & Mirrors is one of my favorite collections. I’ve enjoyed his novels, but he has a special power in those short stories even the 1 pagers. I’ve read that story about the Troll about 10x.

  2. lorettacasteen
    Sep 22, 2011 @ 09:40:42

    Very true, Brandon. I’m adding to my collection right now. I’ve only read American Gods and Good Omens so far. I’ve already ordered Fragile Things with plans to get more very soon. I also subscribe to his Twittter feed. I fear I may be becoming a Gaiman mini-stalker. 🙂

  3. Margene Deida
    Sep 24, 2011 @ 12:22:45

    “If you live to be a hundred, I want to live to be a hundred minus one day so I never have to live without you.” ~ A. A. Milne

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