Thursday, May 08, 2008

M Is for Magic by Neil Gaiman

Even if you’ve never read any of Neil Gaiman’s delightful fiction, you might have seen the film adaptation of Stardust, which did justice to the novel and has been compared to The Princess Bride.

M Is for Magic (HarperCollins) is a collection of mostly previously published short stories aimed at younger readers -- teenagers, really, rather than children, as the style of most of them is closer to adult than child. Four of the stories were published in the anthology Smoke and Mirrors. Others were also previously published. One of them is a chapter from a forthcoming novel.

In an introduction, the author explains the title as having been inspired by Ray Bradbury’s younger-reader anthologies, which had such names as R Is For Rocket and S Is For Space. This is appropriate because a number of the stories have a definite flavour of Bradbury. One of them, “October in the Chair,” is actually dedicated to Bradbury, but “The Witch’s Headstone,” which is the chapter from Gaiman’s forthcoming novel, The Graveyard Book, has the feel of Bradbury’s stories about the Family. In it, a young boy has been brought up and taught in a graveyard by ghosts and even a vampire. The stories range from the scary, such as “The Price,” in which the family cat has been fighting the Devil to protect his owners, to the deliciously silly, such as “How to Talk to Girls at Parties,” in which two inexperienced teenage boys turn up at the wrong party only to find out that all the girls there actually do come from another planet. There’s “Chivalry,” from Smoke and Mirrors, in which an old lady finds the Holy Grail in a second-hand shop. A young knight comes to ask for its return, but it looks so nice on the mantelpiece…

If you want an introduction to the short fiction of Neil Gaiman, this is a good place to start, and teens or children who are good readers should find it enjoyable.

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Anonymous Christopher Waldrop said...

For young (teen) readers I'd say Gaiman's Coraline is also a good place to start. And at least one of the stories in this new collection--"How To Talk To Girls At Parties"--was also published in Gaiman's collection Fragile Things.

Friday, May 9, 2008 at 1:03:00 PM PDT  
Anonymous zyva said...

talking about magic is something between believe and unbelieve.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009 at 8:50:00 PM PDT  

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