Sunday, August 24, 2008

Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman

I love Neil Gaiman's graphic novel series The Sandman (which, yes, was first a comic book), and I highly recommend Neverwhere, American Gods and Coraline, so when a friend offered to lend me Fragile Things, how could I say no?

I didn't realize that it was a short story collection, and even though I just finished another short story collection, I jumped in to this one. I even read the introduction (something I'm usually inclined to skip), which was charming and succinct--a little background about each of the included stories. If you read this, don't skip the intro.

I warmed to the stories slowly, not really getting into the book until "Bitter Grounds" on page 85 (possibly because of the story's quasi-academic scene). After that, I found the stories more readable and more likable, though they seemed to get more gruesome. Many of the first stories (and some of the later ones) were (slightly) altered retellings of favorite childhood ghost stories; those (mostly) didn't meet my expectations for something authored by Neil Gaiman.

There are a few stories for which I would recommend the book as a whole (the joy of short story collections: you can skip what you don't find yourself enjoying): "Bitter Grounds," "Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot," "Strange Little Girls," and "The Monarch of the Glen." (The last story is An American Gods novella.) But if it's between Fragile Things and one of the other Gaiman works listed in the beginning, go for the other one.

A few lines I found interesting (or funny):
  • I was beginning to wonder whether he had a right arm. Maybe the sleeve was empty. Not that it was any of my business. Nobody gets through life without losing a few things on the way.
  • There's no making her do anything. Not her. She's Mary Poppins.
  • I think the world will end in black-and-white, like an old movie.
  • We save our lives in such unlikely ways.


Anonymous said...

I don't know if you know this or not, but Neil Gaiman will be at the National Book Fair in Washington, DC next month. I haven't read any of his stuff yet, but if you like it, I'm sure that I will. :)

stu said...

I also liked this one, though not quite as much as the novels. Gaiman seems to need space to ramble off in odd directions before he really hits his stride. That said, his other short story collection 'Smoke and Mirrors' is also well worth reading, and I've just acquired a copy of a third 'M is for magic', which is aimed more at the young adult market.

Nymeth said...

yay, another Sandman fan! I'm sorry that you didn't enjoy Fragile Things as much as the rest of his work. I did, but I think I'm in the minority, as most fans prefer Smoke & Mirrors.

The Monarch of the Glen is great though, isn't it?

Daya said...

Fragile Things was definitely one of my least favorite books by Neil Gaiman. It was a good read, kept me entertained, but nowhere near my favorites--Neverwhere and Sandman.