Thursday, July 12, 2007
Two for the price of one Im giving you today guvnah.
Smoke & Mirrors
I have a long history with Neil Gaiman - he was my introduction to the graphic novel. Without coming on all geeky for those not au fait with his works, he penned stories for his Sandman series of Comics and Death Comics - essentially Sandman is exactly who he is - the bringer of dreams and the latter, Death, his younger sister. He was a breath of fresh air by ways of the horror genre that I was reading at the time and my interest in the graphic arts had me entranced with the embelishments on both covers and inside the pages.
It is all too easy to dismiss this guy as a 'comic writer' only knowing that small nugget of information but Neil Gaiman has been acclaimed by writers as diverse as Norman Mailer and Stephen King.. He is a wonderful story teller with an eye for the strange in our everyday lives. Neil always blended and blurred the fantasy and reality of the mundane in a beautifully seamless way. His book Smoke & Mirrors is a collection of stories that will dazzle the senses and haunt the imagination. Miraculous inventions and unforgettable characters inhabit these pages: an elderly widow who finds the Holy Grail in a second-hand store...a frightened little boy who bargains for his life with a troll living under a bridge by the railroad tracks...a stray cat who battles nightly against a recurring evil that threatens his unsusupecting adoptive family. A murder in Heaven.. In these stories, Gaiman displays the power, wit, insight and outrageous originality that has made him one of the most unique literary artists I have come across in the last 15 years.. I recommend it highly for any vacation, just to keep a chill in the blood!
Dancing with the Dark - Steven JonesThis is a book filled with true encounters of the paranormal kind. But the difference with this book is the experiences are those experienced by the most un-likely people, which you would expect to get frightened. People like the famous horror writer Stephen King whose novels have given many readers chills, the well known writer James Herbert and classic horror film actor Vincent Price to name but a few of the icons of the horror genre whose tales are retold in this fascinating novel of paranormal brushes with spectral visions, phantom footsteps, encounters with ouijia board, premonitions of disasters are just a few of the experiences that have changed the very lives of the people who make their living from the horror genre. It truly is a fascinating read when you 'hear' the voices of fear tell their own true accounts; its a bit of revenge for the reader in a way to be honest! I havent read this book for a few years but some of the stories did give me goosebumps (a very hard thing to do) The one that sticks out the most is Ramsey Campbell's "The Nearest to a Ghost." He goes to the cemetery to scatter his mother's ashes and feels a powerful sense of grief that isn't his own. The feeling vanishes after a moment, his own grief returning. Steven Jones I imagine had several good nights of exchanging stories and toasting absent friends with some of his contributors, what an enviable project to pursue!