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The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break: A Novel | [Steven Sherrill]

The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break: A Novel

Five thousand years out of the Labyrinth, the Minotaur finds himself in the American South, living in a trailer park and working as a line cook at a steakhouse. No longer a devourer of human flesh, the Minotaur is a socially inept, lonely creature with very human needs. But over a two-week period, as his life dissolves into chaos, this broken and alienated immortal awakens to the possibility for happiness and to the capacity for love.
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Publisher's Summary

Award-winning author, narrator, and screenwriter Neil Gaiman personally selected this book, and, using the tools of the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), cast the narrator and produced this work for his audiobook label, Neil Gaiman Presents.

A few words from Neil on The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break: "When Steve and I talked about the ideal voice for M, he suggested Holter Graham….because 'Holter’s handling of the Minotaur’s grunt was PERFECT. Exactly what I heard in my head.'"

Five thousand years out of the Labyrinth, the Minotaur finds himself in the American South, living in a trailer park and working as a line cook at a steakhouse. No longer a devourer of human flesh, the Minotaur is a socially inept, lonely creature with very human needs. But over a two-week period, as his life dissolves into chaos, this broken and alienated immortal awakens to the possibility for happiness and to the capacity for love. "Sherrill also insinuates other mythological beasts - the Hermaphroditus, the Medusa - into the story, suggesting how the Southern landscape is shadowed by these myths. The plot centers around the Minotaur's feelings for Kelly, a waitress who is prone to epileptic fits. Does she reciprocate his affections? As the reader might expect, the course of interspecies love never does run smooth." (Publishers Weekly) Steven Sherrill created the artwork used for the audiobook edition of The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break.

To hear more from Neil Gaiman on The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break, click here, or listen to the introduction at the beginning of the book itself.

Learn more about Neil Gaiman Presents and Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX).

©2000 Steven Sherrill (P)2011 John F. Blair Publisher

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.8 (795 )
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  •  
    Robert Mt. Pleasant, SC, United States 03-15-12
    Robert Mt. Pleasant, SC, United States 03-15-12 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Expected more"

    Expected more from this story. I enjoy Neil Gaiman's books and was expecting a little more of the quirky humor and imagination related to the minatours existence. Basicall he's a shy line cook with a speech impedimant and the story goes through 2 weeks of his life and him dealing with being awkward in relationships.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Maxwell Boulder, CO, United States 01-28-12
    Maxwell Boulder, CO, United States 01-28-12 Member Since 2008
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    "Excellent, very odd, and very sad"
    If you could sum up The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break: A Novel in three words, what would they be?

    Sadness, lonliness, isolation


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    The Minotaur.


    Have you listened to any of Holter Graham’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No I have not


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    This was a very good book, although the thing that really stays with you after both during and after finishing the book is the unrelenting sense of loneliness and sadness that the author imbues in the Minotaur. At times I found the book difficult to listen to because of this. The author did an amazing job of making the Minotaur feel like a real character that exists in the real world. He does such a good job at this that you sometimes forget that he is a mythical creature. This in and of itself can actually feel like a detriment, as the book loses some of the 'magic' that comes from writing about mythical creates.
    Ultimately, I think that this is definitely worth listening to, but just remember that it is not about mythology, it is about the lonliness, sadness and isolation that comes from being different from everyone around you.

    5 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Gregory Willmann Danbury, Ct USA 11-29-11
    Gregory Willmann Danbury, Ct USA 11-29-11 Member Since 2007
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    "An outstanding read"

    I wasn't sure what to expect when I decided to listen to this but ultimately I couldn't put it down and didn't want it to end. The story is "simple" yet so complex, the Minotaur is quite a character (in all senses of the word). Many books create situations (crisis) and the reader can typically figure out what will happen next, this is not one of those books. This isn't to say the results are outlandish or so far fetched one would never have imagined the outcome, it is a testament to the creativity of the author. I will definitely be be reading other books from the "Neil Gaiman Presents" series and if they are are as intriguing as this one it will be a wonderful journey. If your contemplating picking this up, do yourself a favor and go for it.

