Smoke and Mirrors Short Fiction and Illusions PDF ☆

Smoke and Mirrors Short Fiction and Illusions A guilty pleasure sure but with Ray Bradbury's death I'd suggest that Neil Gaiman is the best storyteller we have todayConsider the words of Harry Bailly he of the Tabard Inn not George's brother And which of yow that bereth hym best of alle That is to seyn that telleth in this caas Tales of best sentence and moost solaas Shal have a soper at oure aller cost And I'd buy Gaiman a meal or three for this sundry collection of tales pulled together from over the years and published in Smoke and MirrorsYou might think I'm just showing off with the Middle English but I don't think it's too much of a stretch to draw parallels between Gaiman and Chaucer Chaucer's Tales cover a wide range of genres from the romance to the fabliau to the beast fable to the exemplum and everything in between and Gaiman uses just as wide a contemporary pallet as Chaucer employed from the Middle Ages Gaiman moves from the hard boiled to the horror story; he blends prose and poetry with sci fi the sacred and the secular; he has an eroticoffering here that transcends mommy porn; heck he even writes a sestina with vampires in it that worksand that alone has to testify to the genius of the man Elsewhere Gaiman does everything from the full blown novel to YA to children's lit; he's written screenplays and comic books and just about everything he does is golden Sure he's had some missteps and not everything in Smoke and Mirrors succeeds at the same level but hey the Friar's Tale is a bit dull and the Priest's lengthy sermon is practically unreadableAnd like Chaucer working from Bocaccio and Petrarch and the Thousand and One Nights among other sources Gaiman is often at his best when he is reworking earlier stories and authors especially fairy tales and folk tales His version of Snow White here is a fascinating retelling that's going to stick with me for a long time and one of my favorites in the book Shoggoth's Old Peculiar grows out of Lovecraft And even though it's goofy as hell I even like his pastiche of Beowulf and Baywatch with Larry Talbot thrown in as an added plusFinally and thanks for sticking with me this long Gaiman addresses many of the same concerns Chaucer had greed and hypocrisy dreams and where they come from what makes a good marriage the role of women in a male dominated society and on and on the intertwining roles of magic and technology in Cold Colors try the Franklin's Tale but through them all both authors are really interested in the whole idea of stories and story telling and what makes a good story And what that is if you go back to Harry Bailly is that right blend of best sentence and moost solaas and Neil Gaiman just about always gets it right This collection of short works some not uite complete is maybe a must read for real Gaiman fans who read everything he does 4 stars for them but not really for anyone else only 1 star for the general audience And I say that as one of those fans I really like what Gaiman does both in traditional and graphic novel form but Smoke and Mirrors is not representative of his best work Basically it is a collection of things he never bothered to give a final polish to Much of SM is things that were just workbook exercises not intended for publication Some fun ideas and entertaining for the fan or for those who want to study how he develops ideas but others should try American Gods Anansi Boys Neverwhere Good Omens with TPratchett or even Coraline or his Sandman graphic novels It does however contain a few real gems for fans warning different editions of the SM varied the collection slightly so referring to specific stories may be confusing when discussing the book I keep saying one Neil Gaiman book and I'll figure out what the big deal is Spoiler I haven't yet Though I did enjoy some of these stories indicated by a There's far that weren't enjoyableIntroduction PLEASE skip this is so so long It's a short story in and of itself Though technically he hid another short story within that The Wedding Present Originally written as a wedding present this marriage slowly but surely sinks to the pits of despair Chivalry A cute story about an elderly lady snapping up the Holy Grail at a bargain at the thrift shop Later republished in M is for Magic Nicholas Was A 100 word story centered on St Nicholas for one of Gaiman's Christmas cardsThe Price this cat deserves a medal a ball of yarn and a tuna fillet for defending this family against the devil Republished in M Is for Magic Troll Bridge Retelling of the three Billy Goats Gruff While this started on a high note undue time is used to describe the troll's flaccid genitalia Un ironically troll acts like a dick Republished in M Is for MagicDon't Ask Jack Menacing Jack in the Box As if I needed another reason