LitStack Rec: Instructions & Elsewhere

by Tee Tate
Instructions: Everything You’ll Need to Know on Your Journey
Neil Gaiman Illustrated by Charles VessInstructions

How do you write a recommendation for a book that probably has less words than this recommendation? That’s the dilemma I had once I decided to recommend Neil Gaiman’s poem-as-book, Instructions: Everything You’ll Need to Know on Your Journey. But then on second thought… I stopped worrying about it.

This slim volume (at less than three dozen pages) may not seem like much, but true to form for literary arch druid Gaiman, the story is ever so much bigger on the inside (inside the cover, that is). How Mr. Gaiman is able to take such simple words and string them together in such simple ways to put forward such simple ideas that nevertheless carry such deep, complex and universal significance is nothing more than magical.

Trust ghosts. Trust those that you have helped to help you in their turn.

Trust dreams.

Trust your heart, and trust your story.

Add in a delightful feast of illustrations by the incomparable Charles Vess – who as an artist is as much a master with his pen and ink as Mr. Gaiman is with his words – and you have perfection squared. The two go so very well together.

Instructions is a small story meant to be shared. This week I urge you to read it for yourself, then pass it on to your closest friends, and encourage them to pass it on to their closest friends, and so on and so on. Then all of us can stride forward confidently in all of our journeys.

—Sharon Browning

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