- Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
- Publisher: Avon (August 30, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0380789027
- ISBN-13: 978-0380789023
- Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 6.8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars See all reviews (245 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #59,800 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions Mass Market Paperback – August 30, 2005
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This anthology of short stories, and the occasional story poem, is vintage Neil Gaiman: quirky, sometimes very funny, often dark and disturbing. Most have been published before, but are hard to find elsewhere and cover all of Gaiman's writing life. As Gaiman says in his introduction, "most of the stories in this book are about love in some form or another," but not requited love. The stories in Smoke and Mirrors touch on all of Gaiman's themes: sex, death, dreams, and the end of the world. From "Chivalry," about the Holy Grail and where it finally ended up, to "Troll Bridge," a very adult version of "The Three Billy Goats Gruff"; from "Bay Wolf," a story poem that melds Beowulf and Baywatch, with interesting results, to "Murder Mysteries," which is about a murder, but also about angels, God's will, and Evil, these stories leave lasting impressions. Fans of Ray Bradbury's short stories and of Gaiman's other works will enjoy this collection. --Nona Vero --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Imaginative twists on old legends and frightening glimpses into the impossible combine to form this impressive collection of 30 stories and poems by the author of Neverwhere and co-creator of The Sandman graphic novels. Each entry skirts the edges of a puncture in reality through which something dark and mysterious peeks. Then it moves on and the apparition is hidden away again, but not forgotten. The narratives follow a dream logic: The angel Raguel, the Vengeance of the Lord, can bum a cigarette off a youth in L.A. and tell him the truth behind Lucifer's fall ("Murder Mysteries"), and nonchalant assassins can be found in the Yellow Pages under pest control ("We Can Get Them for You Wholesale"). The bizarre and disturbing essence of the stories is highlighted by their background of absolute normalcy. Their prose is simple yet evocative, and Gaiman's characters are textured with well-defined personalities. Because the characters treat the unreal as ordinary, the eeriness of what unfolds has all the more impact. In "Chivalry," a woman finds the Holy Grail in a secondhand shop, and Galahad must trade something for it that will look just as good on her mantle. Demons take over London in "Cold Colors," because the devil has learned how to network and God can't get "saintware" up and running. The intriguing world behind these pages is indeed smoke and mirrors, just a step or a word or a story away from our own.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top customer reviews
Every reviewer has a favorite in the book. Some like "Snow, Glass, Apples"; some like "The Goldfish Pool..." or "Troll Bridge". I'm partial to "Chivalry". But there is a lot of fill here. Many of the best stories have appeared elsewhere. Also an overlong introduction and a rather indulgent piece that reads like a collection of blog entries on each story tend to dampen one's enthusiasm.
For what it's worth, some of the best stories, ("Troll Bridge", "Chivalry", etc.), were reprinted ten years after this book was released in the collection titled "M is For Magic". That book, also available on Amazon, has a much better selection than this one does, so if you can only swing one Gaiman short story collection, you might want to consider that.
The missing stars are not for the content.
(Kindle version) On many stories the formatting is horrible. (I've checked on different devices including an official Kindle in portrait mode with only one column with default typeface) the effect is like what you get when you copy an e-mail to a word processing document and end up with a bunch of bizarre returns in the middle of sentences. It makes Mr. Gaiman's sometimes interesting sentence construction close to completely incomprehensible and only a little better after I figured out what was going on. Unless you're reading a free book, OCR scanned from multiple sources and never edited, I don't think there is any excuse for really bad formatting these days.
For me, Neil Gaiman books are hit 'n miss. I either love them ... or not!
Neverwhere, and also American Gods were awesome!! But this book, Smoke and Mirrors, was a complete "miss" for me.
I want to add that I also read Caraline, and Anansi Boys ... also very good!!