    8 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mary M Pettit 01-16-12
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "what a total waste of time!"
    This book wasn???t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    People who have nothing to do and don't really need a plot might like this story. The title of the book sounded like it should be funny, but it fell well short of that also.


    Has The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break: A Novel turned you off from other books in this genre?

    what genre? tasteless, mindless novels, yes, it has turned me way off of them.


    What about Holter Graham???s performance did you like?

    Holter Graham did do a good performance with the material he had to work with.


    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    01-01-12
    01-01-12
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    "neil you owe me one"
    What did you like best about The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break: A Novel? What did you like least?



    The fleeting discussion on the previous life


    Has The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break: A Novel turned you off from other books in this genre?

    I do not think you can categorize this book

    as any specific genre - would i hesitate from this author? yes


    What three words best describe Holter Graham???s performance?

    perfect orgasmic real


    Was The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break: A Novel worth the listening time?

    yes only because neil recommended it


    Any additional comments?

    neil owes me one

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Marti 10-28-11
    Marti 10-28-11 Member Since 2006

    Say something about yourself!

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Fun"

    The book is surreal and quirky. People that have never had the outsider experience may not appreciate the humor or reflections.

    11 of 15 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Garrie 08-27-14
    Garrie 08-27-14
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    "A Character Piece"
    What would have made The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break: A Novel better?

    Less graphic descriptions of sex and/or porn.


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    The quality of the writing wasn't bad, nor was the narration, the plot was even gripping at points but the details descriptions of some of the events weren't to my liking.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm sure that The Minotaur Take a Cigarette Break is a fantastic novel for some, just not for me. The journey in this case wasn't better than the destination, and a destination was never actually reached.

    I fell like this is the tale of a big oaf that has difficulty with his speech and if distracted can become very clumsy and break things due to his size. He desires to find companionship and the struggles involved with not being able to communicate well or fit in and we see the world as if locked in his head. By the way, did I mention the big oaf is the Minotaur.

    Having said that, It's a very interesting concept and well written. For no real reasons this book reminded me of the movie Fall Down, probably because that movie is a character piece as well. Character pieces are not something that interest me, I'm happy I gave it a try but it turns out that this book just wasn't for me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    K. Hamilton 08-07-14
    K. Hamilton 08-07-14 Member Since 2012
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    "Unusually quirky"

    I thought the narration was great and would listen to more books by Graham. The story was very different, with great detail about a small slice in the life of the Minotaur in modern times. I would only say I expected a different ending and frankly have not decided how I feel about it - not necessarily a bad thing - I just had a very different ending imagined.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jefferson 08-06-14
    Jefferson 08-06-14 Member Since 2010

    I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    ""The brevity of hearts in a labyrinth of days.""

    The one and only Minotaur is in North Carolina working as a cook in a popular restaurant called Grub's Rib. He cannot deny the "cannibalistic nature of his job," roasting and carving beef ribs: from the shoulders up he is a bull, complete with tough black skin, huge nose, giant tongue, full lips, and sharp horns. In his thousands of years of life--he is tepidly immortal--the Minotaur has been almost everywhere and seen almost everything, and his power, spirit, wildness, and, yes, malevolence, have been eroded by time and experience ("high, the costs of living"). Today his only ambition is to order his life around errands and work, keep a low profile, and belong, however tenuously, to the "team" of workers at Grub's Rib and to the community of tenants at Lucky U Mobile Estates, where he lives rent-free in return for fixing the used cars the owner sells there. No charismatic, bestial force of evil, the Minotaur is slow to anger and prone to worry, and is at core a voyeur who witnesses rather than influences events. He is not wholly useful in an emergency.

