I'm developing kind of a crush on Neil Gaiman. This is the third piece of his writing that I've read in a short period of time, and I loved it. Smoke and Mirrors is enjoyable for totally different reasons than American Gods or Anansi Boys, being that it is a collection of short stories. Consuming Gaiman in small bites is entertaining, funny, morbid, and sometimes hazardous to contented eating. (Consider this your warning before you start reading The Daughter of Owls or Only the End of the World Again).
Some of the stories are just plain entertaining, like Chivalry, a story about a woman who finds a grail in a second-hand shop, or The Price about a guardian cat. Other stories prattle on a bit without much of a point (The Goldfish Pond and Other Stories). I laughed out loud at Nicholas Was..., where we learn the truth about Santa Claus and his relationship with the infamous north pole elves.
I have a weakness for retellings of fairy tales, and so I loved his rewrite of Snow White Snow, Glass, Apples which reveals that Snow White was actually a blood-sucking vampire that the Queen had to kill in order to protect her kingdom. I also liked Troll Bridge, a sort of take on the Three Billy Goats Gruff.
There were a number of stories that had a more solid "message" behind them, like Babycakes (written for PETA, it speculates that once we run out of animals to eat, we'll turn to babies) or Foreign Parts (something long and boring about STDs), and they were, in my opinion, less entertaining.
A great feature about this book is the fact he wrote an extensive introduction explaining the backstories of each short story. You get a little peak into Gaiman's brain (the adjectives fun and disturbing both come to mind). Why don't all short story authors do this? It makes the reading experience even more enjoyable, learning what sorts of kooky things give authors their ideas. I've enjoyed my little jaunt into Gaiman-land, now I must leave it and venture into other new territories.