There’s really only 2 things of note about this book.
- Its written by Neil Gaiman
- Its read by Neil Gaiman
That’s really all you need to know to go out and pick up this book, in audio or text format. It’s no secret that I have a giant crush on Neil Gaiman and everything he’s written, produced or even glanced at. For the sake of propriety and consistency, I’ve also included what is probably a fairly biased review of the book below.
As noted in the title, Fragile Things is a collection of short stories and poems, most of which border on the edge of morbid, haunting, introspective and unsettling. The stories cover topics like life and death, perceptions and reality, heroes and villans, etc. The introduction of the book starts with Gaiman’s brief synopsis of each piece, explaining why and when it was written. He revisits Shadow from American Gods, wrote a short story for his daughter, and a few of the stories even overlap with certain characters. All of the stories have Gaiman’s trademark snarky sense of humor and his eloquent writing style, easily guiding the reader from horror to horror with a grace I have to yet to find in another author of similar genres.
This is another book that I actually own, the hardcopy is on my bookshelf. I picked up the audio because it’s narrated by Neil Gaiman. I could listen to him talk for hours. He has a very soothing, relaxed voice. His accents were on key for Fragile Things, and it was quite funny at times listening to him read certain sections.
Feeders and Eaters was perhaps the most dreadful story of the bunch. I think I shuddered for about a minute in my car thinking about poor Mr. Thompson the cat. Hidden in the introduction is the short story The Mapmaker, which was also an amazing tale and I hope people don’t skip the introduction, otherwise they’ll miss this story altogether. There was also another story, October in the Chair, that works as a precursor to the Graveyard Book. In that story, each character is one of the 12 months, and each month has to produce a story to share with the other 11. October’s story being that of a young boy and a graveyard. Another favorite story was Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dead Desire, about a author who finds writing realistic fiction so dreadful, especially when his reality is so bizarre and surreal. I love his take on science fiction in that story.
The only complaint that I have about the audio book is that with most of Gaiman’s books, I have to often go back and reread paragraphs or sentences to really digest the meaning and the references. It’s not easy to do that with an audio book. Some of the stories I did find a bit boring; The Problem of Susan being one and I really couldn’t get into Harlequinn Romance. I found Bitter Grounds to be somewhat confusing and convoluted about zombies and Haitian girls and coffee concoctions.
Fans of Neil Gaiman will love this book, and I hope these short snippets of his work will help convert the rest of the population. If you ever get a chance to see Neil Gaiman at a library, or bookstore event, I highly recommend that you go.