    Steven Sherrill's The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break (2000), then, is a slice of life from the Minotaur's millennia. He has a crush on an epileptic waitress; he must tolerate a pair of obnoxious young waiters; he is assigned a more public role at Grub's Rib; and although he deftly handles knives, tools, and the like and is a proficient and experienced cook, when distracted he is prone to accidents involving sharp instruments, hot oil, and unwieldy horns. The Minotaur senses a change coming, the kind that has in the past forced him to leave familiar places and roles to live and wander nomadically until he could find new ones.

    The Minotaur is a compelling character. As the quintessential outsider, he is able to view humanity objectively and freshly without ever quite being able to fit in. His otherness is increased by his inarticulateness: words fall "mutilated" from his mouth, and he communicates mostly via grunts ("Unnnnnh"), letting the context convey his meaning. His status as Other means that people use him as a sounding board or a confessional with which to express their plans, problems, and experiences, led to believe by the Minotaur's grunts that he's listening carefully and agreeing or disagreeing according to their needs. There are times when his linguistic limitations are unfortunate. There are times when his lack of common sense is boggling.

    One of the interesting features of Sherrill's novel is the way in which, after initial shock, disgust, or fear, people generally suffer the Minotaur as if he is "cloaked in a tenuous veil of complicated anonymity." Luckily, the important people in his life, like his boss, his landlord, and his fellow cooks are kind-hearted. Luckily, unlike what happens in The Man Who Fell to Earth, here no scientists try to imprison and study the Minotaur, who is, after all, indigenous to earth. Indeed, the Minotaur was created by the human psyche, he is at least half human, much of what he thinks or does or experiences "would be true even if he didn't have horns," and his blood "carries with it through his monster's veins the weighty, necessary, terrible stuff of human existence: fear, wonder, hope, wickedness, love." Sherrill, then, uses the Minotaur to imaginatively explore what it might feel like to be an immortal monster living a mundane life among mortal humans, thereby expressing what it might feel like to be any unusual human longing to fit in ("Even the monstrous among us need love").

    Sherill's style is rich, literate, and varied. He writes occasional poetic chapters to depict the Minotaur's memories and dreams:
    "For the meadow near Cnossus, where the hyacinth petals
    turn and turn out like so many palms refusing applause.
    Think of me, Pasiphae, in your moment of cramped ecstasy."

    He writes the vivid minutiae of life, as, for instance when he depicts some wasps in the glove compartment of an old car in a junkyard: "Whether the dozen or so wasps clinging to the nest, wings tucked like hard coats over their pinstriped articulated bodies, somber as pall bearers, but for the nervous antennae, whether they protect this treasure or are oblivious of it, is hard to tell."

    He writes pitch-perfect dialogue: "You ever stick anybody with one of them horns?"

    He writes lots of humor, dry ("It was an unsettling show, but he had seen worse"), bawdy (putt-putt golf accompanied by the sound from the speakers of an adult drive-in theater), cultural ("The GI Joe doll, singed and shell shocked"), or philosophical ("The crow's shadow mimics its master"). He is especially good with boys, so creative, destructive, sweet, malicious, stupid, and entertaining.

    The reader Holter Graham is perfect. His Minotaur grunt is great ("Unnnnh") and his white, black, and Hispanic male and female North Carolinian kids, teens, and adults all sound convincing and human. Graham makes nary a misstep--even when voicing porn actors in action.

    The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break is a quirky book. I'm not sure what it resembles. It is surely no heroic fantasy adventure or horror story! Neither does it feel like an urban fantasy of the Charles de Lint variety, because Sherrill uses the fantastic to show how human nature, relationships, and life are wonderful, terrible, bleak, and hopeful rather than to show how magic is just around the corner. Perhaps it most resembles Edward Scissorshands. If you don't expect a page-turning story featuring a quick-thinking, take-charge, "normal" hero, Sherrill's novel might make you chuckle, cringe, and sigh.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathie 07-08-13
    Kathie 07-08-13
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    "I gave up"

    Sorry, I just couldn't finish it. Got over 1/2 way but nothing was holding my interest. Good study for a short story but for a novel? The protagonist has to do something other than be a perpetual sad sack. I hope Sherrill finds a good audience, it's not me.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
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