I have now finished listening to M Is for Magic by Neil Gaiman, but instead of writing a post about just this collection of short stories, I decided I wanted to chat a bit about Neil Gaiman and my relationship with his books.
First, the book. I didn’t enjoy M Is for Magic as much as his other books I’ve listened to because I apparently have a harder time listening to short story collections. I’ve tried listening to two in the past month, and both times I kept losing the thread of what was going on in stories. What I’ve gathered is that my attention wanders in and out while listening, and I miss crucial elements in short stories because the crucial elements happen so much quicker than in novels. Thus, I will stick to longer stories from now on and stick to old-fashioned print books for short stories.
The stories I did recall easily and stay focused on were delightful. They were fanciful and creative. Honestly, I’ve never read anything like Gaiman’s books because he tells stories for adults that sound like children’s books. I mean, he is producing fairy tale magic and making me feel refreshingly young and wisely old at the same time. I’m not sure those two sentences were adequate for his writing, but there you have it. My point is the stories were very good, and I will probably buy them in print in order to gain a better understanding on just how great they are.
As for my relationship with Neil Gaiman’s works… It is utterly unique in my many relationships with different authors because he is the only author who I’ve consumed multiple books of without ever actually taking the stories in with my eyes. I have listened to three of his books, and it is so blessedly rewarding each time. My wonderful experience with his audiobooks may have to do with the fact that he is the one reading them. There is something very special and personal about listening to an author read their own work because you hear the voices they had in their head for characters, and you hear breaths, pauses, and emphasis exactly where they are supposed to be. Professional vocal performers and audiobook readers are usually a treat, but listening to an author read their own work is spectacular.
I almost missed out on Gaiman because I didn’t know anyone who had actually read him for a long time. Plus he was one of those authors that seemed to throw out a new book every five minutes. And then everyone was talking about him. I have a terrible time with over-hyped books/writers (looking at you, Stephen King). Then I ended up with Neverwhere in my Audible library. It was probably on sale or something, and I thought what the heck. Such a good purchase.
Neverwhere is amazing! It’s so different from everything else I’ve read in terms of creativity and world building. Plus it has a structure that is almost impossible to poke holes in (I actually can’t think of any holes, but nothing is impossible).
Then I checked out The Graveyard Book from the library. Again my ears and brain were delighted with Gaiman’s voice (both his actual voice and writer’s “voice”), his creativity, world building, and tight structure.
He even manages those things in M Is For Magic, and I often find it difficult to get that much satisfaction from short stories.
I wrote this post and scheduled it to be published a few days after writing it. In the original version, I wrote that The Ocean at the End of the Lane was on deck, and I ended up listening to the entire thing today well before the post is scheduled to go live. (Writing this post is starting to feel a little time travel-y because I am writing it now after finishing the book a couple hours ago after writing it last night, and by the time you’re reading this, several days have already passed). Anyway, The Ocean at the End of the Lane was fantastic. I have all of the same wonderful things to say about Gaiman’s storytelling. I had no idea what this story was about before starting it, and it ended up being another delightful fantasy journey that made surprising comments on friendship and sacrifice. Although, I probably shouldn’t be surprised by the deep thought woven throughout Gaiman’s fantasy worlds anymore.
I honestly can’t tell you which of these books is my favorite. Every time I try to put them in order, I end up in a wrestling match with myself. It’s just too hard to choose. I will probably listen to many, many more of his books. I have a feeling my physical shelves will also start to be crowded with his books as well.
Are you a Neil Gaiman fan? What is your favorite book by him?