Neil Gaiman – Fragile Things
117. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman (2006)
Read by Neil Gaiman
Length: 10h 47m (400 pages)
Genre: Horror/Fantasy, Short Stories
Started: 21 November 2007
Finished: 01 December 2007
Summary: A collection of short stories, poems, and writings, ranging from very short to a longer (multi-chaptered) “novella” featuring Shadow, the narrator from American Gods. Most of them fall somewhere along the fantasy/ghost story/horror continuum, covering ghosts, vampires, aliens, and a wide variety of other creepy-crawlies, and drawing inspirations from Beowulf to C.S. Lewis to Sherlock Holmes to The Matrix.
Review: I had a pretty mixed reaction to this book, but on the whole, it came out pretty well. Some of the earlier stories were just plain unsatisfying – there wasn’t enough narrative arc, even for the short-story format, and several seemed like “Here’s this weird thing that happened. Weird, huh?” All of them were well-written and imaginative, its just that I prefer a little more story to my story. This was less of an issue as the book went on, and I really enjoyed most of the later stories (although it’s possible that this book has ruined The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe for me forever.) My only other problems with this book came from the audiobook format. Typically I like hearing an author read his own work, but in this case, since most of the stories are told in the first person and Gaiman reads them all with the same voice, it occasionally was a little difficult to keep them straight. Also, the book starts with a long section explaining the origin and inspiration for each story, which is fine when you have a paper book and can flip back and forth, but in the audiobook, would have been better served breaking it up instead of reading it all at once, since I didn’t remember the introduction by the time I actually got to the story in question. 3 1/2 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: The stories range in quality, but the less-good ones are also short enough to be over quickly, and the longer ones more than make it worth a read – although it’s probably better in print (vs. audio) form.