Saturday, January 15, 2011

Fragile Things

Fragile ThingsFragile Things by Neil Gaiman

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

4.5 stars, really.

What a delightful collection of Gaiman's short stories! I was very impressed, liking this even better than I expected. It very nearly got a full 5-stars, but I honestly have a hard time giving that rating to a collection of short stories. They have to really 'wow' me for that. Most of the time the stories, being short, don't really capture the full suspension of belief that's required to become fully absorbed and lost. The more lost I get, the more big stars it'll get.

That said, this is still an excellent work. I had some hesitation, not to read it but certainly in prioritizing it, after I'd read Smoke and Mirrors a couple of years ago. I liked that collection, but it didn't grab me. Certainly not like I was grabbed by American Gods, Neverwhere, or the Preludes and Nocturnes (Sandman) series. But this one certainly did the trick and belongs in the Gaiman canon with those other heavy hitters.

The poetry and other short miscellanies within this book were interesting, and some of them actually made sense (unlike poetry in general which usually comes off to me as fluff). They added a nice interlude between the stories, the meat of the matter.

And those are what makes this a gem.

"Monarch of the Glen" is a novella which serves as a sequel to American Gods. Here we get to see a little bit of how Shadow is carrying on after the events of that novel. This was a nice teaser, making me want a new American Gods novel now. C'mon, Neil. Everybody wants you to write it.

"The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch" is wonderful. Sinister and mysterious and weird.

"The Problem of Susan" addresses some concerns with the Narnia series.

"A Study in Emerald" is just wicked and delightful.

"Goliath" is a nice surprise and very weirdly well done.

"October in the Chair" has wonderful characterization and keeps the reader on the edge of his/her chair.

"Bitter Grounds", "How to Talk to Girls at Parties", "Keepsakes and Treasures", and "Harlequin Valentine" were all favorites too. Though there really wasn't a bad one in the lot.

Yes, it's definitely time for a new American Gods novel, and another story collection while you're at it, Mr. Gaiman.

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