Monday, 8 March 2010
‘Prince of Stories: The Many Worlds of Neil Gaiman’ – Hank Wagner, Christopher Golden & Stephen R. Bissette (St. Martin’s Griffin)
A few weeks ago, I left a post here going on about how I don’t normally read biographies and invited readers to vote on whether I read and reviewed a Stephen King or Neil Gaiman biography. Neil Gaiman’s ‘Prince of Stories’ won the vote so imagine how red my face was when I had a closer look at the book and realised it wasn’t a biography at all, not really. This means that the Stephen King biography will be read at some point in the near future. ‘Prince of Stories’ still fitted very nicely into my resolution to read books that I wouldn’t normally look at though so I went with it...
There is a biographical element to the very early stages of this work but it is really only place Gaiman in context in terms of what the book sets out to be, a reference work detailing what looks like pretty much everything Gaiman has ever written. As much as I’ve enjoyed the books by Gaiman that I’ve read, I’m only a fan of passing interest so couldn’t tell you if this is everything that he’s turned out. The list looks hefty enough though that you can easily believe that this is the lot though; it’s all handily categorised (children’s books, scripts, comics etc) so you can head straight to the section you want.
This was a good thing for me as (only being a passing fan) I found that a lot of Gaiman’s work doesn’t hold a lot of interest for me. I was keen to learn more about the ‘Sandman’ series (having only read the first book) but wasn’t too bothered about the scripts that he had written. As well written as the book is (and it is) I was hobbled by my indifference to certain aspects about Gaiman’s writing career. If I’m not interested in it then I’m not going to read about it. If you’re a hardcore Neil Gaiman fan then I’m guessing that this will obviously be different! Wagner, Golden and Bissette go all out to give their readers a fully immersive look into what lies behind each piece of writing by Gaiman and each piece certainly has a story to tell. No detail is spared and that’s got to be a good thing for anyone picking this book up.
Having said all that, it was kind of funny that I enjoyed reading ‘Prince of Stories’ as a book that you can just pick up and browse through, opening pages at random to see what was there. Although there were things that I wasn’t particularly interested in, some of the stories behind the stories were worth sticking around for. I particularly enjoyed the story of ‘A Modest Proposal’, a story that I wouldn’t have reached if I’d been reading the book in a conventional manner but one that stood out even more through the fact that I found it purely by chance. ‘Prince of Stories’ is full of little gems like this and half the fun I had with this book was diving in at random and seeing what I found.
Any book that’s this much ‘pure concentrated Gaiman’ is only really going to satisfy long term fans; if you’re anything like me then you may find this book a little too much to take in one go. Open a page at random though and have a read; this book is full of little gems for those willing to take the time to look, the odds are that you’ll find one sooner than you think.
Eight and a Quarter out of Ten