I give destiny much credit for my discovery of this gem. It’s like I was meant to
find it, and I’m very happy I did.
I knew of Gaiman mainly from Coraline and haven’t had much exposure to his full spectrum of work – a fact that I now feel much shame for. I first heard of Smoke and Mirrors when we did one of the short stories, “The Wedding Present”, in my English module at university. I fell in love with it, and remained in love even after writing a 2000 word essay on it.
While I had the story on my mind, since I had to find an argument to write about for my essay, I walked in a bookstore and casually strolled to the Sci-Fi and Fantasy section. Past all the Game of Thrones books I found something that stood out a little. Looking closer, I saw that it was Smoke and Mirrors and my heart skipped a beat. I think many people heard me gasp at that moment, but I did not care one bit. I immediately bought it!
Gaiman, in short, is a genius storyteller. There is just something about his style and flair that is just able to captivate you and mystify you and turn your world upside-down and inside-out.
Smoke and Mirrors is a collection of short stories and poems that Gaiman wrote. Although there is no apparent theme that connects the stories, apart from the fact that they are all Fantasy, there seems to be some unifying element in their not-unifyingness. The stories actually seem to center around how short stories are like magic tricks that use smoke and mirrors to lure the audience. The stories range from very short to long and deal with subject matters that range from strange and freaky to outright pornographic.
My favourite story was “The Goldfish Pool and Other Stories”. It was written in extreme cleverness and really does show the true nature of Hollywood. Not that I really know what Hollywood is like, but I at least have enough interest in “show business” to know about it. I also liked “Cold Colours” for its imagery and strange bizarre-ness.
I’m not really a poetry man. I prefer my poems to rhyme or at least have some rhythm, and the majority of his poems did not. With some I found some rhythm, but it was very hard and I ended up reading it like prose.
For the more pornographic stories I was very wary to read around my parents. I was afraid someone would read over my shoulder and see words like “penis”, “sex” and “erection”, and then I would have to explain. Luckily that did not happen, but I’m not suggesting my family should read it, otherwise they are going to look at me funny.
Apart from the strange nature of the poems, I really enjoyed reading Smoke and Mirrors and actually has inspired me to write more short stories (I just need to find more motivation…). Gaiman is my new favourite author and literary hero!