You ask me if I can forgive myself? I can forgive myself....
And so begins The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains, a haunting story of family, the otherworld, and a search for hidden treasure. This audiobook is brought to vivid life by the characters and landscape of Gaiman’s award-winning story. In this volume, the talents and vision of two great creative geniuses come together in a glorious explosion of color and shadow, memory and regret, vengeance and, ultimately, love.
...for many things. For where I left him. For what I did.
©2010 Neil Gaiman (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
This is a dark short story told in first person by an un-named man going on a quest to the Black Mountains. He hires a guide to take him there, disclosing little of himself or his reason for the journey. His tale unfolds slowly, bit by bit as the two travelors encounter challenges along the way, not fully trusting each other, but needing to rely on each other anyway. This slow buildup initially felt like nothing was really going on, but have patience. As pieces of each man's stories are revealed, the tension begins to mount right up to the opening of the mountain cave which is their destination. And then, as the title suggests, there is the truth.
It pains me to give anyting less than 5 stars to a Gaiman recording, but in this case it's not because of his narration, which is perfection as always. There is a musical score that plays throughout the story that often becomes more than just background. The listener's sample gives you some idea of the music. There are some parts that are more intrusive, but also many parts where the music benefits the atmosphere. But the fact that the score made itself so obvious lost one star.
If you have ever listened to Gaiman being interviewed, to his podcasts, or been lucky enough to attend one of his performance readings you'll understand the Gaiman experience. The experience goes far beyond reading one of his books. His voice is almost a magical instrument that lifts the words off the pages. I'm not an expert or even a follower of Gaiman's, but I've read a few of his novels, even a couple of his graphic novels. It was after listening to him read just a few paragraphs of The Truth Is a Cave on the radio that I went looking for the rest of the fable -- specifically, him reading the novelette himself. I wasn't looking for the end of the story, as captivating as it was, but rather being under Gaiman's spell during the journey.
He is a performance artist. His voice is like a ripple in time that harkens back to nights tucked safely under a cozy blanket, listening to a bedtime story...a huge, dark story more Grimm than Disney. I wasn't a child that closed my eyes and dreamed of princesses with golden hair or frogs that burst into handsome princes...I closed my eyes and shivered with delighted at the trolls, goblins, and witches that lived in gingerbread houses.
A trait I realized I passed onto my own grandchildren: one night I told my 3 little ones a story, embellishing as much as I could to compete with Spongebob Squarepants. With attention to their tender ages, and the fact that they each were expected to sleep in their own beds once the lights went out, I was careful to balance the scary tale with some sparkle. It was completely silent when I finished, and I waited to assess their emotional state...then the oldest child whispered, "tell us more about the bad wolves." They still ask me to tell them that story; they've heard it dozens of times, yet still want the experience. Gaiman reminds me that I still need an occasional *tuck in* experience, to feel swept away into far away lands where shivers can be delightful.
It's a short story I think best left to the interpretation of the listener. An award winning tale I found charming, brilliant in its sparseness and illusion, but I wouldn't say it is a work of staggering genius unless you can hear it told by the author. As noted by another reviewer, the music is part of the presentation. I enjoyed it because I expected it, but can understand that it might be distracting if you just want straight story: try out the sample. Trying to recreate Gaiman's lauded public performance of this piece didn't work entirely, so I recommend switching to the kindle version to see the collaboration with artist Eddie Campbell. His paintings, whatever you may think of his style, do add an additional dimension. At the price of a ticket to a performance, the book is worth paying for, keeping your credit for those $40 behemoth novels . *Also: You can find this complete novelette on line -- free to read. Audible won't appreciate that announcement, but you won't get Gaiman whisking you away -- and that is priceless.
I love almost all of NGs work, but this was not one of them. The back ground music and the acoustical treatment was distracting. The story was interesting and his reading was good, but missed the pace that his work usually has. I would have preferred that it had been more of a story that was told and become suspended in that world w/ out the interruption of the discordant musical track. I did like the quartet but not here.
While the score can be intrusive, it is also hauntingly beautiful, and perfectly sets the tone of the piece, which can be enjoyed in a single sitting. It's certainly an expensive purchase at its current price, but worth every penny. There are very few audiobooks that I would take the trouble to listen to twice, much less ten times. This is one of those rare creatures.
I have no idea how Gaiman manages to write such beautiful tales that reach so deeply into our hearts, that seem so familiar that we feel we must have heard them before, whilst knowing that we are experiencing it for the first time. I only know that he stands so far removed from any other author that he might as well be practicing a different trade. The only work he's touched that hasn't brought tears to my eyes is his unfortunate collaboration with Terry Pratchett, a fact I might have anticipated by the involvement of Terry Pratchett.
Short as it is, this is one of his best works. If you do not purchase the audiobook, purchase the print version. If you cannot afford to do that, visit the library at your earliest convenience. This is an essential experience for anyone who loves great literature.
I home-school and am married with three sons. Listening to books while I get things done (like driving) has become a favorite pass-time.
This may be the best short story, mystery-type thriller I have ever read so far. Clever and unusual. I will remember it always. I love the audio and the music paired with it. Neil's narrating is genuine. I think I will be reading more of his books.
The mood, character and color of his voice appropriately matches the need of the story.
It made me gasp.
This book unfolds as a Folk Tale. The storyline is dark and harsh, even though the magic does prevail in the end. The novel is detail- rich, but not in a way that draws you in. The reader does, however, experience a unique fantasy storyline and his usual assortment of quirky characters. Mr. Gaiman delivers a solid performance in narration, as usual. There is music that is almost presented as a score, and did not enhance the experience for me. This audiobook lacked something that other Gaiman books have, and unfortunately, was a disappointment for me.
This was a really good story, and Neil Gaiman is, as always, an excellent narrator. Unfortunately, someone decided that what this story needed was an orchestra as loud as five jet engines duct-taped together. There were moments here and there when the music was in sync with the story's mood, but mostly it was like trying to listen to one person while a second pesron chatters in your other ear. That's why the book got 4 stars for performance and 4 stars overall. If you can deal with the distracting occasionally obscuring music, then I still recomend this. Otherwise, there is aleways the hardcopy.
Granted, it's a short story, but I listened twice. I never do that. Loved the book. Don't know if Gaiman writes sequels, but if he did, I would love to read more about the main character. Writing this review, I can picture the scenes he painted in my mind's eye: dark and foreboding. Loved it. Will probably listen to it again.
I like realistic books that stretch the truth and the laws of physics...and also emotionally resonant narration that doesn't suck.
It's stories like this that remind me that Neil Gaiman is a deeply traditional story teller. He spins new mythology which sounds as though it's been passed down and embellished and honed over centuries. The musical part of the production really made it more of a "production" than just a reading too. I thought it set the mood beautifully.
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