Six Impossible Things

A Blog About Fiction and Reading

Fragile Things

FragileFragile Things by Neil Gaiman


As far as I’m concerned, no discussion on modern English literature is complete without some talk about Neil Gaiman.  Even when he’s being silly, he manages somehow to apply a sense of importance to his work, and even when we think we’ve figured out exactly what it is he’s trying to tell us, he swoops in and surprises us with what’s been in front of us all the time.  I’m speaking, specifically, of “A Study in Emerald,” the opening story in Gaiman’s latest collection of short fiction, which is a masterful blend of the Sherlock Holmes and Cthulhu mythoses.  You’re sure to be surprised when you read it.

Like Connie Willis, Neil Gaiman can do no wrong for me.  He could publish a list of his favorite ailments and I’d probably read it and enjoy it (“Diseasemaker’s Croup”).  Barring that, he could pay homage to the best of the ouroborous-style stories that Tim Powers excels at writing, and I’d find it amusing and endearing (“Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma and Louisville, Kentucky”).  If that didn’t stir my interest, he might get to me with vignettes on the lives of vampires and make me wonder (“Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot”).  Shoot, he could even write a disturbing short story regarding children’s literature and unsettle me, and I’d still like it (“The Problem with Susan”).  Even when he’s mediocre (“Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire” or “Bitter Grounds”), he’s interesting, but it’s when he’s in his top form (“The Monarch of the Glen” and “October in the Chair”) that he reminds me how much joy fiction brings to me.

I can’t review Neil Gaiman’s work objectively.  All I can do is tell you to read it, and celebrate the joys of fiction.

November 18, 2006 Posted by | Adult Fiction, Reviews | 2 Comments


“Telling stories to my children that I was, in my turn, told by my parents and grandparents makes me feel part of something special and odd, part of the continuous stream of life itself.”

–Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things

November 18, 2006 Posted by | Quotes | Leave a comment