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Smoke And Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions [Paperback]

Neil Gaiman
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (67 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 17 2008 P.S.

In the deft hands of Neil Gaiman, magic is no mere illusion . . . and anything is possible. In Smoke and Mirrors, Gaiman's imagination and supreme artistry transform a mundane world into a place of terrible wonders—where an old woman can purchase the Holy Grail at a thrift store, where assassins advertise their services in the Yellow Pages under "Pest Control," and where a frightened young boy must barter for his life with a mean-spirited troll living beneath a bridge by the railroad tracks. Explore a new reality, obscured by smoke and darkness yet brilliantly tangible, in this extraordinary collection of short works by a master prestidigitator. It will dazzle your senses, touch your heart, and haunt your dreams.


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Smoke And Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions + Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders + Stardust
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Product Description

From Amazon

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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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Oct. 28 2013
By Mira
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved the diversity in these stories. Some of them were dark, others humorous, but all of them were worth reading.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding delivery Aug. 4 2011
By Reader
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Normally, I am not a fan of short stories but these were amazing. Even the introduction was amazing. I recommend not skipping it. Some of the stories in here keep popping into my head months after reading them. This is a magical collection.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Just can't get enough Jan. 12 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Bought a second and third copy and gave it to 2 of my friends. Need I say more? This is an awesome book!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Smoke and Mirros Aug. 26 2009
Format:Paperback
Neil Gaiman has been named as one of the top ten living post-modern writers (the Dictionary of Literary Biography). A prolific creator of comics, drama, poetry, prose and song lyrics, he's also been called the new face of horror fiction. You can even find him active in other media such as blogging, film, journalism, radio and television.

His New York Times best-selling novel, American Gods, was awarded the Bram Stoker, Locus, Hugo, Nebula and SFX awards.

Anansi Boys, closely related to American Gods, has elements of comedy, horror, romance, the supernatural and even humour.

His collection of short fiction, Smoke and Mirrors, dark and unique, has been compared to the works of H. P. Lovecraft, Harlan Ellison, Ray Bradbury and Stephen King (who is, himself, a fan of the author).

Better known for his classic work, The Sandman, a collection of modern, adult comics, Gaiman is a forty-something Englishman who now lives in the U.S.

I've read all three of the books mentioned. My 17 year-old son, a fan of The Sandman, bought them and insisted I devote some time to them. He figured if I was a fan of Stephen King, a horror writer who is arguably the finest story teller around, I just had to love Gaiman. He was right.

I can't think of anyone who has created a mythology quite like Gaiman's. His haunting vision of the landscape of modern Gods makes my skin crawl, yet I find myself unable to leave his work alone. His writing is like a drug that hooks you and leaves you an addict who must have more.

If you're new to the horror genre, I'd recommend adding this author to your reading list. More literary than Stephen King and possibly more difficult to read, Neil Gaiman will reward you for your effort.

Copyright © Clayton Clifford Bye 2009
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Format:Paperback
This collection of short stories marks the first time I've ever been somewhat bored by a Neil Gaiman tale. That is to say only a few of the stories actually fail to represent the author's habitual genius but most are at least interesting, while many are actually excellent, as should be expected. The stories are presented in asynchronous order and Gaiman offers an introduction about each piece with some interesting background information. Some of the oldest are also some of the best in this set.

Uninitiated readers eager to discover Neil Gaiman should probably start with Stardust or Neverwhere, or any other of his full-length novels for that matter. I think his longer stories generally provide much better characters and storylines, a benefit that comes with spending more time on a single setting and exploring it further than only a few pages allow. Perhaps not so coincidentally, the stories I appreciated the most in Smokes and Mirrors also happened to be the lengthier ones. Those written as poems or in a telegraphic style really lost me for the most part, but the rest is sure to provide the reader with enough chills and thrills. It retains a bit of magic and mystery typical to all of Gaiman's work. Quite a fascinating mind!
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4.0 out of 5 stars So much better than Neverwhere May 28 2004
By Rebecca
Format:Paperback
In "Neverwhere" Gaiman seriously bit off more than he could chew. But in this book of short stories, Gaiman's intensely creative ideas and fantastic imagination are perfect for the art that is the short story. I like how he puts two entirely unrelated ideas together. Like his opening tale of an old woman who finds the Holy Grail at her local thrift shop and is pursued by a handsome Knight of the Table Round (Yes, somehow he is from the past) who desperately wants the cup so he can complete his quest. You won't believe what he offers her in the way of exchange! These stories are so cool, I highly recommend this book!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stop reading this and go get this book now! April 19 2004
Format:Paperback
There is so much variety in this book you'd think it wasn't written by the same person, but it is, and how well it was done.
Most of it pertains to sci-fi/fantasy, as that is what Gaiman usually writes. Some of the stories are truly touching, some haunting, and some very funny.
There are about 30 short stories and poems.
There are brief introductions to each piece, which is very interesting.
Good for a read every now and then or all at once. Good stuff that you will remember for a long time after reading it. It blew me away, especially the last two stories, "Murder Mysteries" and "Snow, Glass, Apples." Those were the most memorable and well written, in my opinion. Just like they say, save the best for last.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Echos in your mind indefinately April 5 2004
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Most of what I would say has already been said in previous reviews. I would simply add my voice to the chorus that praises this collection, and add that Gaiman's skill is such that days, weeks -- ages -- after reading these tales, they will continue to resonate for you. It may be that your perceptions of stray cats is altered, or you find yourself less interested in shopping for bargains, or you will find poetry more accessible, or the night more eerie.....Whatever your flavor, there will be something in this collection for you.
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