Neil Gaiman, with his unique style and beautiful prose, pleases readers yet again with the short story collection Fragile Things, eight years after the publication of his first collection. Gaiman’s fan base is enormous, causing some to refer to him as a “rock star” of the literary world, but even newcomers to his distinct style will find something they enjoy in this engaging collection of stories.
As with his first collection, Gaiman starts off in his introduction by explaining the origins of each story, which can either set the scene for what turns out to be a fascinating read, or add to the enjoyment of each story when read afterwards. There is also, as with his previous book, an extra story in the introduction for those who read it. “A Study in Emerald”, the first story in the collection, is a fascinating combination of two famous literary enterprises, Sherlock Holmes and H.P. Lovecraft. “The Fairy Reel” is a lovely poem and is, as Gaiman says in the introduction, quite fun to read aloud, rambling on easily. “October in the Chair” is a story within a story, a format Gaiman does wonders with every time he tries his hand; in this case, the story told is engaging and chilling, which the framing description of the twelve months sitting around a fire sharing stories is a fascinating idea on its own, with wonderful characterization for such brief descriptions. “Other People” is a chilling description of a painful afterlife. “Strange Little Girls” is twelve extremely short stories, written for Tori Amos’s CD Strange Little Girls, and each story is captivating even in its brevity. “Locks” is a touchingly realistic poem in the midst of a book of fantasy, about a father, a daughter, and a story handed down through the years. “The Problem of Susan” is a fascinating take on a literary classic, The Chronicles of Narnia, that takes a disturbing turn. “Instructions”, a poem that instructs the reader what to do in a fairy tale, is a fairy tale in its own right.”Pages From a Journal Found In a Shoebox Left In a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma and Louisville, Kentucky” is, once again, a story written for a Tori Amos CD, this time Scarlet’s Walk, and brings up interesting thoughts on identity. “The Day The Saucers Came” is yet another lovely and silly poem that’s fun to read aloud.
There are many more tales told in Fragile Things, all just as wonderful as the ones described above. Neil Gaiman has provided yet another beautiful contribution to literature, one of many he’s thankfully shared with the world, and hopefully one of many more to come.