Sunday, January 18, 2009

Thumbs down for Martin Millar's "The Good Fairies of New York"

Martin Millar's The Good Fairies of New York has all the elements of a good Neil Gaiman novel: mythical creatures with modern sensibilities (lesbian fairies who like punk rock), magical homeless people, a hot arty chick, and a fat loser who longs for the hot arty chick. Even Millar's writing style is similar to Gaiman's stripped down approach. Indeed, Gaiman authored the novel's introduction, which is mostly about how Gaiman received a copy of the book right after it came out, but delayed reading it for years because he feared it would be too similar to the book he was then working on (American Gods). Sounds promising, right? Well,

The "hot arty chick" is an unemployed serial shoplifter with a colostomy bag. Pretty much every mention of her includes a mention of the bag:

Kerry was joyful at this news, although not at much else. The judging was only a few days away and she was not feeling well enough to carry on. Her insides hurt and diarrhea flowed into her colostomy bag.
The hot arty chick's suitor isn't the type of timid, but basically well-meaning everyman common to Gaiman's novels. Rather, he's a fat, racist, homophobe who hurls abuse at everyone he encounters.

What do I care if those two manage to hook up?

The writing doesn't overcome the characters, either. The text is so stripped down that abrupt transitions pull you out of the flow of the book and force you to reread sentences to figure out what just happened. There's also a ridiculous amount of clumsy exposition. For example, here's our introduction to "Gail":
It was Gail, a friend of hers, about to read her poems. [p] "Oh dear," muttered Kerry. "Everybody is fed up with the heat and the crush and will not listen to Gail, even though she is a great poet."
Finally, the plot is textbook predictable.

I don't want to give the impression that the book is horrendous - - if you've already read all of Gaiman's novels, then you'll probably derive a decent amount of enjoyment from The Good Fairies of New York. After all, it does include punk rock-loving lesbian fairies. But overall, thumbs down. Amazon link.

While I'm talking reviews, here's a few quick ones:

-Big thumbs up for Dan Hipp's Gyakushu! Volume 1. I actually didn't care for it very much the first time I read it, possibly because I'm just not really used to the manga format. But I've read it about five more times since, and ordered more of his books. As I've noted, he's a terrific artist. Amazon link.

-Thumbs up for Scarlet Traces: The Great Game, by Ian Edington and D'Israeli. Similar in feel to Moore's League of Extraordinary Gentleman, it tells of a repressive British government sending troops to Mars in revenge for the attacks documented in War of the Worlds. Amazon link.

-Thumbs way down for every episode of Clone Wars that doesn't feature Jar Jar. Rolling, pacifist space raccoons lecturing Jedi about violence? No thanks.

*Previously: Big thumbs up for Graham Rawle's Woman's World.


  1. I think it's a lovely book and that Martin Millar is much underappreciated.

  2. I've got a manga title I think you'd dig: Tekkon Kinkreet.
    For an even-handed review of it, go here: