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A Walking Tour of the Shambles

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  301 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Gene Wolfe and Neil Gaiman invite you to tour the Shambles, that historic old Chicago neighborhood which miraculously survived the Great Fire of 1871. ('Ya can't burn Hell,' as one local politician laughingly remarked.) Uniquely Chicago, the Shambles offers an array of delights for the intrepid sightseer: Cereal House with its Terribly Strange Bed (be sure to fill out the ...more
Paperback, 57 pages
Published December 1st 2002 by American Fantasy (first published April 15th 2002)
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Average rating 3.71  · 
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 ·  301 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Dec 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I was absolutely enchanted by this book! I love to travel, and love "real" travel guides, and this book captures the chatty feel of a good walking tour book extremely well.

Sometimes with collaborations, the two authors' influences can be felt very distinctly - like you can tell which parts "belong" to one author or the other. I didn't feel that way about this book at all. Gaiman and Wolfe are both so good at building weird and detailed worlds, and both have such quirky senses of humor, that I ju
Feb 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: humour, horror, fantasy
In this little book, Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe provide a helpful tourist's guide to the Shambles, a mysterious and terrifying neighbourhood in Chicago. The preface claims that the neighbourhood does not actually exist but I have reason to believe that they were bought off by the International Brotherhood of Meatworkers, a rather sinister organization mentioned several times throughout the guide but never explained in detail. The preface also claims that there is not a website at www.preserveus ...more
May 11, 2012 rated it liked it
This is a very short book, and was actually co-written by Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe (whom Gaiman has often declared himself a fan of). It purports to be a walking tour of an area known as "The Shambles", which is a fictional neighborhood in Chicago (where Wolfe lives) and obviously is the site of some extremely strange history. Some of the locations include a really weird church, a house of clocks, and a house belonging to H.H. Holmes (America's first serial killer). All of which remain rather ...more
May 01, 2011 rated it liked it
Neil Gaiman and Gene Wolfe collaborate on this sightseeing guide to an imaginary Chicago neighborhood called the Shambles.