to never buy one Republished in M Is for MagicThe Goldfish Pool and Other Stories Almost written as a reflection for Neil Gaiman on hollywood I was not a fan of his commentsEaten Scenes from a Moving picture please Gaiman why does everything need to be so sex explicit Excuse me as I scrub my eyesThe White Road This wasn't memorableueen of Knives well written by not memorableThe Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch The underground circus leads to the disappearing of one Mrs Finch I wasn't a fan of the book and wasn't a fan of the short story It made too many leaps Changes Once again a Gaiman story became weirdly sexual I really should start expecting this A man discovers the cure for cancer which has the side effect of changing a person's gender Now the world is populated by nearly immortal pill popping gender switchers I hesitate to call everyone trans since this is done so reversibly and recreationalyThe Daughter of Owls A girl was found with some owls The locals hate herShoggoth's Old Peculiar H P Lovecraft inspired cult y New England tale Did like how he portrayed the pub though Virus Honestly wasn't that memorable Looking for the Girl A kid looking at a dirty mag spots the most beautiful girl As an adult he finds her again in the mag but she looks exactly the same Logically he devotes his life to becoming the best dirty mag photographer in hopes of meeting this chick in person My interpretation A vampire wanted a free photo shoot every few years and went to a magazine to do itOnly the End of the World Again Richly worded not an interesting plotBay Wolf Baywatch Beowulf Surprisingly uirky and fun Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot Each of the Major Arcana first 22 of the 78 tarot cards in a deck is interpreted through a short story We Can Get Them For You Wholesale How good would the bargain need to be to end the world Despite the dark implications this was a fun readOne Life Furnished in Early Moorcock High school kid who wanted to write and is a huge fan of a series He mail orders a book and never pays for itCold Colors Short poem involving magic and computers The Sweeper of Dreams prose piecewaxes poetic about dreams and their implicationsForeign Parts Sudden sexuality again A man is slowly taken over by a cognizant venereal disease Copious mentions of STDs and masturbationVampire Sestina A vampire poemMouse The married couple's house is infested The man buys a humane mousetrap while his wife seems to get an abortion The man seems to have no reaction to the abortion Upon finding a mouse trapped he sets the mouse free outside The Sea Change Lyrical poem about mermaids and the oceanHow Do You Think It Feels Man goes to conference Man meets hot girl Man cheats on wife despite having a couple of kids He justifies it kids are stupid wife is lame When We Went to See the End of the World by Dawnie Morningside age 11¼ Written from the perspective of a child as the end of the world occurs Unexpectedly chillingDesert Wind Man gets lost in the desert and is foundTastings Male Prostitute Female Celebrity Prostitute has powers which lead him to be amazing in bed essentially he reads the minds of his clients without realizing it and he can't read Celebrity's and thus is sucking not literallywell maybe a bit in bed The mundane conversation as they try out positions made this one marginally tolerable Mostly I was cringing away from the pagesIn the End Genesis creation in reverse Not particularly memorableBabycakes Just take that title literallyMurder Mysteries The first murder in heaven as it's investigated by the angel Raguel Snow Glass Apples Finally FINALLY I thought as I got to this one It's a retelling of Snow White with a huge reversal Snow is evil and the stepmother is attempting to hold together the kingdom from the terror of one very cruel Snow What ruined it The weird sex bits I would've loved this story if A Young Snow as in not over 18 like 12 or younger hadn't blown a traveling monk before killing him AND B if the prince wasn't into necrophilia when he screwed first the stepmother and then her daughter It just completely threw the whole story off Without it I would've really enjoyed this creepy retellingYouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Snapchat mirandareads Happy Reading 'Smoke and Mirrors' is the first of two short story collections written by Neil Gaiman This title was first published in 1998 while 'Fragile Things' came out in 2006 Having read 'Fragile Things' mere months ago I was doing uite a bit of comparison between the two as I worked my way through 'Smoke and Mirrors' While there are a lot of similarities between the two there are also many differencesBoth collections involve Gaiman doing what he does best that is taking our own myths fables and folklore tweaking them to better resonate with