THE STRANGE LIBRARY by Haruki Murakami

January 8, 2015

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Translated by Ted Goossen

This is an odd little book. First of all, the designer is Chip Kidd, who regular readers of this blog know I am obsessed with. He has created some of the most iconic book covers around, and this is no exception. In fact, it reminded me a bit of The Cheese Monkeys, a book Chip Kidd wrote and designed.

The Strange Library is a sort of hybrid hardcover/paperback. The cover feels like stiff cardboard rather than paper, and lifts upward, with the bottom part opening downward. The paper is nice and heavy as well.

The text is large, and there are several full page illustrations throughout so this is a very fast read. Kidd explores Murakami’s nightmares beautifully.

The story revolves around a boy who visits the library to research a report. The librarian intimidates him into staying late and studying, with other worldly results in this fantastic story bordering on horror. There are only a few characters; besides the boy and the librarian there is a man in sheep’s clothing and a beautiful young wraith. It’s scary and fun.

This is a book I will happily find room for on my shelves; beautiful, weird and memorable.

1/15 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch

THE STRANGE LIBRARY by Haruki Murakami. Knopf (December 2, 2014). ISBN 978-0385354301. 96p.


THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS by Neil Gaiman

July 7, 2014

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A Tale of Travel and Darkness with Pictures of All Kinds

Illustrated by Eddie Campbell

It is said that on the Misty Isle there is a cave. Within this cave lies a fortune in gold ready for the taking. Some say this gold is cursed but others will not believe it. Calum MacInnes has been hired to guide a small man to the cave. But this man hasn’t been entirely truthful about what he seeks on his journey. For it is not gold the man wishes to come away with, but something else entirely.

This latest from Gaiman is actually an illustrated hardcover edition of a short story that previously appeared in the 2010 collection, Stories, edited by Neil Gaiman and Al Sarrantonio. The tale ultimately won both the Locus and Shirley Jackson awards for Best Novelette. That same year, Gaiman read the story aloud in a performance at the Sydney Opera House, accompanied by a string quartet and projected paintings by Eddie Campbell.

Since then, the short has been read aloud in a second performance and recorded on audio as well (and is offered in an enhanced multimedia edition read by Gaiman and featuring the original score).

The story is, per Gaiman’s style, a fairy tale of sorts for adults. It’s a dark tale of vengeance and secrets. While the Stories collection is one I highly recommend for short fiction fans, The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains is fabulous on its own in this new edition. Eddie Campbell’s art is a wonderful complement to the tale, making this a must have for any Neil Gaiman fan’s collection.

7/14 Becky Lejeune

THE TRUTH IS A CAVE IN THE BLACK MOUNTAINS by Neil Gaiman. William Morrow; Ill edition (June 17, 2014). ISBN 978-0062282149. 80p.