Thursday, May 5, 2011

My First Foray into Sandman Territory

Book Reviewed:  Sandman Vol.3: Dream Country, by Neil Gaiman and various artists

One of my favorite things on the internet is NPR's Monkey See pop culture blog, which is run by the funny and smart Linda Holmes.  Every once in a blue moon, Monkey See puts on the "I Will If You Will Book Club."  In April, Holmes and NPR book/comics critic Glen Weldon (who is VERY funny) announced that the latest pick would be volume three of Neil Gaiman's famous and much-loved Sandman series.  Volume three, entitled Dream Country, features four stand-alone comics from the series.  I decided I should follow along this time around, especially since I'm a Gaiman fan who's never read any of the Sandman books. 

The IWIYW Book Club discussion is still ongoing, but I decided to just go ahead and finish the whole book so I could return it to my library for someone else to enjoy.  This was my first encounter with The Sandman, but I am certain it will not be my last.  These comics are strange and at times a little alienating (I've read enough graphic novels to be fairly comfortable with the genre, but I still struggle a bit with reading them), but they are quite a bit of twisted fun.  The world of Sandman is bizarre and never dull.  The title character who ties all the parts of the series together is the god of dreams, often called Morpheus.  He's menacing and helpful in equal measure and sometimes both at once.  Dream Country features four stories: "Calliope," which is about a writer's muse; "A Dream of a Thousand Cats," which is exactly what it sounds like; "A Midsummer Night's Dream," which is a re-imagining of Shakespeare's play; and "Facade," about a superheroine who wants to die but can't.  All of these books are about the thin line between reality and the dream world.

Of these four stories, I would say that "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is the most thought-provoking and outwardly weird, but I found "A Dream of a Thousand Cats" to be the most unsettling because of the ideas and tone it presents.  The kind of world-building fantasy that marks the Sandman books isn't up my alley per se, but I still found this book sufficiently creepy and interesting.  It might take a while for me to get to, but I do plan on reading more Sandman in the future.

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