our modern culture and handing them back to us complete with the grit and gristle that were absent from the versions that we received as children While this seems to be an over arching theme to most of the stories in 'Fragile Things' it still shows up occasionally in 'Smoke and Mirrors' along with so much else Gaiman takes the reader to so many places throughout these stories These include a couple of nods to writers that surely influenced him along the way Lovecraft and Moorcock specifically a writer struggling through a screenplay that has been watered down by the movie studio discovering the legendary Hollywood of old and political intrigue amongst the angels in heaven Lawrence Talbot also makes an appearance in a tale involving the Wolf Man Gaiman's books are usually shelved in the Sci FiFantasy section at the average bookstore which I think is a bit of a disservice as these stories are so much diverse than the typical view of the Fantasy genre that involves touchy feely knights riding around on horses and tends to prejudice the typical reader to that genre negativelyA tip to any readers who are in the habit of skipping book introductions Gaiman actually hides a story within the introduction of this book as a payoff to those who religiously read the introduction That sort of cleverness suckers me in every timeIt may be unwise to compare the stories in 'Smoke and Mirrors' to each other and to 'Fragile Things' as both books represent of a compilation of Gaiman stories that appeared in other publications over a particular period of his writing career versus something that was put together as an intentional unified collection However as it is great fun to wildly speculate I believe that the stories in 'Smoke and Mirrors' are bolder than the ones in the later collection As most of these stories were written around the time that 'Sandman' was finishing its run I'm wondering if the reason for this was to prove to any naysayers that Gaiman was a serious writer and not just that comic book guyThese stories may not be something that would be discussed in a college level literature class with the austere professor that lives and dies by the canon but I don't think that is Gaiman's intention as a writer He comes from the storyteller tradition and I feel that such a thing is just as important in feeding one's imagination and intellect as the heavy literature now and again Apparently I am not a fan of his short stories they are bad I gave his other short story collection book three stars and that was being kind This one is getting two because I am all out of kindnessA better review to come Here is my attempt at a better review Normally I would delete the prereview BS but I like it this time so it stays This is the second short story collection I have read from this author and they have both been thumbs down experiences I definitely have a lovehate relationship with his work The gray area in between is not a friend of mineWHAT I LIKED Maybe two storiesWHAT I DIDN’T LIKE Everything elseI can’t decide which description matches my feelings towards it OPTION A The publisher said give me anything you have and the author decided to present him with the crumpled paper balls of failed ideasOROPTION B The author feels that all of his ideas are shareworthy and has not a care in the world regarding what readers might think of themOROPTION C I am all out of sugarcoating today as well as shits to give so here is my true feelings about a read that without a doubt disappointed meORA little of option A a little of option B and all of option C DING DING DINGWE HAVE A WINNER Initially read in 1999 or thereabouts Not reviewed at the timeUpon re reading “The Goldfish Pond and Other Stories” by Neil GaimanI'm usually not that interested in the whole 'glamour of Hollywood' theme but this is probably the best commentary on it I've ever read Clearly partially autobiographical this tells the story of a British writer who's flown out to LA to talk about converting his bestselling novel into a movie A shifting cast of film execs gradually morph his story past recognition Meanwhile he gets to know the elderly groundskeeper at his decaying hotel who tells him stories of the glory days of silent films Multi layered ironically humorous but ultimately poignant Beautifully doneOther included pieces from the wikiThe included stories and poems are different between some of the editions The US UK and eBook editions have some differences in the stories they contain see table to right† Not in US print version‡ Not in eBook version Appears in eBook version as AppleReading the Entrails The Wedding Present Chivalry written for an anthology by Marty GreenbergNicholas Was The PriceTroll Bridge retelling of The Three Billy Goats Gruff written for the anthology Snow White Blood Red by Ellen Datlow and Terri WindlingDon't