As one might expect, this neighborhood oozes with oddities and details gothic and supernatural, all related in a dry and highly humorously style. Very short, but likely to entertain fans of either author.
Xander Kennedy
Aug 11, 2009 rated it it was ok
I'm not going to say it wasn't clever, but I will say it was rather dull. I probably wouldn't have finished it had it been much longer.
Rachel Ayers
Jun 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
An absolutely delightful little time-saver! Would have completely missed the Swandoliers if not for this book.
Christopher McCaffery
May 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Kinda funny. Not really sure what the point of this is, but I'm being a completionist here. ...more
Jun 28, 2020 rated it liked it
A fun read and a nice addition to my Gene Wolfe collection.
Jan 23, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: dark, humor, 2015
This little book was the other Gaiman novelty I found while organizing a bookshelf over the weekend. Like Shoggoth's Old Peculiar, this book is short, not quite a novel, and is probably only for the hardest of hardcore Neil Gaiman fans, though special mention should be made that Gene Wolfe fans might also get a kick out of it. I say that because the prose seems to have been written by Wolfe more than Gaiman. I don't have a lot of experience reading Wolfe, but I do remember his style being drier ...more
Feb 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I've read a lot of walking guides, often for places I've been to. But none has delighted me as much as this imaginative work of fiction, and oh, I so wish it was a real place I could visit! I read it over 3 nights, because it was so packed full of ideas and fun stuff, I didn't want to rush it. The illustrations are also highly evocative, and remind me of the old Fighting Fantasy illustrations from the 1980s. Indeed the whole book has some of that air about it: conjuring up images of a wonderful ...more
Eric Wisdahl
This is a campy fictionalization of a walking tour guide of the shambles, a neighborhood in Chicago. In it there are a number of humorous horror elements detailing the various locales and some of the denizens of the area. One of my favorites was the Rent a Rifle at the top of the largest building where you would attempt to shoot sight seers of the sears building. Overall, I would probably say that this is one that most people could skip... but as it was written by two of my favorite authors it h ...more
May 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
I do love Gaiman's work and enjoy real travel books. I wanted to like this one so much. And it was clever and cute. Even so, I tired of it quickly. Not my thing. ...more
Jun 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult
A spoof of a tour guide of a fictional old part of Chicago. The Shambles were destroyed in the Great Fire of Chicago, what remains is largely beneath the surface of the city, so to speak. Gaiman and Wolfe team up for an entertaining read about "Chicago", full of tongue-in-cheek humor. The House of Clocks was especially interesting and even have their own website now based on the book (http://www.preserveusfromthehouseofcl...). ...more
Mar 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Oh man! This was wonderful. It's a walking tour guide through a fictional section of Chicago. Creepy and funny and lovely, it made me want to read and/or write several dozen more stories based on the tantalizing half-histories and untold tales mentioned. It's also tiny and took me about an hour to read. If you see it, pick it up. Neil Gaiman at his best and I really should probably read more Gene Wolfe, if this is any indication. ...more
May 23, 2012 rated it liked it
Thank god Chicago doesn't actually have a neighbourhood called the Shambles. They would probably end up "losing" too many tourists to the dangers of this off little set of streets. The fictional walkthrough is more than entertaining enough, and it definitely made me never ever want to see a place like this in real life. Legit crocodile in the pond and the strangest restaurant menu ever (boiled/grilled grapefruit, yuck)? No thanks! ...more
Jun 10, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: own-hardcopy
3.5 stars. This is a tourist's walking guide to a fictional area of Chicago. It does weave in bits and pieces of real Chicago history and landmarks. The style is similar to a Welcome to Night Vale podcast, so if you are a fan of dark, dry humor, you will likely enjoy this. This came across my radar due to my affection for nearly all things Gaiman, and I was not disappointed. I do wish it had been a bit more substantial- 57 pages doesn't last long, but I did enjoy reading it. ...more
I loved this and have to say thank you to the Eastern New Mexico University library for sending me their copy through inter-library loan. From their special collections, no less. This was a wonderful way to kill an hour reading (and I wished it was longer at several points). It gave me giggles that I only barely managed to suppress.
Dec 13, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Ed by: Larry
A hilarious parody of walking tour books for a neighborhood in Chicago that doesn't actually exist, and thank goodness it doesn't because it would be a horrifying place to live. There's something that will crack you up on almost every page, if not multiple times per page. Wonderfully done and entertaining, but it's something of a trifle. ...more
Matt Piechocinski
Apr 28, 2011 rated it liked it
A tour through a Chicago Gaimanesque weird neighborhood that doesn't exist. It's a pretty funny read in true Gaiman fashion, and since American Gods, I love how he takes the ordinary (House on the Rock) and makes it extraordinary. I dunno how much Wolfe contributed, as I've never read him before ... anyways, it's a zany romp. ...more
Jul 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
An initially whimsical and spooky short, but then, slowly, almost imperceptibly, truly frightening and creepy.

I blame Gene Wolfe, but Neil Gaiman is not without blame.

And, much to my chagrin, that the series of writing warmup exercises I've been amusing myself with had already been done to perfection by Wolfe and Gaiman. Damn them!
Dec 07, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is short, and wonderfully so. It stays just long enough to make you smile, but does not overstay its welcome and leaves you feeling very pleasant over the whole experience. Every sentence is meant to be read, and the individual words comprehended; don't skim this one. ...more
Jan 24, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This book was hilarious. It was really short, I'd say it would be an average less than an hour of solid reading. I also think that, on average, it will be funnier to those people who live, or have lived, in the greater Chicago area. ...more
Apr 09, 2010 rated it really liked it
A delightfully tongue in cheek guidebook around an area of Chicago that I'm pretty sure doesn't actually exist... at least I hope not. The book is delightfully creepy and a lot of fun to read. It's also a quick read which makes it even more fun! ...more
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
This is a walking tour of a fictional area in Chicago. Unfortunately, I just found it boring. There were a few nice illustrations. Was it meant to be funny? I’m not sure. I just didn’t find it interesting at all.
Nov 27, 2007 rated it really liked it
A hilarious, creepy, and bizarre faux travel guide. I wish they would complete the series that the cover suggests.
Jul 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fiction, signed
I found this one again recently after misplacing it for several years. A fabulous example of how to mix funny and spooky without ruining either one.
What a fun book about a "forgotten" Chicago neighborhood! If only I could head down to the Southside to visit ;) ...more
Jun 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2013-reads
It's really hard to read this and not hear the voice of Cecil Baldwin in your head. ...more
May 10, 2014 rated it liked it
It was cool that is was set in Chicago even if it is pure fiction.
An amusing, quick read. Avoid the crocodile.
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