by velocibadgergirl

Sunday, November 11, 2007

"Bookish Landscapes" on Things Look Like Things


Wednesday, November 07, 2007

M is for Magic by Neil Gaiman

This book would make a great introduction for someone just starting out with Neil Gaiman's work. It's officially a young adult book, though a few of the stories seem a little heavy for young middle-schoolers. As such, it's a quick but thoroughly enjoyable read. In the introduction, Gaiman says that M is for Magic was inspired by Ray Bradbury's short story collections for young adult readers, R is for Rocket and S is for Space.

Three of the stories are repeats from Fragile Things:  "October in the Chair," "How to Talk to Girls at Parties," and "Sunbird." As before, I really liked "October," found "How to Talk to Girls" a little abstract, and thought "Sunbird" was good but a little long. Of the new ones, I especially enjoyed these:

  • "The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds," which retells the nursery rhyme as a noirish detective story

  • "Chivalry," in which an old lady finds the Holy Grail at a thrift shop

  • "The Witch's Headstone," about a living boy who is being raised by the ghosts in a graveyard (and who seems to have a vampire for a guardian)

One story ("The Price"), about a black cat who fights the devil every night to protect the family that has taken him in as a stray, started out sort of whimsically but ended up sad. "Troll Bridge" had a semi-sad ending, but I liked it. "The Price" just left me wishing he'd given the cat a victory at the end rather than ominous ambiguity.

In the introduction, Gaiman writes, "Stories you read when you're the right age never quite leave you. You may forget who wrote them or what the story was called. Sometimes you'll forget precisely what happened, but if a story touches you it will stay with you, haunting the places in your mind that you rarely ever visit." Many of the stories in M is for Magic fit the bill, and as a collection it is cohesive and enjoyable.