Ask JackEaten Scenes from a Moving picture †‡The White Road A narrative poem ueen of Knives A narrative poem The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch †‡ Changes The Daughter of Owls Shoggoth's Old Peculiar Virus Written for the anthology Digital Dreams by David Barrett Looking for the Girl Commissioned by Penthouse for their 20th anniversary issueOnly the End of the World AgainBay Wolf A story poem retelling BeowulfFifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot † We Can Get Them For You Wholesale One Life Furnished in Early Moorcock Written for an anthology of Elric stories by Michael MoorcockCold Colors The Sweeper of Dreams Foreign PartsVampire Sestina A poem originally published in Fantasy Tales and later reprinted in the Mammoth Book of Vampires by Stephen JonesMouse written for Touch Wood edited by Pete CrowtherThe Sea ChangeHow Do You Think It Feels †‡ When We Went to See the End of the World by Dawnie Morningside age 11¼ Desert Wind Tastings Included in Sirens by Ellen Datlow and Terri WindlingIn the End † Babycakes Murder Mysteries written for the anthology Midnight Graffiti by Jessie HorstingSnow Glass Apples 25 stars a few gems but way too many narrative poems and meh stories Bearing in mind I read this on my kindle so some stories weren't included in the version I read Also this is hella long All ratings including notes indicates favouriteThe Wedding Present Yes I religiously read introductions4In which a picturesue couple are given a uaint wedding present that seems to be a 'retelling' of their coupling; it spins a story of how their marriage could have went wrong Though this premise may seem outlandish and bizarre it's terribly relevant and poses significant uestions about the lives we choose to live It's sad to think that some Gaiman fans miss this story;it's precious Chivalry35uite lovely The relationship was sweet and Mrs Whitaker was charming to read Nicholas Was45An excellent and precisely one hundred word twist on St Nicholas aka Santa Claus Ho ho hoThe Price4Ooh symbolism symbolism I adore this story possibly because I'm so fond of cats The idea of a knightly cat guardian is wonderful Troll Bridge35I enjoyed this tale but something lead me to believe that it would be than it was when it finished so I wasn't as impressed with the ending Nevertheless it was immensely thought provoking and preoccupying Don't Ask Jack5Horrifying afflicting and downright disturbing Yep one of my favourite stories out of the entire book The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories3I really liked the vintage Hollywood theme but it didn't pull me in I think I maintained interest simply because it's a uasi account of personal experience for Gaiman as he admitted at the start of the book Riddled with idioms and scathing remarks on Hollywood it's very entertaining and humorous but not gripping enough for meEaten Scenes from a Moving Picture3ARGH I have written on my notepad 'SEXSEXSEXSEXSEX GROSSED OUT NEED SHOWER'That pretty much summarizes how I feel about this story Bloomin' heteros The White Road35Cool kind of story you can read over and over again and interpret in many different waysueen Of Knives45Very alluring; I analysed this to death I fathomed all sorts of underlying messages and things I could take away Personally I took this idea of being trapped in a loveless marriage to result in the disappearance In addition it's also delectably written I devoured this story in one bite Changes4Exceedingly powerful especially the end The mere fact that Rajit a Scientist was referring to the people as 'Angels' was of pivotal importance to me I took away my own meanings for this some of which I'm certain Gaiman wasn't even attempting to convey I thought the significance of 'Angels' meant that a conceivably genderless society or a society in which gender holds no meaning could be perceived as being that of an angelic peaceful community That's just a fraction of what I took away from this thoughThe Daughter of Owls2I didn't find this story interesting The title was inviting but the tale disappointed I followed everything that happened with little interest as to what would eventually happenShoggoth's Old Peculiar2Looking back I don't even remember this story Needless to say I wasn't that impressed Beautifully written as always oh Gaiman you wonderful thing but with little uality for me to recall I'll duplicate the comment for above I didn't find this story interesting The title was inviting but the tale disappointed I followed everything that happened with little interest as to what would eventually happenVirus3Interesting cryptic scary It reminded me of that short film titled Virus too Looking for the Girl445This reminded me a lot of Death in Venice and whilst I didn't have the opportunity to picture a beautiful prepubescent