Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Fragile Things

Fragile ThingsFragile Things by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A Neil Gaiman Feast... As if he had written it expressly for those who think they have no reason to read an anthology, author Neil Gaiman presents a smorgasbord of thirty-one very good reasons in Fragile Things. While this collection of short fiction cannot provide the same experience as feasting on one of his novels, it does allow a reader the time to savor and digest each delicate morsel before moving on to the next bite. What a delightful literary meal!

In Fragile Things, Gaiman serves up an erratically varied stew of short fiction, which, for some readers, may be somewhat unsettling. Perhaps foreseeing this possibility, the author has included an informative and entertaining introduction that is useful in appreciating the pieces presented thereafter. These tidbits, introductory background notes regarding each tale or bit of poetry, are helpful in the reader’s full understanding of the author’s work. It is within the introduction, also, that one discovers which pieces have been awarded critical recognition, such as Locus Award-winning “October in the Chair”, or Hugo Award-winning “A Study in Emerald”, the latter an unusual blending of H.P. Lovecraft and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. In predictably unpredictable Gaiman fashion, a thirty-second short piece, “The Mapmaker”, is found tucked neatly into the introduction.

The range of subject matter is wide, yet the voice throughout is unmistakably Gaiman: his stories contain an irrational plausibility that seems to stem from the ease with which he appears to write. To entertain his fans and to entice new readers, the author offers his readers appetizers such as a trip to hell in “Other People” and a brief foray into the world of filmdom’s “The Matrix” in the short story “Goliath”. Those who are familiar with Gaiman’s earlier work will revel in Gaiman’s tales and in the poems scattered between them. As an added incentive for his followers to remain faithful, the author closes the anthology with “The Monarch of the Glen”, a novella that revisits the world and main character made popular in his earlier, widely acclaimed novel, American Gods.

The poems and short stories nestled between the covers of Fragile Things afford glimpses of the author’s creativity; each view comes from a slightly different perspective, under varied shades of light and dark, and yet all are seen through the same prism—that fragile thing that is Neil Gaiman’s boundless imagination. This collection will become a welcome addition on the shelf of any Gaiman fan, and is an open invitation to the uninitiated. Welcome to the banquet. There’s a place at the head of the table just for you, dear reader.

Neil Gaiman's website may be found at http://www.neilgaiman.com/

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1 comment:

  1. Hear hear! I've been a huge fan of Gaiman's since reading Neverwhere and American Gods.
    Fragile Things is an excellent tasting menu of his work, and "The Monarch in the Glen" is just wonderful. So good to revisit Shadow and the American Gods world... like slipping into a warm slippers. :)


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