Melody





ISBN-13: 9780060515225
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Published: September 2006
400pp



I have to admire Neil Gaiman's versatility not only because he is a great storyteller but the stories he writes are always so different from one another and best of all is, he is able to weave them all with style. After reading Coraline and Neverwhere and liking them, I decided to look out for his books but since I have not read any of his short stories, I figure Fragile Things will be a great start.

I like the way he described the title under the introduction:

As I write this now, it occurs to me that the peculiarity of most things we think of as fragile is how tough they truly are. There were tricks we did with eggs, as children, to show how very strong they really were, tiny load-bearing marble halls; while the beat of the wings of a butterfly in the right place, we are told, can create a hurricane across an ocean. Hearts may break, but hearts are the toughest of muscles able to pump for a lifetime, seventy times a minute, and scarcely falter along the way. Even dreams, the most delicate and intangible of things, can prove remarkably difficult to kill.

Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds' eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks."

So beautifully written in my opinion, and so meaningful.

Fragile Things not only consisted of various short stories, but a few poetry as well. His short stories featured various genres like dark fantasy, horror, sci-fi etc which I think is refreshing as I get to read different genres in this collection. There are twenty-seven stories in this book; and although I won't write my thoughts on each story, I will however write a few which are my favourites.

In A Study in Emerald, we see Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is caught in a mystery with detective Henry Camberley in the late 19th century, in a little H.P. Lovecraft horror style. This short story won the Hugo Award in August 2004 as Best Short Story. In October in the Chair, I liked how the story unfolds when each month has his or her own little story to tell; how light or how dark it is depending on the season where they belongs. This won the 2003 Locus Award for Best Short Story.

In The Flints of Memory Lane, the narrator believed some places to be haunted and avoided them as a child. He had none horror story to share, until he was fifteen and he met a woman dressed like a gypsy queen standing beneath a street-lamp, staring up at a house and how this lingered in his mind and became his personal ghost story. In Locks, it is believed that everyone owe it to each other to tell stories, not as father and daughter but as people simply. In this story, 'Goldilocks and the Three Bears' is shared and analysed in poetry-like style.

Feeders and Eaters is a creepy one. The narrator met Eddie, an old friend at an old cafe and wondered what had happened to his once good-looking friend when Eddie told him his encounter with an old woman and her strange looking cat. Goliath is a good sci-fi story, one which is thought provoking and sucks me in from the start although I am not a big fan of this genre. And Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Louisville, Kentucky led me to think how one will pursue something endlessly and cluelessly, like a vicious cycle, over and over again.

How to Talk to Girls at Parties is another good one which I think will appeal to many teenaged boys as it tells about two boys from an all-boys school and how they stumble into a party full of pretty girls but the fantasy ends there after they had found out what they are. And finally, there is The Monarch of the Glen, a novella of another Neil Gaiman's bestselling novel American Gods. I have yet to read this novel but I know I will get to it soon since I have listed this for one of the reading challenges.

Fragile Things is a fine collection of short stories and wonders. I am definitely looking forward to more in Smoke and Mirrors.

Other Bloggers' reviews:
Stephanie's Confessions of a Book-a-holic
16 Responses
  1. Thank you for your review, Melody! I am looking forward to reading this collection. Neil Gaiman is such a good writer.


  2. Melody Says:

    Wendy, I agree Neil Gaiman is a good writer. I hope you enjoy reading this as well. :)


  3. Iliana Says:

    One of these days I must read Neil Gaiman! I do have Coraline and Smoke & Mirrors in my stacks so maybe I'm hoping to pick those up for challenge reads. Anyway, great review Melody!


  4. Jaimie Says:

    I just got this book! Now I am really looking forward to reading it! Thanks for the review!


  5. Melody Says:

    Iliana - You must! I LOVE Coraline; a little creepy IMO but I had a great time reading it. :)

    Jaimie - I'm glad you've this as well! :) Can't wait to hear your thoughts.


  6. Alice Teh Says:

    I'm reading Coraline now and totally enjoying it. Hope to finish it tonight... :)

    Thanks for the review, Melody!


  7. Debi Says:

    Wonderful review, Melody! I've had this one on the never-ending pile for a while...you've really made me want to pick up right now!


  8. Nymeth Says:

    I'm glad you enjoy this one as much as I did :)


  9. Ladytink_534 Says:

    He does write beautifully, doesn't he?


  10. Rhinoa Says:

    I have read his other collection Smoke and Mirrors and hope to read this in the future. Thanks for the review :)


  11. Kristy Says:

    Great review Melody. I've got to read Gaiman!


  12. Melody Says:

    Alice - Great! Can't wait to read your review. :)

    Debi - Thanks! :) I'm hoping you'll read it soon.

    Nymeth - Yes, I really enjoyed reading this book. :D

    Jen - Oh yes, he does!!! :D

    Rhinoa - Hope you enjoy reading this. I can't wait to read Smoke and Mirrors.

    Kristy - Thank you. :) Yes, you should start reading his books now, hehe.


  13. Stephanie Says:

    I LOVED this book!! Fantastic!! I think the only one you didn't mention, that was truly one of my favorites was the Forbidden Brides story.

    I'm glad you liked this book!


  14. Melody Says:

    Stephanie - This book is GREAT, isn't it?! I'm looking forward to more!! :)


  15. Kim L Says:

    This sounds like a lot of fun!!! I loved American Gods, and Smoke and Mirrors. I hope you like them too. I will have to add this one to my list!


  16. Melody Says:

    Kim, I really enjoyed reading this. You bet I'm really looking forward to reading American Gods and Smoke and Mirrors. ;)