boy walking among the streets of Italy I still engaged with the divine narrative that retained this sense of beauty never being able to be obtained I'm also reminded of McConaughey'sBay Wolf3I'm always captivated by mythical creatures so I relished this little anecdote though I don't remember much about it probably because I was nodding off Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot5A collection within a collection an array of segmented texts that evoke mystery and awe I loved the relativity toward Tarot cards in particular especially 'The Fool' We Can Get Them for You Wholesale45Hilarious and ambiguously intriguing 'They'd been ready for a long time but they had to be asked' It reminded me of Vampires having to be granted permission to cross the threshold into our world One Life Furnished in Early Moorcock3All I have written down is 'Something missing liked the beginning though' Very informative April Cold Colors25All I remember is confusion The Sweeper of Dreams35A magical ideal one that need not be uestioned in the unknown and mystical land of dreams Foreign Parts35Excusing the awkward descriptions of symptoms deriving from venereal disease the alienation of the lower regions of the protagonists body is open to interpretation The real interest I had was determining whether this was a tale of possession or dispossessionVampire Sestina5Sensual and delightful it certainly appealed to my extreme love of Vampiresue material Kudos to Gaiman also for succeeding in writing uite possibly the toughest form of verse out thereMouse2Curious but a tale that scurried away pretty easily from my train of thought The Sea Change4I love the sea and auatic life in general therefore I was pretty gripped with this story I'm also a sucker for mermaids When We Went To See The End of The World by DawnieMorningside age 11 144This really disturbed me I don't know why it just seemed like the complete representation of evil It maintained the sense of inventive fictitious evil whilst holding the innocence and relativity of real life The most blatant representation of this is the mere use of the narration of an 11 year old Desert Wind3Nicely told anecdote; it really brings forth the sensation of regret and longing to be somewhere else which is the reason I read Gaimans books in the first place I would like to go with the people too Tastings45Oh sexy times I actually loved the idea of something so freuently deemed emotionless or meaningless in the promiscuity of modern society becoming a personal necessity to someone's character To be frank I pried open this story like some sort of literary autopsy and picked apart meanings and interpretations for hours Babycakes4 'We'll figure something out' An almost dystopian feel to this which I always admire Very haunting and inhuman yet possible Foreshadowing the horror of human existence Superb Murder Mysteries4I'm not Christian so forgive me for not fully immersing myself in the retelling of creation or rather Gaiman's 'take' on it I relished the wholehearted symbolism throughout though Snow Glass and Apples3I expected this to be one of my favourites but sadly it's something that I feel suffered from my high expectations I originally heard of this in Gaiman's extra in Stardust and thought it was going to be magnificent It was pretty good and will forever leave a 'stain' on the Snow White tale for me personally but truthfully I was expecting I originally intended to read one story per night as it seemed pretty easy to do so; all of the stories are fairly uniue and eclectic However I was far too engaged to pass up the opportunity to finish the book all at once I even made notes on each tale after finishing them Looking back it’s uite hard to give an overall summary It’s a wonderful disturbing downright peculiar collection of stories that spins you from one adventure to the next weaved in with Gaiman's imaginary genius Some were decent others spectacular few just okay I freuently sensed some stories were ones that either needed to be developed or ones that didn't have enough promise and shouldn't have made it onto the pageOverall rating 35 Neil Gaiman never disappointsThat's what this book is smokes and mirrors an interesting collection of short stories and poems A diverse mix of crazy dark engaging weird and hilarious An elderly widow finds the Holy Grail beneath an old fur coat A stray cat fights and refights a terrible nightly battle to protect his unwary adoptive family from unimaginable evil A young couple receives a wedding gift that reveals a chilling alternative history of their marriage These tales and much await in this extraordinary book revealing one of our most gifted storytellers at the height of his powers Includes extra material exclusive to this Headline Review edition

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