This was the first opportunity that I have had to read Shoggoth’s Old Peculiar, which first appeared in Gaiman’s anthology Smoke and Mirrors. The story was first published 1998 in The Mammoth Book of Comic Fantasy, which I never knew existed – but now I definitely have to get on their mailing list!
A wet and miserable Ben Lassiter, a young and naive American, is taking a walking tour of the British coastline, following the instructions of a tour book – a tour book apparently written by a woman who “would probably not recognize the British coastline if it were to dance through her bedroom at the head of a marching band singing “I’m the British Coastline!” in a loud and cheerful voice while accompanying itself on the kazoo.”
When forced to take refuge from the rain, Ben wanders into a pub, the name of which is The Book Of Dead Names. Here meeting the very peculiar Seth and Wilf, Ben learns more than he may have wanted to know about Lovecraft, life, death and unspeakable horror.
Read by the author, this is a tiny gem of a story, paying homage to H.P. Lovecraft and displaying Gaiman’s quirky Brit sense of humour in all it’s glory. I picked it up on Audible.com as a freebie that is no longer available, but the short did just what it was supposed to do – it whetted my appetite for something from Gaiman that is just that little bit different than his norm, and ascertained my purchase of Smoke and Mirrors.
I have already purchased The Ocean at the End of the Lane and will be listening to that, and reviewing, as soon as I get caught up on my other work.
I began my love of Gaiman, as I would imagine many did, with American Gods. I read it in paperback back then, but I just purchased the Tenth Anniversary Edition narrated by a full cast of amazing narrators. I loved the George Guidall edition, but the new, Tenth Anniversary Edition is theater – the theater of the absurd and wonderful. Don’t get me wrong – Guidall is one of my all-time favorite narrators, but it will be worth it to read this one as well.
If you picked up this wonderful story, good on ya’. If now, you should really pick up Smoke and Mirrors just as I did. Hey, it’s Gaiman, it’s gotta be incredible!