Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders

Neil Gaiman
A mysterious circus terrifies an audience for one extraordinary performance before disappearing into the night . . . Two teenage boys crash a party and meet the girls of their dreams—and nightmares . . . In a Hugo Award–winning story, a great detective must solve a most unsettling royal murder in a strangely altered Victorian England . . . These marvelous creations and more showcase the unparalleled invention and storytelling brilliance—and the terrifyingly dark and entertaining wit—of the incomparable Neil Gaiman. By turns delightful, disturbing, and diverting, Fragile Things is a gift of literary enchantment from one of the most original writers of our time.


Reviewed: 2016-06-24
This is my second read-through of this book, and it was just as great, and oddly, just as surprising this time around as the last.

I don't know why it is, but I just have this image in my mind of Neil Gaiman as a proper author. I don't mean 'proper' to mean that he is officially an author (though he is), or that he does it correctly (though he does), but 'proper' in terms of vocabulary and ideas being more on the... non-vulgar side of things. I have this picture in my head, despite reading his books and stories and blog posts and comics, and having seen him live with his wife Amanda Palmer, who seems to revel in vulgarity at times... and none of these things support this idea I have of him. But still it persists.

And so when I read the stories in this book, they give me a little thrill, because I don't expect the vulgar and the so-very-adult-ness of some of these stories. Even though, by all accounts, I SHOULD.

I'm not easily shocked or offended, but I like that sometimes Neil's writing van cause that little thrill in me. It keeps me on my toes. Doesn't let me get too comfortable in Neil's work, because there's such a huge range of it that you never know which way he'll go next. And I like that. A lot.

I don't know if I want to talk about the stories individually, except to say that I don't think there's any that I actively dislike, though I'd have to say that Harlequin Valentine is probably my least favorite. But I do want to say that one thing I love about almost the entire collection is the interpretability of the stories. They all have layers that just work so beautifully together, and you can see them in the way that makes sense to you.

The stories aren't surprisingly good, because I expect everything Neil writes to be good, but they are surprising AND good. So many of these stories gave me an interesting perspective on something, and made me a part of the story for a little while. Really excellent short fiction pulls you into the story and doesn't want to let you go. You want to think about it, and examine it, and expand on it... and that's what this collection achieved.

This is a fantastic collection, and if you can get this on audio, I highly recommend it. Of course, Neil Gaiman could read a Chinese take-out menu and I'll fall all over myself gushing about how brilliantly he read it. So, you know, listen to it. You won't be sorry.
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