No words...should have sent a drum solo...
#1. Regular readers know my vast appreciation and admiration for Peter Gabriel's work. Keep that in mind that I say, wow, Mr. Gabriel comes across as rather awesomely un-self-aware about what he wrote. "This was 1974; it was pre-punk but I still thought we needed to base the story around a contemporary figure rather than a fantasy creation." and "Rael, the character around which 'The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway' revolves, was as far removed from fairyland as possible." and like that.
Um, right. We have a half-Puerto Rican guy with an English magical name, and a story that starts off with a magical-realist lamb, dives immediately into an extra-temporal realm, and...stays there, never returning from numinous liminal space at all. So, yeah. Pull the other one.
#2. As I read folks' effort to decipher Gabriel's story, I realized that they were missing something basic and that he apparently was missing the key word to explain. That word is "evocative".
Fans and critics spilled a lot of ink looking for a fixed set of symbols and allegorical references. They might use words like "surreal", but without remembering that surrealist and other reality-bending art doesn't have to map onto reality into a 1-to-1 one. They might have read Borges, but probably hadn't read Garcia Marquez and almost certainly hadn't read Eco. Nor had they read Gaiman, or even Bull.
The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway is a pretty typical urban fantasy. It's got some specific symbolism, a lot of use of mythology, and a fair amount of individualized evocation. It would have been stronger with either a hero more closely aligned to Gabriel's own internal life and therefore more strongly connected to the personal mythos, or with any explicit knowledge that he's been dropped into someone else's personal mythos. But it's not bad.
It just struck me how comfortably established the mental environment of urban fantasy has become in the last 30 years. Any work like this now would be grasped by its audience as an example of a sort of thing and then evaluated for what's distinctive about it within that context.
Makes you wonder what we're getting frustrated about now that'll seem just as obvious to the next generation.