Review: The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break - Steven Sherrill

The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break by Steven Sherrill.
Narrated by Holter Graham.

The Minotaur, long the feared antagonist of Greek Legend, has moved on in life. Though he is mostly forgot by humans, he lives on, and he finds work where he can. On this particular cigarette break, Steven Sherrill finds the Minotaur, known to his friends and acquaintances as M, sitting outside Grub's Restaurant where he is working as a short-order cook and is doing alright for himself.

The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break is a slice-of-life work, sharing with us some two weeks of the Minotaur's life, just as things seem idyllic and then get turned on their head. The Minotaur hasn't been this low or this happy in a long time, and it's a sight to behold when Steven Sherrill lets us in on such a private life. The magic here is perfectly wrought, just when we think the Minotaur is the only being of his kind, there are hints at something more, things beyond what he knows or remembers, which fill out the world he lives in, making it as real as anything else.

It might surprise the reader to know that the Minotaur's tale is not cynical or ever sardonic, in fact, I'm not even sure the Minotaur knows how to be sarcastic. His tale is, ultimately one of hope. And if you get the feeling that you love yourself more after reading the Minotaur's Cigarette Break then that was the bonus side-effect of a charming novel. Steven Sherrill isn't a preacher or voyeur, he's a memoir-writer for fictional lives.

This Audiobook was a production of Neil Gaiman Presents, and as such Neil gives the introduction. He speaks briefly of his love for this novel, going further in depth about the book's narrator: Holter Graham. In researching, just a little, about this book, about the author and the narrator, I've found that many people like Holter Graham and I understand perfectly why. He's brave and uncanny, sliding from the Minotaur's epic and chaotic dreams to his narrow view of daily-life with ease and grace. He grunts for the Minotaur as though he himself had to communicate with little more than a few noises, and a single clobbered word at a time. He speaks all the Southern accents without mockery or pretense. I like Holter Graham very much, and would listen to another audiobook done by him. Indeed the quality of the production recommends to me more of the audiobooks in Neil Gaiman Presents.

I must say though, that without Steven Sherrill's poetic interludes and smooth prose, I'm sure something would have been lacking. There is an adventures quality to this tale, though it remains mostly linear, and the Minotaur doesn't really travel to any significant locations, it feels like an epic. For the Minotaur is changed, possibly more so than he has in millennia, and it's really touching to be a part of it. There's not much more to say about this book, but I hope you'll read it, I really do think any reader will enjoy it. For there is nothing exploitative, nothing extraneous, and even the graphic and possibly awkward sex scenes read well. For the fan of Greek Literature and the Magical Realism fan alike, as well as those who stick to gritty thrillers and true-crime, will enjoy this.

If you already have read it and have a comment, especially if you disagree with me, leave a comment! Otherwise, check it out from the library--I look forward to your thoughts.

256pp. John F. Blair. 1 May 2000.
(9h 4m. Neil Gaiman Presents. 25 Oct. 2011.)

Showcase Sunday #3

Showcase Sunday is a feature on Vicki's book blog, Books, Biscuits and Tea, which shows off the books which one has acquired in the past week, from any and all sources. Whether purchased online as an ebook or in hardback from a brick and mortar store, received for review or as a gift, it's just another way to make all your blogging acquaintances jelly.

I've calmed down a little since my hop across to Continental Europe, so less to report this time I'm afraid. Like this blog, this haul is a bit of a mixed bag. As if that surprises you...

Picture from
I forget what finally made me cave and get the first trilogy in The Mortal Instruments, but I'm half way through City of Bones and have very few complaints. (I think it was my friends enjoyment of these that made me pick them up.)

I've also decided to join the local english language book club, and my first read with them is The Assault, which is pretty famous in Europe, especially in Dutch countries. It sounds to be a good translation as well.


(Humans, Animals, Catastophes)
Loriot is possibly my favorite comic, having acted in and written some of the funniest things I have ever seen. This tiny little Reclam book is hilarious with great illustrations and fits perfectly in my purse. I fear its a limited thing for German speakers though, Loriot may fall flat well in translation. (Although the skit in which he scares the religious door-knockers out of his living room is probably international.)

I've been snapping up lots of these classic Doctor Who books and only brought one overseas with me. I haven't been able to sit still in front of my computer long enough to finish this serial so I'm just gonna read it! 

I have more Reclam books coming in the mail and I'll be checking out the library more extensively when I've got a smaller TBR pile--at the moment my only library book is about Tai Chi, I'm sure you'll want a review of that. (Don't worry I won't do that to you.) 

Be sure to let me know what you're reading in the comments, or link me to your Showcase Sunday post! I'll be putting up a review on Tuesday. Til then!