Gaiman's recasting of a Japanese fairy tale into an episode from the life of Dream of the Endless is really well-crafted, but Yoshitaka Amano's accompGaiman's recasting of a Japanese fairy tale into an episode from the life of Dream of the Endless is really well-crafted, but Yoshitaka Amano's accompanying artwork, in so many different media, took my breath away. Gaiman's oeuvre is hit-or-miss for me; this volume is definitely a hit. ...more
**spoiler alert** The introduction to volume 4 talks about Powell's then newfound fame and its possible negative influence on his subsequent work. Wel**spoiler alert** The introduction to volume 4 talks about Powell's then newfound fame and its possible negative influence on his subsequent work. Well, that negative influence made itself apparent to me, at least, in this, volume 5. I loved the Rumpelstiltskin gloss on the Priest, laughed out loud at the labor union strategy for fighting a gypsy curse, and found the two-page parody of Charlton Heston and The Ten Commandmentsy‒The 13th Commandment‒to be exceedingly funny (and what happened to commandments 11 and 12?). About halfway in, however, the artwork changes dramatically as does the storytelling, and neither for the better. What's up with Corpse Mother and the Priest's new army of demonic tumor-dwarves? And many of the shorts at the end just don't live up to The Goon we all know and love. ...more
After reading two fairly profound, novel-length, "comic book" story arcs, I was expecting to that this collection of short stories would be filler, liAfter reading two fairly profound, novel-length, "comic book" story arcs, I was expecting to that this collection of short stories would be filler, light stuff that Gaiman could crank out while catching his breath, preparing for the next run. Boy, was I wrong.
The first story in this collection, "Three Septembers and a January," brought me to tears as I read it on my lunch break. It tells the story of one Joshua Abraham Norton, the first and only Emperor of the United States, a man whose waking dream saved him from utter despair and whose holy madness inspires many of us to this day. Gaiman does him honor with this story.
"Thermidor" introduces the reader to Orpheus, son of Dream, in a tale about Robespierre's Reign of Terror, the ironic effort to effect the Age of Reason through terror. Heads will roll!
Werewolves. Subtle rendered, hinted at, glimpsed out of the corner of the eye until the very end, but werewolves nonetheless. These People and their history and customs are the focus of the third story, "The Hunt," a tale of the Old Country told by grandfather to granddaughter.
"August" explains much about the life and deeds of the First Citizen of Rome, Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus, by interweaving imperial conquest and childhood sexual abuse. I wonder how this one went down with classicists.
My least favorite story in the collection, "Soft Places," is more hallucinogenic than the others (hence the title). G.K. Chesterton (whom I can identify only thanks to Gene Wolfe's introduction), Marco Polo, Fiddler's Green, and Dream meet in the sands of the Desert of Lop. But of course, it's "really" a dream...
A retelling of the myth of "Orpheus" juxtaposes classical symbolism with contemporary style and imagery, and does a great job at it. Gaiman shows he can write a relatively straightforward story and yet suggest visual imagery which "problematizes" that same narrative.
"Parliament of Rooks" takes a little boy's dream, and uses it to discuss Adam and Eve via the classic DC Comics spooky comic narrators Cain and Abel. The reader learns about the three wives of Adam, from the Midrashic account of the Creation; about how the two brothers got neighboring houses, one of Mystery and the other of Secrets; and about the differences between a murder of crows and a parliament of rooks.
"Ramadan" concludes the volume with a haunting tale of Haroun al-Raschid, the sultan of Baghdad at the height of its prominence and power. Gaiman trenchantly connects the myth, legend, and dream of the Baghdad of Ali Baba and flying carpets with the then-contemporary (and, sadly, now-contemporary) bombed out modern metropolis.