Evidently the stress of writing a nice coherent plot in The Doll’s House proved temporarily too much for Neil Gaiman, and he took a break to write some single-issue self-contained stories. And these are some damn good stories. Except I don’t like “Façade”. I remember not liking it so um, I sort of skipped it this time. I know! I could read “24 Hours” but not “Façade”? I don’t know what’s wrong with me.
No, actually, I know exactly why I did that. Lately I’ve been getting ready for bed around eight, then lying in bed reading for several hours. I collect three or four books that I might feel like reading, climb up onto my bed (it’s a loft bed, so once I’m up there, I’m generally too lazy to come down before morning), and read until I can’t keep my eyes open anymore. And last night, when I was reading Dream Country, I had Season of Mists sitting enticingly on the pillow. So when I got to “Façade”, I just couldn’t stand the idea that there was this one story – a story I don’t even like – standing between me and the first issue of Season of Mists, probably my favorite single issue from a complete storyline (as compared with the self-contained stories), because I love it when the Endless all get together and hang out (though I hate how Delirium is drawn in this one).
Now I feel guilty. I will probably go back and read “Façade” this evening, out of guilt.
Anyway, the other three stories are very, very good. I like “Calliope” the best. It’s not that I don’t like the other two – I do – but I just like “Calliope” way the best. “Dream of a Thousand Cats” is a smidge too – I don’t know, I think it takes itself a tiny bit too seriously, considering how whimsical a story it is. And “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” is gorgeous and delightful, and no wonder it won a prize, but I am not in love with Sandman’s treatment of Shakespeare. I love Shakespeare. AND HE WAS NOT FRANCIS BACON AND HE DID NOT MAKE A DEAL WITH DREAM AND HE WAS A GENIUS BY HIMSELF OKAY?
Calm down, Jenny.
Anyway, I think “Calliope” is great. I adore the brief one-panel vignettes you see of Richard Madoc – chatting up a girl at a party and telling her he does consider himself a feminist writer – then going home to the woman he’s keeping prisoner so he can be a genius. And as well, this story casts Dream in a better light than we’ve really seen him. His last two encounters with women haven’t been nice: condemning Nada to hell forever and ditching Lyta Hall all pregnant and despairing. I’m always glad to see him being helpful to Calliope and screwing up Madoc’s life permanently – though without the vindictiveness I would have expected. (This is change on his part. Watch how it will remain a theme.)
Next up: Season of Mists. I love Season of Mists. It was my favorite for a few weeks in June 2004, and although I now like other volumes better, this one still holds a special place in my heart.