Aug 9, 2011

[Books] M is for Magic

M is for MagicI already have a fairly decent collection of Neil Gaiman's works - definitely some of the gems of my collection that I'm pretty proud of. At the same time, there's always the risk of modest duplication here and there with a man who writes so prolifically and is quite popular across different reader segments.

Now this particular collection was one that I was a tad hesitant to purchase initially. My main concern was the fact that most of the stories had appeared previously in other anthologies. The goal of this book, after all, was to repackage a collection of his stories for younger audiences, although it's clear that Mr. Gaiman is one of those writers who respects children and their ability to understand more complex concepts. I totally agree with this and thus I've never seen the point in writers needing to overly talk down to younger readers.

But I eventually found the title on sale and I figured it was still nice to have. After all, there were still a story or two that I had not read before and it had been quite a while since I had read some of the others. Putting them all together in one book like this creates a particular reading experience, at least in my opinion. While the stories remain independent of one another, it doesn't mean that you can't develop a parallel narrative flow of sorts when you read them all in succession.

M is for Magic is a short story collection by Neil Gaiman released in 2007. The book largely includes stories that had appeared in previous collections but had been selected based on their general appropriateness for young readers.

GaimanImage via WikipediaThis is a rather short foray into the fantastical writings of Neil Gaiman standing at only 272 pages in a rather large font to book. However the book does contain a great set of stories that are all worth their weight, especially for longer term Gaiman fans. Given the repeated nature of these stories, this title may serve better as a gift as opposed to be a core part of your Gaiman collection since it serves as a nice way to introduce somehow to his diverse works and creative approaches.

Some of the more obscure titles in the collection that you may not have read before include a noir-style detective story using fairy tale characters called The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds, a nice spin on the classic con-man story called How to Sell the Ponzi Bridge and rather strange tale of what happens when the months of the meet called October In The chair.

Admittedly some of the stories that I liked the most had previously appeared in his more recent anthologies like Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things. This includes the story of an old lady who finds the Holy Grail in a bargain bin entitled Chivalry, a slightly disturbing tale of fairy tale trolls in the real world called Troll Bridge and a story of gastronomical adventurism taken to an extreme in Sunbird.

Regardless of the fact that it had not been my first time to read these particular stories, reading them all together made for a rather delightful experience - a journey through different worlds of Neil Gaiman's making where you're never quite sure what will lie beyond the next page. And these are clearly some of his best works - stories with such vivid descriptions that help you imagine yourself in the scene along with the characters as well. There's this amazing sense of realness that he achieves for us readers through the use of common language that it seems almost too easy to duplicate this process for yourself, which we all know isn't exactly the case.

M Is For Magic is a great collection for any Gaiman fan and a perfect gift for a young reader looking for something new to sink his or her teeth into. It's a collection of whimsy and woe, but still safe for the kiddies. Sort of. This anthology gets 4 ancient magical artifacts that might look good on the mantle out of a possible 5.

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