The Truth Is a Cave In the Black Mountains by Neil Gaiman and Eddie Campbell – A Book Review

Written by the renowned Neil Gaiman, this small picture book is unlike anything I’ve ever read.  Perhaps picture book is too simple a phrase, for that conjures up something meant for a child, which this book clearly is not.  At seventy-three pages, I read this tale in less than an hour. Every page is comprised of paintings, drawings, and even photography that weave in and out of each other and provide endless opportunities for inspection.

The story itself is something of a mystery, something of a fairy tale, something horrific, and something also amusing.  It satisfies on every level, and as soon as I finished it, I immediately reread the beginning to find the clues I’d previously ignored.   The signs are there.  The omens are given.  The fortunes read.

I don’t want to reveal much more about this story, for I think the less known the more fulfilling it is.  Just know that it is masterfully written, with just enough dialogue, description, and narration to ignite a spark within your imagination not easily forgotten.

And, just as Gaiman created a provocative short story, Eddie Campbell delivers artwork no less significant.  Like the story itself, the art of the book is multifaceted and unlike anything I’ve ever quite experienced.  As already stated, Campbell sometimes works photography into the illustrations, sometimes creates beautiful paintings, and sometimes scribbles simple line drawings with a touch of color.  Sometimes the prose and dialogue are placed within a traditional comic book sequence of panels, and sometimes they adhere to the traditions of a picture book with the prose within the illustration or juxtaposed to it.

I’ve read much of Gaiman’s work—comic books, children’s books, and novels—and I assure you that this is one of his most gratifying efforts.

 

Whitman Illuminated: Song of Myself Illustrated by Allen Crawford – A Book Review

I firmly believe the publishing world must always adapt, evolve, and break new ground.  This book does just that.  Yes, it is Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, unaltered and unabridged.  However, Allen Crawford blended art and text to create something entirely new, all while still honoring the original poem.  Each page progresses the poem and integrates it with art.  At times, the text is virtually unreadable because it twists and turns, but it always serves a purpose, it always works in tandem with the illustration.

This book is like a riddle in that you must reposition it in order to read every page, you must study the illustration on each page to decipher its relevance to the text; in short, you must pause and ponder.  That’s not a bad thing.

If you only want a copy of Song of Myself, this book probably isn’t for you.  Like I said, it is at times virtually unreadable.  Rest assured you can find thousands of versions of the original poem in bookstores, online, or in any English textbook beginning at the seventh grade level.

But, if you appreciate Song of Myself and want to see it in a new light, this book will delight.  If you desire to see something a little different from the publishing industry, this is a superb example.  If you love art, text, and any combination of the two, this book is for you.

Or maybe you just want to see an item that exemplifies blood, sweat, and tears, and you want to reward the creator’s hard work by saying, “You did something unique, honorable, and interesting.  I want to support your efforts by purchasing the book.”

Whatever the case may be, if you fall into any of the previous categories, I truly think you’ll enjoy this book.