Sunday, March 15, 2009

The Sandman: Dream Country...random thoughts


The Sandman: Dream Country by Neil Gaiman.

While not my favorite of the Sandman volumes that I've read so far, I'd be lying if I said I didn't love it. As opposed to following a continuing storyline, Dream Country is more of a collection of short stories.

In the first, "Calliope," we watch Richard Madoc, a once successful novelist, buy his way back to success and fame through enslaving a muse. It's an ugly look at the lengths some will go to to get what they want. Of the four stories in this volume, I believe this one and the one following are probably my favorites. "A Dream of a Thousand Cats," is a clever imagining of the power of dreams of all living creatures. Maybe not a cat story to share with Max, while at the same time, I think even he, at age six, could appreciate the underlying "justice" in the idea of turning "power" on its head. The third story, "A Midsummer Night's Dream," lets us in on the secret reason behind Shakespeare's writing of his delightful masterpiece. We watch him traveling with a theatrical troupe, and witness their performance before a very "special" audience. I'm glad I finally got around to reading Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream last year, or this story would have been much harder to follow. The very best part of this tale for me was the very last line...still makes me smile when I think about it. And finally, in the last story, "Facade," we meet Urania Blackwell, an ex-CIA agent who had to leave "the Company" after she was given an unwanted gift by the sun god Ra. This gift has left her a prisoner in her own home, and she wants desperately to die. But this gift has left her physically incapable of suicide. For me, this story seemed to end too quickly, and thus was probably my least favorite of the bunch. It's one incredibly saving grace is that Death reappears.

Being thoroughly comic-illiterate, I've often wondered how all the people, author, artist, letterer, etc. work together to put out a finished book. In a wonderful addition to the end of this compilation, I had some of my questions answered. For included is a script of "Calliope." And while Neil Gaiman is quick to point out that no two authors may work in quite the same way, I still found this a fascinating glimpse into the making of a comic.

*****

Other thoughts:

*Nymeth at Things Mean A Lot ("A Midsummer Nights Dream" from Dream Country)
*Kim at Bold. Blue. Adventure. (The Absolute Sandman: Volume One)
*Rhinoa at Rhinoa's Ramblings (The Sandman: Dream Country)

I know there must be more reviews out there, so if you've got one to share please leave me a link in the comments and I'll add it here. Thanks.

*****

Been so dang busy the last few days that I've had to stay away from blog world. Am hoping to catch up a bit today...hope everyone's been having a wonderful weekend!

12 comments:

Scrap girl said...

I shall add this to my list. I loved American Gods and feel I need to read more Neil Gaiman books.

Nymeth said...

I also prefer the "main" books to the short story collections, but still, what's not to love? My favourite is A Midsummer Night's Dream...after all, one of my favourite quotes ever comes from it.

I'm glad you enjoyed this one, Debi. And thanks for including my mini-review of the story! I had actually forgotten I'd written it :P

Debi said...

Scrap Girl,
American Gods is one of my all-time favorite books!

Nymeth,
You know, when I came across that quote in the story, I found myself smiling from ear-to-ear, because of course it made me think of you!

Trish said...

I had actually forgotten that these existed until just now. I'm still on the fence about Gaiman (I know...you and Nymeth can both stop shooting me daggers with your eyes!!), but I'll have to pick up a copy of one of these and see if it might be something I can fit into the OUT3 challenge. I still have American Gods sitting on my shelf--glad to hear that's one of your favorites.

J. Kaye said...

Another reminder I need to read a book by Neil Gaiman...lol!

Chris said...

Yay! You read the Midsummer Night's Dream story :D Love that one! I'm really enjoying your thoughts on these Debi :)

Bellezza said...

I've not read this, though I just finished Coraline last week. There are a whole lot of books out there resembling twisted fairy tales (being immersed in The Book of Lost Things currently). I'm always half amazed at Neil Gaiman and half like "What is he talking about?" Probably not qualifying as the most appreciative fan. ;)

Eva said...

Like Nymeth, my favourite was "A Midsummer Night's Dream." I don't think I got around to reviewing this one, even though I read it...let me check...nope. Whoops!

Kim L said...

This was a fun one, although very incidental to the rest of the series. I liked Dream of a Thousand Cats myself as well! I hope you enjoy the next ones in the series.

Rhinoa said...

I read this last weekend but am a little behind on my reviews (now 7 oops). I really liked the cat short story, very cool. Once I put my review up I will link yours in.

Carl V. said...

The Midsummer Night's Dream storyline in Sandman is one of my favorites for many reasons. Vess' fantastic art, the story itself, the dark Faustian nature of what is going on. Very, very good story arc. And it was the one that won the World Fantasy Award and set the whole literary world blazing that a 'comic book' should not win said award. I'm almost positive they amended the rules after this so that it wouldn't happen again.

Kailana said...

I should probably give this series another try...