The Sandman 5: A Game of You – Neil Gaiman

The Sandman 5: A Game Of You (Sandman Collected Library)The Sandman 5: A Game Of You by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

<spoiler alert>

This is the first long-form Sandman story that doesn’t break in between for a short, breather tale. It’s a different style from Book 2: The Doll’s House which was probably the last one that was so dark and intense.

A Game of You is a connecting story from the first half to the second half of the Sandman arc. At another, more in-your-face level, it’s a fantasy tale, set in the mind of Barbie (whom we first met in Book 2: The Doll’s House). A mythical land, magical creatures and a mysterious villian called the cuckoo populate this tale. The bizarre side of this tale comes from dreams seeping into the real world with the neighboring geek-girl turning out to be a crusading witch, the loser next door as a spooky agent of the enemy and everyone else just a blind follower in the melee.

It’s hard to explain why this book falls on the low for me while the other Sandman books vie for top billings. I’m not a huge fantasy fan and in the visual/textual format, it feels too much like a kid cartoon. The story though, is gristly enough to make me feel slightly sick. To top it all, the hard gritty narrative is not even tempered with a shorter, lighter tale as with the other stories.

I didn’t like this book much and on my most of my re-reads of Sandman, I prefer to skip over this tale. Still, it is a part of the Sandman arc and contributes in its own way to it. Characterisation, a strong feature of the Sandman saga, continues here in the form of Thessaly(who got her own standalone story in ‘Thessaly: Witch for Hire‘) and the lesbian couple, Hazel & Foxglove/Donna (who also featured in another breakout story, the very sweet ‘Death: The Time of your life‘).

Read this one, if only because it provides continuity to the next Sandman episode and since it leads the reader into two other great books.

View all my reviews or just The Sandman reviews

The Sandman 4: Season of Mists – Neil Gaiman


Season of Mists
by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

<spoiler alert>

The fourth Sandman book is where you get to meet the entire Endless family in one place – or at least the still active ones. Destiny, the eldest, calls for a family conclave. Desire needles Dream about sentencing Nada (from Book 2: The Doll’s House) to hell for declining his proposal. Death, while attempting to pacify Dream, concedes that he has indeed been unfair to Nada. Stung by this, Dream resolves to go to Hell to bring Nada back.

Dream prepares for his destruction in Hell, anticipating that Lucifer would not have forgiven him for the Choronzon episode (from ‘A Hope in Hell’-Book 1:Preludes & Nocturnes). To his surprise, he finds Hell’s gates open to him and furthermore, Lucifer clearing out Hell. The Devil abdicates his role, locks up Hell and hands over to Dream. Left in charge of the most prized real estate in the psychic world, Dream finds himself being alternated propositioned and threatened by the various factions wanting possession.

Once again, a Sandman story performs a double-act with a narrative that entertains and at a meta level, leaves us with a profound idea – In carrying a grudge, we condemn our loved ones and also ourselves to hell. We aren’t condemned to hell; we condemn ourselves to it. The Devil may be no more than a hapless, twisted aspect of ourselves, struggling from patterns and ultimately falling into it again.

As with the second book, this gritty narrative is interspersed with the spooky but oddly cheerful tale of Charles Rowling, a schoolboy murdered in a bizarre boarding school ritual. The story also ties in with the larger theme of hell.

“I think Hell’s something you carry around with you. Not somewhere you go.”

View all my reviews or just The Sandman reviews

Trash Thought

Met an old friend day before yesterday. And we bitched about someone I’ve loathed for 4 years. Last night, the loathsome creature appeared in my dreams, begging for forgiveness.

My dreams are part-fantasy, part-primetime-trash-thought reruns.

You Spoke To Me

saturday-giantwheel-3

…and your delicious words soothed their way into my parched dreams..

Love And Longing In Mumbai

Meet me in my dreams
Because that’s the only place I’ll let you exist
Tell me anything you like, your silliest moments, your heartfelt desires
I’ll do my best to make them true
And we’ll live through fantasy

The next morning, when I wake up in my world
And you in yours
Don’t try to hold on to me
Or even feign recognition when you see me
Because I won’t reciprocate

I can be anything you want me to be
All but the one you meet behind closed eyes
Wings are reserved for private flights of fantasy only
Goodnight, stranger.
Hello, fantasy.

Athena

The thrill of her chase used to be about impossible dreams in the future
And wrestling them into submission

Now that nothing’s impossible anymore,
She finds herself thinking often of the past
Conjuring visions of how life would’ve been, if it hadn’t gone the other way

Nothing spells unachievable
Like what may have been…and wasn’t.

Hysterical

A day in 55-word notes…

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~
Last night

It was madness
I’m not afraid of madness
It’s the thought of being locked away for it that holds me back
That madness hasn’t left me; Oh joy!
One moment, one blink…is all it needs.

Love is madness, a screaming, hysterical madness.

I fell asleep last night with that thought.
And I dreamt all night.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~
The Dream

Missing the lift everybody took
14-floor sprint in pitch blackness
Stumbling over sleeping dogs
Sliding into the lift, just as it shut

Made it!

Realising I was on the wrong bus
With my group
But no one was going my way

When I woke up
I wanted to go back to sleep and dream more.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~
The Conversation

And then, later this morning

I can’t believe you’re doing this..

I am doing it.

I can see that but I can’t believe it!

Don’t be melodramatic!

But I’m not! I’m being myself for a change.

But I didn’t say that last sentence; I didn’t let the madness overcome me.
The dream lingers. Madness hidden.

~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~o~
Finale

Never realized till now
That I recognized the same madness in you
Each time, it stabbed me
I didn’t want to cry out
So retreated to sanity
Would you suspect, recognition would draw a cry of joy?

Yet I acknowledge
Your hysteria, not for me
Joy and rage would join
In my cry of madness.

Some Day…

Some day, I will write a novel
Some day, I will get up on time and not be late for a single thing all day
Some day, I will smile the whole day and not wince, pout, scowl or frown even once
Some day, I will learn music and be the polished diamond, not the uncut one
Some day, I will dress the way I want to and to hell with anyone who doesn’t approve
Some day, I will really enjoy myself and not worry about the flip side of fun
Some day, I will actually do these things and not just build castles in the air

“Some day” is a treacherous phrase. It is a double-edged sword.

If it weren’t for our belief that some point in the future is waiting for us with all the dials set to “Perfect” when we can live all our dreams and be the best that we are and do whatever we please……well, there wouldn’t be a hell to go to after death, would there…because it would be on earth?

And this “some day” is what keeps that point in the future and very much distantly so.

Some day…I will figure out what this whole thing called life is about.
For the time being I’m running a minute…or two…or a hundred behind the rest of the world. Till I catch up…life is what’s going to happen “some day”.

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