Monday, December 3, 2007

Short Story Monday - Smoke and Mirrors Part II


Monday is here again. It seems so soon! Time for this week's edition of Short Story Monday.....Smoke and Mirrors by Neil Gaiman. The word for the day: Strange. Each story or poem that I read this week was strange.

Troll Bridge is the story of a little boy. Or at least it starts out that way. This little boy Jack, takes off one summer day, to go exploring. He heads on an old path, through fields and meadows, until he sees an old red bridge, left over from the days of the old railway lines. After he crossed over the bridge, he was met by a troll that wanted to "eat his life". But the little boy was only 7. He hadn't had much of a life, and made a bargain with the troll. He would come back when he had lived some more.

Don't Ask Jack is a very short short-story. Only 3 pages long. It is the tale of an old Jack-in-the-Box. One that was left to the children of the house. But they didn't like it. It was scary. And it called to them at night......

The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories is about an author. He has written a book about the children of Charles Manson. It was the story that just sort of "wrote itself". Not his usual fare. And it was purchased by a major Hollywood studio to be made into a movie. The author flies to America to write the screenplay for said movie. But, as it usually is with Hollywood, nothing is easy. Every person that is "attached" to the movie wants him to change things: parts of the plot, the characters, the outcome. Our frustrated author starts spending more time by the goldfish pool at his hotel and meets one of the groundkeepers, an elderly gentleman who has been working at the hotel for 70 years, and now he tends to the fish.

The White Road is a narrative poem that takes the story of Mr. Fox, which is apparently the "English Version of Bluebeard". (I hadn't heard about this one before). It's utterly creepy and extremely well-written!

And finally, The Queen of Knives is another narrative poem about a young boy that goes to see a Variety show while staying with his grandparents. His grandmother gets pulled up on stage by the conjurer and placed in a box. She is never seen again....

Although I wasn't as impressed with this set of stories as I was the last, I still really enjoyed them. I hate Jack-in-the-boxes anyway. They rank right up there with clowns and those creepy ventriloquist dummies for me!! And Gaiman is just such a good writer!! An example:

"I loved her gray eyes, and her fine light-brown hair, and her gawky way of walking (like a fawn just learning to walk which sounds really dumb, for which I apologize): I saw her chewing gum, when I was thirteen, and I fell for her like a suicide from a bridge."

I don't know what makes me love this line so much, but I do. It's not the most eloquent of prose, but it hits you right in the chest!! I completely understand how this boy feels. And I think that's it in a nutshell. When I read Gaiman, I feel very close to his characters. I understand them. And this just keep me coming back for more!!
Till next Monday.......

12 comments:

Carl V. said...

The White Road and Queen of Knives are two of the creepier Gaiman stories that I really, really enjoy. I find myself really thinking about just what happened whenever I read/listen to these stories, especially at the end. There is just something about them.

I listened to Don't Ask Jack the other day on my copy of the M is for Magic audio and it was great hearing Neil read it. Have you seen the Lisa Snellings-Clark sculpture it is based on? Creepy.

Stephanie said...

Carl - I loved them both!! Like I said, I didn't like this group as much as last week's, but that doesn't mean they weren't good. In the intro, it said Gaiman wrote it based off the sculpture. I can only imagine!! Ewwww...

Chris said...

The Goldfish Pool and Queen of Knives are both two of the one's I remember really enjoying from this collection. You have some great one's coming up soon!! Definitely check out the Don't Ask Jack sculpture if you can find it...it's pretty cool. If I find a link, I'll send it your way.

John Mutford said...

I love how he seems to have captured that dark undertone of Grimm's fairytales with Troll Bridge.

Booklogged said...

Looks like I better pick up a copy of Gaiman's short stories. You all make them sound so good.

Wanted to let you know that I tagged you for a meme. You can find it HERE.

Carl V. said...

Stephanie, here is a link to the Don't Ask Jack piece:

http://www.lisasnellings.com/limited.html

Debi said...

Great job reviewing these short stories Stephanie! I'm horrible at reviewing anything, and short stories are definitely the hardest, in my opinion. I must get my hands on this book more sooner than later! I've read the first of those two (in M is for Magic). I don't know why, but The Troll Bridge just didn't appeal to me all that much. But I loved, loved, loved Don't Ask Jack...so creepy...definitely check out the sculpture!

Kailana said...

I stuck you in the Advent Calendar for the 17th, just to give a bit of distance between the doubling up days. Does that work for you?

Nicola said...

I've added this to my amazon wishlist!

Andi said...

Ooh, I do like that line. The suicide bit is particularly effective. Must move this book up on my TBR.

Book Calendar said...

My favorite Neil Gaiman story is A Study In Emerald , Sherlock Holmes meets Cthulhu. You can get it from Neil Gaiman's journal, or blog if you want to call it that. he has a few exclusives there.
http://www.neilgaiman.com/exclusive/shortstories/

Jean Pierre said...

wow - i must say those stories sound incredibly varied! really very different.