A Calendar of Tales by Neil Gaiman


"On February 4th 2013 Neil Gaiman embarked on a fantastic art project in partnership with Blackberry and millions of his fans. He tweeted twelve questions to the world, one for each month of the year. From the tens of thousands of responses he received, Neil picked his favorite answers and wrote twelve short stories inspired by them. Releasing these back to the world, Neil asked people to contribute art to illustrate the stories."

You know one of the age old questions that writers get asked? "What inspired you to make this story?" And I am always interested in the answer because really, we all have that need to know the origin, the beginning from which such a masterpiece sprung forth. With A Calender of Tales, the inspiration comes from the fans. He gave out 12 questions/prompts (one for each month of the year), the fans answered, he picked his favorites and wrote stories out of them, launched them to the world, then asked the fans to make illustrations for each of the 12. I thought this kind of set up would be impossible to pull off, but here you have it. And it's amazing because you get that feeling that the stories belong to the both of you. The writer and the reader.  

The stories are a mish mash of different feelings, and topics, and tone and mood. But all decidedly very Neil Gaiman. Others are light and funny, some are dark and strange,  introspective and whimsical. My favorites ended up being the ff:

@neilhimself asked: "What is the weirdest gift you've ever been given in May?" 
@StarlingV replied: "An anonymous mother's day gift. Think about that for a moment."

@StarlingV's response in itself made me chuckle. And then Neil Gaiman made a story out of it, that feels a bit twilight zone-y, in a way. It's like being in another dimension where things are slightly askew and a lot of unexplanable cooky stuff are happening, month after month. The story has no point really, you just have to revel in the funny business that's going on.

@neilhimself asked: "What is the most unusual thing you have ever seen inJuly?"
@mendozacarla replied: "...an igloo made of books."

Igloos in themselves, have always held some sort of magic to me. A house, made of ice, with a shape that does not in anyway resemble normal dwellings. And for it to be made of books, made it even more whimsical to me. Add in fish books, and polar bear books. And it's my kind of world. And I think that is what's great about this particular tale, the way Gaiman described the surroundings. The Northern Lights, the pinprick of stars, the ice floes of books. It's beautiful. And beneath that is a story of homecoming, a reunion of sorts.

@neilhimself asked: "If August could speak, what would it say?"
@gabiottasnest replied: "August would speak of its empire lasting forever whilst glancing, warily, at the leaves cooking on the trees."

This story grabbed my attention because it made me think of how it is with us, here in the Philippines, where calamities, specifically typhoons, come frequently. And usually people in at-risk areas, almost always don't evacuate until the very last minute. And that was what I thought of as I read the tale. Heck I do it too, in a different context. One almost always think that things can't happen to you. Sure they happen to other people. But not to you. Until it does.

@neilhimself asked: “What mythical creature would you like to meet in October? (& why?)”  
@elainelowe replied: “A djinn. Not to make a wish. But for the very best advice on how to be happy w/ what you already have.”

This one is on the lighter side. A lovely little romance story. But most importantly it tackles men's insatiable appetite of wanting things. But you come across rare one, who is content enough of what they have. And how could you not love that person?

@neilhimself asked: “Who would you like to see again in December?”   
@Geminitm replied: “My 18 yo-runaway-self so I can show her that I find someone to love & own a home of my own – it did get better.”

There is something scary and awesome about having a conversation with your future self. This has long been the stuff of movies. Here, a homeless teen sees a woman who seems lost and wanted to hit her up for some change. Only to find a person she somewhat knows but not really. And it's a great ending to the whole collection because it is a tale of hope.

Once again, Neil Gaiman pulls if off, not only in creating great shorts but in undertaking a collaborative project like this. The artwork from the fans are so beautiful too. Some are cute, some are dark, some are mesmerizing. They are as creative and diverse as Neil Gaiman's stories. 

Another one, I say.  


  1. Taking note of this, ASAP. Lovely review, Tin! :)

    1. Yes! You can finish this in one sitting, too. Thanks Lynai! :)

  2. Replies
    1. Hi Louize! You were right about this! It's a lovely collection. I enjoyed July and October too! :)


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