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Smoke and Mirrors

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4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  41,380 ratings  ·  1,539 reviews
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 ...more
Kindle Edition, 339 pages
Published March 17th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published November 1998)
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Matt
'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 quite 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 differences.

Both collections involve Gaiman doing what he does best, that is taking our own myths, fables, an
...more
Jc
This collection of short works, some not quite 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 S&M is thi ...more
April
Aug 01, 2012 April rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gaiman fans
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 favourite
The Wedding Present (Yes, I religiously read introductions):4*
In which a picturesque couple are given a quaint 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
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Petergiaquinta
A guilty pleasure, sure, but with Ray Bradbury's death, I'd suggest that Neil Gaiman is the best storyteller we have today.

Consider 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 i
...more
Latharia
Wow. I have to say that just about every story in this collection was highly engaging, and I had strong emotional reactions to several of them, and many "gotcha" type moments. Gaiman is, indeed, a master storyteller. Some of my favorite bits, without giving too much away for those of you who need to add this to your "to read" stack:

- the sad workings of Peter's mind in "We Can Get Them For You Wholesale"
- the explanation of those who've spurned "The Sweeper of Dreams"
- the evolution of perceive
...more
J
Jun 18, 2007 J rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Vampires
A note: I expect more than I should from this author. I find him to be a brilliant idea man with little substance.

-Suggested Reading Order:

Murder Mystery
Tastings
Snow, Glass, Apples
Only the End of the World Again
Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar
We Can Get Them for You Wholesale
Chivalry
Cold Colors
The Price

Chivalry- an old woman buys the Holy Grail. A full-armored knight comes to seek the Grail. Cute, long-run and dry. The most wonderful thing about this story is that it is quaint and written as gabbish; a
...more
Helen
Very happy I read these. This is a collection of very adult Neil Gaiman stories, written before he fell into his trusty formula of "Ordinary guy meets strange person, and then enters wacky wonderful fantasy world." They're sad, sexy, naughty, shivery, eerie, and occasionally moving. There's an early story called "One Life, Furnished in Early Moorcock" that took my breath away, mainly because it must have been based on his own childhood. "Troll Bridge," a heart-tightening tale about the pain of g ...more
Megan
"Stories are, in on way or another, mirrors. We use them to explain ourselves how the world works or how it doesn't work.Like mirrors, stories prepare us for the day to come. They distract us from the things in the darkness. Fantasy-and all fiction is fantasy of one kind or another-is a mirror. A distorting mirror, to be sure, and a concealing mirror, set at 45 degrees to reality, but it's a mirror nonetheless, which we can use to tell ourselves things we might not otherwise see."

As always anot
...more
Ivan
Like in all story collections some stories are better, some are worse.In this case some stories where boring and alone I would rate them 1 star and some where 5 stars easily and reminded me why I consider Gaiman a deity.

My overall impression is that Smoke and mirrors is enjoyable book but not among Gaiman's best.I would recommend it to people who read most of his "major" books and are looking for more, than definitively read this.If you haven't, read those first than return and if you are unfami
...more
Jennifer
Having read M is for Magic and Fragile Things I have encountered some of the short stories that Mr. Gaiman has written. I found this collection to be one of the most eclectic. Happy stories, sad stories, chilling stories, and erotic stories, but as he introduces them - all a product of smoke and mirrors. We're not to believe any of this, as it is all just an illusion. So why do I walk away feeling like it was all a bit too real?

