Sunday, August 26, 2007

the charm

I absolutely adored the idea of the Short Story Sunday Peril (just one of Carl's many fabulous "perils" for his R.I.P. II Reading Challenge this year). For whatever reason, though I thoroughly enjoy short stories, I don't often read them. This is just the incentive I needed. I'd even picked up a few books of short stories over the course of the summer, but hadn't gotten down to reading them yet.

One of the books I picked up was Neil Gaiman's M Is for Magic. I've been dying to dig into it, but something always seemed to come along to thwart my plans. But our little trip this past week gave me the perfect opportunity. I started with the first story (I'm so compulsive that read them out of order would probably give me heart failure). "The Case of the Four and Twenty Blackbirds"...I found it so delightfully clever! I'll bet I told Rich at least 3 times that he "must" read it. But having said all that, I didn't feel it really fit into the dark, creepy, eerie category. "Oh darn, now I have to read another one," she says oozing with sarcasm.

So, on to "Troll Bridge". I have to admit I wasn't quite as taken with this story as I was with the first. Not that I didn't like it...I did. In fact, I loved the way he transported me right back into my childhood. I felt the tenderness of my feet in those early days each summer before they were "broken in"...I remembered how absolutely convinced I was of the value of my found treasures...I relived the limitless adventures that could be found in a simple patch of woods. And this story was certainly more fitting for the challenge. But something about ending left me feeling disappointed. I can't quite put my finger on it. So, I was off in search of another story.

Hmmm...and believe it or not we just happened to run into a book store while staying in Toronto. Oh, okay, I didn't actually need to buy a new book of short stories, but I just happened to see Stephen King's Everything's Eventual and I couldn't resist. Back, all those many, many, many years ago, when I was in high school and throughout much of my 20s, I read everything Stephen King wrote. Everything. But then, for reasons unknown even to me, I just sort of drifted away. The R.I.P. II Challenge...could there possibly be a better time to get reacquainted? I'd already bought Cell, but I figured some short stories would be a nice addition to my perilous reading.

And yes, "Autopsy Room Four" was definitely the charm for me! This story is what R.I.P. is all about (at least, in my mind)...this story creeped me out! Yes, real honest-to-goodness physical queasiness. There were times when I literally had to close the book and take a few deep breaths. The whole concept of being mistaken for dead and being buried (or worse) alive is certainly nothing new. But Stephen King, master that he is, brought new life (no pun intended) to the idea. The way he drew out the terror was masterful...I kept thinking that I couldn't possibly take anymore. On more than one occasion, Rich actually asked me if I was o.k. Now, I fully admit that part of this may just be that I am a horrible wimp. (Heck, my own grandma once called me a that's bad!) But I'm fairly certain that this story will give most anyone at least a small dose of "the creeps"!


Chris said...

I know exactly what you mean about Troll Bridge. I felt the same way about the ending to that story. Sort of an "oh...that's how that goes?" I do love Gaiman's short stories though. I'm about to dig into one in the Wizards collection right after this comment in fact!

Stephen King's Cell is excellent in my opinion. I know there are many who weren't too big of a fan of that one, but I really enjoyed it. Hope you do too!

Nymeth said...

I actually liked the ending of "Troll Bridge" - I thought it added another dimension to the whole story, made it more unsettling, I don't know. But I also see where you're coming from. I am ashamed to say I have not yet read any Stephen King. I need to correct that.

Chris said...

I see your point Nymeth...I guess I shouldn't say that I disliked it so much as that it was, as you put it, very unsettling...definitely not the happy ending you were hoping for ;) But hey! That's what the RIP Challenge is all about :)

Carl V. said...

I didn't mind the ending to Troll Bridge either. It isn't my favorite Gaiman short story, but it is one I enjoy. All the interactions he had with the troll were very disturbing as was the end.

I was surprised that this and a few other stories were in M is for Magic since it is being marketed as a children's book. I know, I sound prudish, but it is placed in the younger age section of bookstores and the description of his penis isn't something I would want my little kid reading. Plus stories like How to Talk to Girls at Parties just don't seem appropriate.

In fact, I find it hilarious that Interworld is shelved in the Teen Section and M is for Magic in the kid's section when it should be completely opposite in my opinion.

Anyway, off my soapbox. You picked some really good short stories to start with. There are some great ones in M is for Magic. Look forward to seeing what others you choose for your Sunday reading.

Debi said...

I had the same reaction about the troll's penis. Definitely the reason I'm not having Annie read that one. Not that "penis" is anything shocking to her or anything. But I think kids that young, at least many of them, would latch right onto that as being funny, and somehow fail to appreciate the story itself. Frankly, I'm not really sure why he felt the need to include that description. But hey, it's not my story, right?

Marina said...

I'd like to second Chris's assessment of "Cell." I listened to it last year, and I think the audio added a lot to the story.

I have Everything's Eventual [somewhere around here], but I hadn't planned on reading it for the challenge. If some of my others don't work out, though, I may change my mind.

Marina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bookfool said...

I just happened across "M is for Magic" at the library, this afternoon, and snatched it up. I'll have to come back and tell you if that story that didn't satisfy you leaves me feeling the same. I wasn't a big fan of "Coraline," but there was something about his writing that made me want to read more.

gautami tripathy said...

Yet to read any Gaiman. I will remedy that soon!