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Smoke and Mirrors: Short Fictions and Illusions Paperback – Jan 29 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (Jan. 29 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061450162
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061450167
  • Product Dimensions: 13.5 x 2.1 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars 69 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #301,707 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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

Top Customer Reviews

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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Format: Hardcover
I have a love-hate relationship with Neil Gaiman. I love his work. His diction is always impeccable, always inspired. But I hate that I somehow lose a day when I start reading one of his books. I get so wrapped up in the story, in the world that he weaves, that I cannot put the book down.
I started reading this short story collection thinking that this may be the solution to my love-hate relationship. I could not have been more wrong. Even when the story is a mere hundred words (as is 'Nicholas Was ...'), I simply could not stop reading. After each story, I would pause to shiver or reflect (or, often, both). Occasionally, I would flip back to the beginning to read the introduction where the author discusses each story and how it came about. Then, I would plunge into the next story. I finished the book in less than a day, including flipping back and reading several stories again.
This collection of short stories is an excellent introduction to the world of Neil Gaiman. One of the strengths of the author is showing an alternate perspective. You could look at each of these stories (including the one buried in the introduction) as doing just that. The haunting 'Nicholas Was ...' and 'Snow, Glass, Apples' show us that maybe Santa Claus isn't a jolly old man and that maybe Snow White wasn't an innocent pure girl driven out by an evil uncaring stepmother.
Individually, each of the stories is an excellent example of what comes off of a gifted writer's pen (or keyboard, as it were). Together, this collection is riveting and engaging. In the years to come, I am sure that I will pull this book off my shelf often to read a story or two (or all of them) again.
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Format: Paperback
On a first reading of a short story compilation, I read every story front-to-back. I make my decisions as to what I like and what I can live without, and on subsequent readings, I often head straight to the highlights. The stories that grabbed me the first time.
Not so with Smoke and Mirrors. When I revisit this one, I read the entire thing cover to cover all over again. I've looked over and over for a weakness in this compilation but can't seem to find it. The introduction is not only amusing in its own right, but added to my enjoyment of the stories by giving a little background info on each piece. Where the ideas came from, what Gaiman thinks about it now that it's done, etc.
The best thing I can say about the stories themselves is that each one is enjoyable and unique. I get aggravated with some compilations because every story is only slightly different than the one before it. Not so with Smoke and Mirrors. Each piece follows different conventions, is written in a different style. There are rondels and modern fairy tales, pulp stories and narrative poems. I might go so far as to say that there is a story for every taste in here.
Still unsure about whether this is for you? If you can get your hands on a copy, read "Nicholas Was..." It's only 100 words long. And it's oh-so-worth-it.
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