I enjoyed the very experimental feel to this book. Some prose, some
...more
Paul 'Pezski' Perry
As with most short story collections, Gaiman's Smoke and Mirrors is something of a mixed bag. When he is good he is sublime, and there is plenty in this volume that fits that description, but there are also a few stories that seem little more than jottings of ideas meant to be fleshed out or perhaps left over from longer works. There is also some laudable inventiveness which, for me, doesn't always quite work - for example his triptych of narrative poems - but nonetheless shows the writer's grea ...more
Edward (The Book Pusher) Lorn
SMOKE AND MIRRORS Review, or My Final Review For a While I'm a Neil Gaiman fanboy. I've loved all of his novels and a great deal of his short fiction, but this collection was marred with either lackluster outings or poems I couldn't enjoy because I personally don't understand what makes them poems. The latter is my own fault, and I do not hold it against the author. The former, on the other hand, is all Gaiman's fault. Many of these stories lack purpose, are nothing more than words compiled into ...more
Kimberley doruyter
a wonderful collection of the madness that is neil gaiman.
Monique

Originally posted here.

How many times am I going to affirm my admiration for this man's awesome storytelling and rich imagination?

So far, I've read his award-winning, bestselling full-length novel, American Gods ; his children's books Coraline and The Graveyard Book , and; his short story compendiums, Fragile Things , M is For Magic , and now, Smoke and Mirrors . My reaction for every time that I finish reading one of Gaiman's works is always the same: hell-yeah-that-was-friggin-awesome.

I rea
...more
Emir Never
I've been hearing much about Neil Gaiman from friends and I've been wanting to read his books for years now and finally someone shared her Smoke and Mirrors to me.

In this collection of fiction in prose and poetry, Gaiman exhibits his immense writing talent, which reminds me of Stephen King (specifically in Night Shift) in finding a story in an otherwise common things, ideas, and events. But while King's fecundity is particularly manifest in the fearsome and horrifying, Gaiman's magic is more lik
...more
Misarweth
Tant d'étagères, pour un recueil de nouvelles absolument splendide, maîtrisé et qui boursouflerait d'envie n'importe quel soufflet au fromage se prenant pour un auteur.
C'est à la fois tout, dans tous les sens et à la fois il en émane une unité, une cohérence, de structure, d'idée, qui vous mène là où vous ne le vouliez pas.

Neil Gaiman quoi.
KristenR
I really liked This eclectic collection of short stories by Neil Gaiman. What kept me from giving this 5 stars were several stories written in verse that just didn't grab me.
Amitai Adler
I am actually not a big short story person, but I love Gaiman's. They're really little treats, some quite amusing, other really rather hair-raising. Much fun.
Tin
Smoke and Mirrors is a delightful collection of short stories and poems that are retellings of fairy tales and folklore of old. Reading it made me feel like a kid again, seeing a magic trick for the first time, and there is no grander magician than Neil Gaiman. He turns stock stories into new ones, more bewitching, more chilling and more surreal that it’s derivative. We get a mixture of horror, suspense, fantasy, and science fiction. What’s even better is that they all go beyond pure entertainme ...more
Airiz C
Sir Terry Pratchett once said that Neil Gaiman is more of a conjurer than a wizard: “Wizards don’t have to work. They wave their hands, and the magic happens. But conjurers…work very hard. They spend a lot of time in their youth watching, very carefully, the conjurers of their day…and they take center stage and amaze you with flags of all nations and smoke and mirrors, and you cry, ‘Amazing! How does he do it? What happened to the elephant? Where’s the rabbit? Did he really smash my watch?’ And ...more
Alex
Jul 30, 2008 Alex rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Gaiman fans, people who like dark lit
Shelves: fantasy
This is a collection of short stories/poems, mostly with a "it's not what it seems" type theme. Because it's a collection, it's always difficult to rate. Most of the stories rate a strong 5 stars, but a few were only so-so, which dropped the rating.

Some of my favorite stories were "Murder Mysteries," "Snow, Glass, Apples," "Changes," "We Can Get Them for You Wholesale," and "The Sweeper of Dreams." Not necessarily in that order.

The strengths tended to be amazing creativity and story telling. The
...more
Brendon Schrodinger
I have always been a bit of a Gaiman fan, ever since discovering Sandman and American Gods in the late nineties. However, I'm not such a huge enough fan to go and devour all his works at once. I don't think I do that with any authors. Anyway, I have eventually worked my way around to this collection.

