A few words from Neil on The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break: "When Steve and I talked about the ideal voice for M, he suggested Holter Graham….because 'Holter’s handling of the Minotaur’s grunt was PERFECT. Exactly what I heard in my head.'"
Five thousand years out of the Labyrinth, the Minotaur finds himself in the American South, living in a trailer park and working as a line cook at a steakhouse. No longer a devourer of human flesh, the Minotaur is a socially inept, lonely creature with very human needs. But over a two-week period, as his life dissolves into chaos, this broken and alienated immortal awakens to the possibility for happiness and to the capacity for love. "Sherrill also insinuates other mythological beasts - the Hermaphroditus, the Medusa - into the story, suggesting how the Southern landscape is shadowed by these myths. The plot centers around the Minotaur's feelings for Kelly, a waitress who is prone to epileptic fits. Does she reciprocate his affections? As the reader might expect, the course of interspecies love never does run smooth." (Publishers Weekly) Steven Sherrill created the artwork used for the audiobook edition of The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By sarahmoose2000 on 16-05-12
Strange but sad
This is a strange wee tale. The minotaur is still around, he has been for what seems like forever. People take advantage of him and are nasty in the way people are to those who are different. He just wants to carry on with his catering job, and perhaps get to know the waitress a bit better, but could she like someone like him?
1 of 1 people found this review helpful
By Paul Snook on 05-02-16
Taking the bull by the horns
An utterly compelling narrative about the everyday life of a 5000 year old mythological creature who lives in a trailer park in the deep south of America, works in a restaurant and fixes cars.
It's a novel in which not much actually happens but it is the attention to detail, the minutia of the minotaur's life that holds our attention and makes us care. Care so much that, as things grew to a crescendo and the minotaur's world fractures and threatens to split apart, I was almost afraid to continue lest it was indeed rent asunder.
Read with conviction and panache by Holter Graham, this audiobook is an absolute gem.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Ryan on 07-11-14
Even the monstrous among us...
The Minotaur in Steven Sherrill's novel is a being I can relate to. He has a hulking frame that tends to bump into things, is quiet and introspective, feels like a bit of an outsider in the ordinary human world, and doesn't always know the best way to verbalize his thoughts, so he often just says "mmmmm".
Unlike me, though, he's the very same creature from ancient myth. He's lived so long, his monstrous past has mostly worn away, leaving only a few dim memories. The same is true of his ability to provoke a reaction from the humans around him. To the denizens of the North Carolina trailer park where he now lives, or the greasy spoon restaurant where he works as a short order cook at, he's a slight oddity, but, really, no more so than the girl who suffers from epilepsy or the gay waiter who's also a Civil War reenactor. The Minotaur leads a fairly unremarkable life. He worries about losing his job, feels uncomfortable around dogs and electronics, likes to repair cars, and has trouble making long-term plans.
There's not much that "happens" in this novel, which has the feel of one those subdued indie films in which the characters carry out their normal lives in a way meant to show the profundity of everyday existence. Conventional urban fantasy, this is not. The writing is quite good at capturing the feel and character of the South, though, and I enjoyed the character study of the Minotaur, called "M" by others, who yearns for connection, or at least a place in the world, but doesn't know how to fit in. He becomes, variously, an observer of human nature, a sounding board for other people's feelings and worries, an object of antagonism, and a lover.
Of course, the story isn't really "about" the Minotaur, but about the way the primal permeates life, sometimes getting lost underneath it, sometimes boiling to the surface at odd moments. Add someone a little more primal than everyone else to small, backwater town, and the dynamic shifts subtly. I enjoyed the nuance with which Sherrill weaves in myth, religion, humor, absurdity, sexuality, the innocent directness of children, and human pathos (e.g. the death and subsequent "unburial" of Sweeney's dog).
Admittedly, this is a slow, languid cloudy day book (though everything comes together in a tense conclusion) and not everyone will enjoy it. I actually quit at several points to listen to other books, but found myself drawn back again. Some credit surely goes to audiobook narrator Holter Graham's excellent reading. He grasps the text well, gives different inflections to different characters, and injects the right notes into the Minotaur's many "hmmms" and "mmmms". He even does rather well with the "dialogue" from an overheard porn movie.
Another win from the Neil Gaiman Presents project, though this one more for tone and writing than storytelling.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
By Cathy on 09-11-11
Full of surprises, delightfully unexpected
I honestly can't remember the last time I was this surprised by such originality in storytelling. Bravo to Steven Sherrill for a tale that's both audaciously fanciful and very human (or half-human, I suppose). Delightful, bittersweet and utterly unexpected. I'm recommending this to my friends.
... Another outstanding performance by Holter Graham, one of the most listenable(?) readers in the world of audiobooks.
... Big thanks to Neil Gaiman for championing a fine work that might not have received the attention it deserves.
... And now I can't help but think about other legendary creatures from ancient literature. What are they up to these days?....
22 of 24 people found this review helpful