I really enjoyed it, devouring the stories within in two sittings. It lives up to its reputation as one of the ground-breaking comics serials of the 1...moreI really enjoyed it, devouring the stories within in two sittings. It lives up to its reputation as one of the ground-breaking comics serials of the 1980s, along with stuff by Alan Moore and Frank Miller. Geiman's imagination and intellect are wide-ranging, unafraid to horrify the readers, because they always do so in a shockingly poetic, pretty way. The artists whose work illustrates Gaiman's prose don't hurt either. (less)
**spoiler alert** Another fantastic story arc---I can see why this was so popular when it was initially released, and I can only imagine how crazy-mak...more**spoiler alert** Another fantastic story arc---I can see why this was so popular when it was initially released, and I can only imagine how crazy-making it had to have been to wait a month between chapters.
Morpheus goes to Hell to redeem an old lover he condemned ten thousand years before, only to find that Lucifer has closed up shop, issuing pink slips to all of demonkind and returning the dead to Earth. Dream is given the key, and gods from various mythos visit him in the Dreaming to make entreaties and explain their cases. Gaiman unfolds a postmodern meta-mythology that encompasses all sorts of perspectives, and also tells a rollicking tale in the process. (less)
After reading two fairly profound, novel-length, "comic book" story arcs, I was expecting to that this collection of short stories would be filler, li...moreAfter 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.
Stories and illustrations were good enough, but for me the best part of this book is the insightful and illuminating interview about paganism and witc...moreStories and illustrations were good enough, but for me the best part of this book is the insightful and illuminating interview about paganism and witchcraft with Wiccan High Priestess (and attorney) Phyllis Curott.(less)