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Book review: New collection highlights the best of Neil Gaiman

Book review: New collection highlights the best of Neil Gaiman

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The Neil Gaiman Reader

The Neil Gaiman Reader

Whenever anyone asks for suggestions on what they should read next, I ask if they’ve read any Neil Gaiman. They’ll usually ask what kinds of things he writes, and I’ll ask what types of things they like to read.

Gaiman has written graphic novels, radio and screenplays, short stories, novels, biographies, essays, children’s books and commencement addresses. He writes nonfiction, fantasy, science fiction and horror.

The content of “The Neil Gaiman Reader: Selected Fiction” was chosen by his readers and is presented in chronological order. Fans can see his evolution as a writer and the recurring themes that appear in his work. Those who aren’t familiar with his work have a wonderfully handy place to start.

This collection is for adult readers. While some stories are appropriate for younger readers, many are not.

Gaiman is a master storyteller. Many of the stories are told in first person in a relaxed, conversational tone, yet his voice grabs and holds your attention. The stories showcase his imagination, sense of humor and interesting way of looking at things. And many of the stories stay with you long after you’ve turned the page.

The stories give a wink and a nod to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, H.P. Lovecraft, Ray Bradbury, fairy tales and mythology. One of the stories was written to celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Doctor Who.” If short stories aren’t your thing, the collection includes excerpts from several of Gaiman’s novels.

“Stardust” and “Neverwhere” are pure fantasy. While “Stardust” transports us to a world of castles, kings and faerie, “Neverwhere” brings the magic to modern day—to London Below. “American Gods” and “Anansi Boys” trade on mythology and the power of our beliefs. “The Ocean at the End of the Lane,” told from the point of view of a young boy, is dark fantasy and horror. Each novel is worth a read, but these little tastes will help you decide which you’d like to devour first.

No matter where you start, these long, chilly nights provide the perfect atmosphere to enjoy this new collection.

Tara Lee is Communities editor and news assistant at The Free Lance–Star.

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