The Minotaur Takes a Cigarette Break: A Novel

  • by Steven Sherrill
  • Narrated by Holter Graham
  • 9 hrs and 4 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

Award-winning author, narrator, and screenwriter Neil Gaiman personally selected this book, and, using the tools of the Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX), cast the narrator and produced this work for his audiobook label, Neil Gaiman Presents.
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 Reviews

Most Helpful

The author is a professor of English

If you have suffered through many English literature classes in college, my headline says it all. Because the main character is the Minotaur, I guess this book technically qualifies as fantasy. But the handling of plot, character, action is totally from the literary genre rather than the fantasy or science fiction genre. Ask yourself which you preferred: Moby Dick or The Lord of the Rings? The Great Gatsby or The Wheel of Time? William Faulkner or George R. R. Martin? If you preferred the first in each of these choices, then you may actually like this book. If you are able to enjoy both the literary and the fantasy genre, then this book may be quite your cup of tea. But if you depended on Cliff Notes to get you through Moby Dick and all its literary brothers, then give this book a miss.

The editorial synopsis of this book says that the plot revolves around the Minotaur's love for an epileptic waitress. But the plot is a very thin thread amidst a great sea of vividly described scenes wherein nothing much happens and NOTHING has a conclusive ending.

I finished this book, and I don't usually finish books I don't like, so it had *something*. But I was irritated almost the entire time I was listening to it, and planning my scathing review throughout. Almost everyone in this book was little, mean, or unlikable. A few acts of futile kindness were scattered among a host of petty cruelties. There was instance after instance where some sort of action was called for--call the boss, call the police, call a taxi--where nobody did anything. And there was one truly appalling scene where two children are in considerable danger, their mother is nearby but ignorant of what is going on, and our "hero" goes for a car ride so he won't be there when the @#$% hits the fan.

There are a number of scenes with sexual overtones, and pretty much every one of them is unpleasant, bordering on disgusting, in some way. The main character comes across as being mentally retarded--really. He is good at a few things, so I guess he couldn't be, but if you like your protagonists to be brilliant, witty, brave, or effective, look elsewhere.

The book ends in the same limping, ineffective way of everything that went before it. I THINK the author thinks he wrote a happy ending, but I'm not sure. There was a brief epilogue that was supposed to inform us, I guess. But the images were disjointed and symbolic, and conveyed nothing much to me. I suppose if I'd been reading this story instead of listening to it, I could have gone back over the epilogue 15 or 20 times to figure out what it was meant to convey, but I don't think listening to it again would have helped much, and I don't care enough about this story to (heaven forbid!) spend more money to buy a printed copy. Or even to go to my local library and look for it.

As you may have deduced by now, I won't be recommending this book to all my friends. Nor do I recommend it to you.
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- ShySusan

Excellent Narration, Beautiful Prose, Poor Story

Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

Nay~ not time well-spent. I have to admit that the only reason I continued listening was because I paid for it and because the narrator was FANTASTIC. I also want to give credit where its due: Sherrill's prose, overall writing style, and wordsmithing are well honed. At times I truly enjoyed his sentence structure and descriptions... BUT~ this story didn't go anywhere. After 4 hours and 49 minutes, I had to stop. It's a dull story overall. I really don't understand where all the praise comes from. This will be the first audiobook I was unable to finish. I even made it through Amanda Ronconi's nasal-y, whiny, exaggerated Alaskan accent in How to flirt with a Naked Werewolf (not my usual book, but it was part of a girl's bookclub).

I cannot speak for the back half of the book, but the front half of it is a sad, and dull story of a minotaur living in an old backwards town, living in a trailer, going to his job (cook in a local restaurant), fixing his car, having the desire to speak but not ever doing it, and overall letting life wash over him as he craves human interaction that he can't quite have. It's depressing at best... At first I thought the book would have many more mythological references with fun modern twists (it didn't), and then I thought: well maybe it's a study on human interaction and what we take for granted in our social rituals (that didn't seem to develop). The I thought... hmm, perhaps the author is using this is a criticism on how poorly we treat outcasts or some such (nay, the reprimand never came). Then finally I decided: the author just wants to tell a sad tale, about a lonely, boring individual, with no real aspirations, phantom hopes, and an unstable life and background that kept him (and will keep him) on the road to more eternal nothingness. That's when I came back to Audible to find my next book. Goodbye


Would you ever listen to anything by Steven Sherrill again?

I don't think I will...


What does Holter Graham bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

This narrator does an excellent job with what could be a very monotonous story. His voices and grunts and tone were the highlight of those 4+ hours.


Any additional comments?

I was disappointed in this book. I wanted to love it because Neil Gaiman recommended it. I gave it 3 starts overall because the narrator deserves credit (and the author forges a good paragraph even if the story is boring).

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- Rosa F "Neko chan at heart =^.^="

Book Details

  • Release Date: 10-25-2011
  • Publisher: Neil Gaiman Presents