First note: I’ve read a few short story collections in my time, but only a few, and with this read-along I think I’ve figured out why — short stories are meant to be read on their own, not all at once. It’s just more cost-effective to lump them into a big book and call it a day. For most of the read-along I listened to one story a day, four days a week, and it worked amazingly better to have that 24-hour period to think about the story before moving on than it ever had to mainline a whole book of them. I am going to follow this slow-reading practice in the future, for sure.
Second note: I read each of these stories twice, once with my ears and once with my eyes, generally in that order. This turned out to be a pretty good practice, especially with Gaiman narrating his own stories, because some of the stories and the poems in general were much better when I could hear the cadence and the word patterns that Gaiman had written in, and others were better when I could see how he formatted them or see the sentences to parse them correctly. And of course, the second time around I could get a better appreciation for the story as a whole since I already knew how it ended. That worked out really well for writing up the stories every week, but I probably won’t do that in the future unless I know I’m going to discuss the stories!
Third note: I don’t usually read story collections that are comprised of such very different stories, and it was really just amazing to me how large the gap was between the stories I loved and the stories I disloved. I don’t think there were any I absolutely hated, but there are a few I don’t need to ever think about again, and also there are a few that I would like to have metaphorically tattooed to my body so I could read them every day. It also intrigued me to see that the kind of stories Neil Gaiman writes are not always the kind of stories I think that Neil Gaiman would know how to write. I like that Gaiman is willing to write things that are so outside of the pattern of his popular stuff and just let you like it or not.
Okay, I think that covers it! I hope you guys that did the read-along with me enjoyed the experience as much as I did, and I hope that those of you who didn’t are at least moderately interested in picking up this collection, because there really are some fabulous stories. I think my Top Five list would be, in rough order, “Goliath,” “Sunbird,” “A Study in Emerald,” “Feeders and Eaters,” and “October in the Chair. I think. Care to share yours?
Recommendation: Fantastic reading, a must for Gaiman-lovers and a should for people who like their stories short and a little fantastic.
Rating: Oh, gosh. I’m going to just throw out the stories I disloved and call this a 9/10.