Dudes. I have discovered an awesome secret. Neil Gaiman is not only a fantastic author, but a fantastic narrator as well! And I have proved this scientifically by using BOTH my ears and my eyes to read this book. That’s right. I’m doing the homework twice! I’m Hermione Granger! Anyway, this started off as an accident, of the “Oh crap I’m not going to have time to read four stories by Sunday because it’s already Thursday but hey my library right here has the audiobook I can yoink after work and listen to during work tomorrow [a day passes] hey these are pretty fantastic stories but I think I need to read that ‘Fairy Reel’ one because it went by kind of quickly oh hey while I’m here I think I’ll read the others again too” variety…. That’s never happened to you? Right. Anyway. I think I’m going to keep on with the dual reading because these stories are quite short and I can.
So. Yes. Here are the four splendid things I read in the last couple days:
It’s a good thing I went back and eyes-read the introduction, because it did not translate well to audio. Gaiman goes through the book and tells the story, long or short, behind each of the stories in the collection. Some are just like, “I was commissioned to write this for another project that you can go buy if you want because it has awesome authors in it,” others are like, “I wrote this and no one liked it and then I wrote it again and it was better,” and one includes a short story of its own that seemed to come out of nowhere on the audio and makes much more sense in print. It has served to make me very excited about some of the stories I’ll be reading in the weeks to come.
“A Study in Emerald”
It’s been about four years since I read A Study in Scarlet, and about that many months since I watched “A Study in Pink” (sidenote: omg I cannot wait for series two!), so I can’t tell you exactly how these three stories diverge, but I can tell you that they are similar enough, and particularly “Emerald” and Scarlet are similar enough, to fool you a little bit. Which Gaiman does, with, I imagine, an evil laugh. “Emerald” is the same story you know, with the meeting of our two protagonists, and Lestrade needing a bit of help with his German, but then, as is mentioned in the introduction, it takes a bit of a Lovecraftian turn. And while I’m sure I’m missing a lot of nuances, not knowing The Lovecraft, I still found myself very intrigued with this sort of alternate universe Holmes story.
“The Fairy Reel”
The introduction’s description of this: “Not much of a poem, really, but enormous fun to read aloud.” Gaiman is being a little modest, here, as I found this a fantastic poem when I eyes-read it about three times in a row, but he is also telling the truth that it is so much prettier when you just ignore the words and let the rhythm and the sound of Gaiman’s voice wash over you. After just listening to it, I was like, “Husband! Sit still and listen to this poem!” It is much meant for sharing.
“October in the Chair”
So, first, October is my favorite month of the year for many reasons, probably firstly because it’s my birthday month! So I can tell you that Gaiman got it wrong — October is a lady, not a gent. But I will forgive this mistake, because the story that October tells is creepy and wonderful. It’s the predecessor to The Graveyard Book, which I need to re-read, and you can see the bits and pieces Gaiman takes from it, but it is also a perfectly strong story on its own of a boy who runs away and decides that anything is better than going back home. Which, on the one hand, I’m like, “That’s terrible! Go home!” and on the other I’m like, “Dooooo it.” So, conflicted. Also, Gaiman’s voices for the other months, especially June, are hilarious and not quite inflected in the print. Another point for ears-reading!
I am so excited for reading the rest of these stories, especially now that I have them on audio. I may have to ration myself to a story a day, though, lest I get so excited I finish it all in one go!