Thursday, December 14, 2006

Book: Fragile Things

by Neil Gaiman (2006).

A charming collection of short stories, some of which I'd read before. I very much plan on buying the paperback edition of this book, but when I saw it on the new book shelf at the library, I had to grab it. (I believe in the synchronicity of these things.)

Neil's work is special to me in that I have been reading him since I was 15--his voice is familiar, comfortable in some way. Comforting, maybe. Additionally, his devotion to his fans, his prolificness, his explanatory introduction giving some piece of the history of each story, and his wonderful online presence make him, and his work, feel very approachable. One of my favorite things in the world is that I once sent in a question asking for further elaboration on something he'd said in his blog about the Center for Puppetry Arts in Atlanta, and he actually responded. My question had no significance whatsoever, but I asked it, so he answered.

Some favorites from this collection:
  • "The Mapmaker"
  • "October in the Chair"
  • "Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire"
  • "Bitter Grounds"
  • "Strange Little Girls"
  • "Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma and Louisville, Kentucky"
  • "How to Talk to Girls at Parties"
  • "The Day the Saucers Came "
  • "Monarch of the Glen"

    This last was my absolute favorite, a novella occuring two years after the close of American Gods, featuring Shadow in remote Northern Scotland and a couple of characters from the story "Keepsakes and Treasures," which appears earlier in the collection. I read American Gods so long ago that I have this strange sense of not remembering much of the book. I've held onto some very basic plot points, but can't for the life of me remember exactly how it ends. I mention this because I was surprised how familiar Shadow felt to me when I started reading "Monarch of the Glen." I knew him; I knew how he was and how he might generally react to the events of the story. At the close of the story, which is the close of the book, I had the distinct sense that I had just wrapped up a conversation with an old friend. I really like that feeling.
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