My partner and I have, for the second time, given eachother annual reading lists. These comprise of 5 books that the other must read in 2013. I guess the aim is to stir things up in our reading habi
...more
Joy
after reading american gods, i wanted to read some more of gaiman's work, so i picked up this book of short stories. i was actually a little underwhelmed. he writes some sci-fi/fantasy poetry stories that really didn't work for me. i still like his style, i just don't think he is as good of a short story writer, as a novel writer.

that said, i loved two of the stories. the final story, called "murder mysteries", about raguel, the angel of vengeance, and the murder of an angel. gaiman handles deit
...more
Kei Ci Bautista
I have to say, in quite an unconventional manner, that this book is a house. It is a house of dark fantasy every child has ever subconsciously dreamed of while asleep, in one way or another. It could be me, but I think that most readers, had they been given a chance to read any one of the story in this book, would be fascinated and awed as to how Gaiman came up with such a story/stories. Some would think, 'how absurd,' but at the end of the day, at some virtual point, half the consideration it w ...more
Ana
Aug 17, 2014 Ana rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
I enjoyed this book a lot because there sure seems to be plenty of variety, something for all tastes.

While some stories seem to be original from scratch to me, for the most part, Gaiman takes us through stories, fables, tales, concepts we all know, and rearranges them in a near brilliant way, managing to create something that sometimes is terrifying, others thought provoking, even disgusting, but always creepy and a pleasure to read. Some stories are only a couple pages long, the shortest is exa
...more
Susan
Neil Gaiman doesn't disappoint. His are the books where, after the story is over, you realize with a sort of aftershock, that you are back in dull, flat, grey reality.
I loved the beauty and melancholy of 'Looking for the Girl', the Lovecraft-esque feel of 'Shoggoth's Old Peculiar' and the delightful wrongness of 'Babycakes'. Actually this last one was my favorite of the whole volume.

I wish I could give 6 stars. There were barely any stories in it which were not absolutely brilliant.

Gems like 'sh
...more
Kat
I love Neil Gaiman...

This collection of short stories and poems represents all of the many reasons I love Gaiman's writing. It took me a long time to read, because after every story or poem, I had to put the book down to let the words saturate my brain for a bit before I tackled the next piece. Sometimes whimsical, sometimes horrifying, always wonderful. He has a sense of pacing and of picking the perfect medium for a story that few other modern authors have. He can get away with writing a story
...more
Anne
Don't bother! I guess this is what it is; a bunch of short stories that are essentially unpolished gems, the bulk of them having anti-climactic endings. In other words, great narrative concepts that the writer has loved in the beginning but lost interest in the end. There are some rare polished gems that I would give 4 stars. However, they are rare. You have to wonder about the merit of publishing these when the authorial intrusions undermine the value of the stories. And worse, the author admit ...more
Nick Kives
One of the better short story collections that I remember. Only about 2 stories did I get bored with and skim or skip. Of course it is all Gaiman stories and not a collection of different people so that probably helped.
Mikey
Dec 31, 2008 Mikey marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Just finished introduction and he blew me away! I didn't realize there is a short story in the introduction! I think I'm going to like him a lot. Will read the first short story tonight called "Chivalry"
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Good, but he does best with a larger canvas 12 75 Sep 13, 2014 04:42PM  
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Sci-fi and Heroic...: Smoke and Mirrors 14 48 Nov 20, 2012 07:34AM  
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“When I was a child, adults would tell me not to make things up, warning me of what would happen if I did. As far as I can tell so far, it seems to involve lots of foreign travel and not having to get up too early in the morning.” 2833 likes
“Memory is the great deceiver. Perhaps there are some individuals whose memories act like tape recordings, daily records of their lives complete in every detail, but I am not one of them. My memory is a patchwork of occurrences, of discontinuous events roughly sewn together: The parts I remember, I remember precisely, whilst other sections seemed to have vanished completely.” 127 likes
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