Monday, January 21, 2008

Short Story Monday - Smoke and Mirrors The Final Chapter

It is a sad day in the Toland household. For today we must bid a fond farewell to Mr. Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors. Oh, but it was a fun ride! And to me, it seems that Neil saved the very best for last!

Desert Wind is a poem. It's about a man that had been in the desert and had found an oasis. It was beautiful....and then it was gone. One day, he hoped to find it again.

Tastings is actually kind of an erotic story. It's about a man who makes his living having sex with women. And he makes a lot of money doing it. The reason he's so good at what he does, is he has a 6th sense of sorts. When he's with a woman, he "knows" what she likes. By touching someone, he can tell what her desires are. Until the day he is hired by a famous celebrity......

Babycakes is a short, 2-page story written to benefit PETA. According to the man himself, "it's the only thing I've ever written that has disturbed me". For the record, I know what he means. I was so chilled by the time I read the last sentence, I had to put the book down. So frightening were the words of this story, that I had to read it to my husband. (Mike then proceeded to ask me if this is the kind of thing I read all the time. No wonder I'm such a nut case!) There is nothing I can really say about it, except read it for yourself. And I dare you not to get chills.

Murder Mysteries is a wonderful story. A man is stuck in LA, trying to get back to England. His flights have been repeatedly canceled because of the weather in London. One night, in the strange city, this man was wondering around close to his hotel, having a cigarette, when a street man asked him if he could buy one off of him. He offered him a quarter for a smoke, thinking that was a fair price. The man told him to keep his money, but gave him the cigarette anyway. Since the street man couldn't take the cigarette for nothing, he offered him a story as payment. The story was a true story, the street man said. It was about angels, and the time before the world had been created. An angel had died, and this street man, who was really Raguel, the Vengeance of the Lord, was called by Lucifer to find out who had killed him.

And finally there is Snow, Glass, Apple. A vampire story. The story of a young witch who marries a king and becomes a step mother to his young daughter. A girl with white skin and black hair. A girl that is scary to be around. A girl that has a hunger. This story is a sort of weird, twisted take-off of Snow White....if Snow White were a vampire!!

In this final collection of stories, I found a couple of real gems. I love, love, loved both Murder Mysteries and Snow, Glass, Apples. Two of my favorites in the entire book!! Throughout the entire book, Gaiman has taken legends and folklore, and made them his own. I can't stress enough how much I love this man!! His writing is simple and beautiful. And creepy and weird. Fascinating and repelling. And I'm going to miss them!! I can't say I liked this book better than Fragile Things. I think they were both pretty evenly matched. But I can say, I now have a new appreciation for the short story. I will never doubt again that a short story can pack the punch of a novel.

With that....we bid adieu to this wonderful collection. Hopefully, you all enjoyed my reviews. If you haven't read this collection, please do. I'd love to hear all your thoughts about it!!


Nymeth said...

I have been anxiously waiting for you to get to Snow Glass Apples ever since you started the book...I knew you'd love it :D It's definitely my favourite.

Kind of erotic is a bit of an understatement when it comes to Tastings :P I think it's funny how it took him years to write that one because he kept getting embarrassed.

And I agree that Babycakes is really disturbing.

Nicola said...

Guess what I added to my shopping cart last night when I placed a book order?

Yep! I will soon have my very own copy of Smoke and Mirrors. I can't wait.

It is kind of sad that your Gaiman short story posts are going to end. Have you decided whose short stories you will be reading next?

Stephanie said...

Nymeth - I knew you were waiting for Snow, Glass, Apples!! It was definitely creepy. And I really couldn't help but think of Snow White! Yes, it's definitely one of my favorites out of the whole book!

I had to laugh when I read the intro on Tastings!! Too embarrassed to finish it?? Funny!!

Babycakes is one that will linger on for a LONG time!!

Nicola - Yeah!! I can't wait to see what you think of it!! I have no idea what I will read for next week. I'll have to hit the library and see. You've posted some great sounding short stories. I'll have to see if I can find them!!

Chris said...

I think that Mike's comments on Babycakes are hilarious! was a bit disturbing to say the least and I'm sure PETA loved it!

I loved Snow Glass Apples and Murder Mysteries too and Murder Mysteries is available as a graphic novel just to let you know! I've been wanting to get it for ages.

I agree with you that he saved some of the best for last in this collection. It's sad that you're finished :( I was sad myself when I finished this one. I can't wait for him to write some more! There's a book coming out soon called Love Letters that has a new short story by him in it and I've read it already. It's awesome! It's a love letter...duh..but a creepy one!

Stephanie said...

Chris - It IS sad, isn't it?? Gaiman has been a staple in my Short Story Mondays now for so long, I'm going to feel lost without him!

Oh cool....I think Murder Mysteries might just be my favorite of all of them. I was just so blown away by this one. When you think of Lucifer, it's hard to remember he was a fallen angel and so compassionate at one time. All you think about is the fact that's he's a "bad" guy. This story really had a neat ending. I'll have to hunt for the Graphic novel.

And yeah...Mike thinks I'm a nut case, and now he has a reason why!! I'm sure you right....PETA had to love it.

Andi said...

I reallyyyy should've put this one on my short story challenge list! Urrrg! *kicking self*

Ladytink_534 said...

I can't help but love short stories and anthologies! I'll have to try this book as soon as I can find a second. Snow, Glass, Apple sounds really interesting!

Melody said...

Wow, I have to put this on my to-buy list!! Some short stories/anthologies can be a great read even though they are well...short. ;)

Carl V. said...

Snow, Glass, Apples is one of my favorites. If you ever have the time there is a really great audio production of it with Bebe Neuwirth playing the lead. I think it is still available free on the sci fi channel audio site. Googling it may come up with something.

Debi said...

Okay, here it is Tuesday again. And here I am again dying to pick up some short stories! And today, I'm really going to do it, yes, I am. I'm finally going to get back to Gaiman's M is for Magic. And I have you to thank for it! Thanks Stephanie!

monster paperbag said...

babycakes is just marvelous :)..