Title: Dream Country
Author: Neil Gaiman
Published: 1995 Pages: 112
Genre: Graphic Novel
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Dream Country contains 4 disturbing stories: Calliope, A Dream of a Thousand Cats, A Midsummer-Night's Dream, and Facade. Plus, Gaiman has included his script for Calliope which gives us insight into Gaiman's writing process on this particular story.
Calliope was difficult for me to read. Artfully done and intriguing, the story features a young author who comes into possession of a muse (who used to date...is that the right word?...Dream) and uses her to become rich and famous. That is not the difficult part. The author rapes the muse. And not only do we read about it: "She's not even human, he told himself. She's thousands of years old. But her flesh was warm, and her breath was sweet, and she choked back tears like a child whenever he hurt her." But since this is a graphic novel, we also get to see it. Rape is so abhorrent to me that I dislike seeing it in books or films.
A Dream of a Thousand Cats freaked me out with its focus on the possibility of dreams. In it, a group of cats listen as one cat tells them about their power to change the world, to re-elevate cats over humans, through a mutual dream. I find cats terrifying; I find the images in this story stomach-clenching. The illustrators manage to create visuals of cats that are at once familiar and highly other. It may have been my favorite of the collection.
In A Midsummer Night's Dream, Titiana and Auberon arrive as guests of Dream to watch Shakespeare and Company present A Midsummer Night's Eve. I loved the layers of this story, the intricacy of a play about fairies being shown to the real fairies. And who doesn't love Puck?
Facade features Urania Blackwell, a lonely woman, altered by Ra, able to change her physicality but unable to fix her destroyed face. She uses masks to hide her disfigurement but is still primarily a solitary figure. Death reappears in this story, as an unexpected consolation.
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