May 22, 2012

Dream Country

the Sandman
by Neil Gaiman

This volume only had four stories, but I found them all interesting. The first, "Calliope," is of a writer who's at a dead end, lost his creativity. He ensnares one of the ancient muses and keeps her captive for years while his popularity as an artist flourishes. Calliope begs Morpheus to help free her and he does- by granting the writer his desire in excess- quite a clever and horrific thing to do, it appeared.

In "A Dream of a Thousand Cats" a cat embittered by her human family drowning her kittens seeks out the Dream Cat (now, I realize, Morpheus in a different shape, just as there was a large dark Dream Fox) for answers and learns a secret of the past. The enlightened cat returns to the world to preach to all cats she encounters, telling them they can rise up against the humans- if only the cats would deign to do things together. It was so clever I laughed.

"A Midsummer Night's Dream" has Morpheus heavily involved in the inspiration and initial production of Shakespeare's play- with fairies and all kinds of imps curiously looking on. It was intriguing, but didn't captivate me as much as the cat story.

The last tale, "Facade" was the one I had the hardest time with. I think again, it's because I'm not familiar with comics and the figures that normally populate them. This one seems to be about a woman superhero figure who is not longer active and finds herself fading, to the point where she just wants life to be over (she's been around a long time). But try as she might, she just can't die- she's invincible, of course. Death (Dream's older sibling, personified as a punky girl here, which surprised me the first time I saw her character) happens by and gives her some assistance, not in the way you'd expect. If I've got this wrong, will someone please correct me? I'm still not quite sure what was going on there.

I am finding that the more of these Sandman volumes I read, the more I like them. I'm definitely continuing now. This volume also has a script included in the back- Gaiman's original writings of the comic- dialog and scenes described- with notes added into the margins by Neil Gaiman and Kelly Jones (one of the artists). I didn't read that, but found Gaiman's introduction to the script interesting, as it described some of his creative process. Also something I haven't mentioned yet is how wonderful the introductions to all these volumes have been. They're written with gorgeously rich language extolling Gaiman's praises and describing the wonders of his imaginations. I was fascinated and wonder-struck merely by reading the intro- which did just what it aimed to do, I suppose- draw another reader into the Sandman universe.

Rating: 3/5 ........ 160 pages, 1990


bermudaonion said...

Gaiman is hit or miss for me. I've never tried the Sandman books though and it sounds like I need to.

Jeane said...

I haven't read much Gaiman, but so far of all his works the Sandman stories are the ones I like best.

Jenny said...

Yeppers, that "Facade" story is never any good for me. I've read it a bunch of times since I first encountered Sandman, and it's never made more than a low-to-medium amount of sense to me. By now I just skip it when I'm rereading the series.