four-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
26-Jan-Feb-2007
By: 
Neil Gaiman
user_rating: 
0

Short Fictions and Wonders

A-Fragile ThingsTwo teenage boys crash a party filled with alien women; Sherlock Holmes sleuths in an alternate world modeled after H. P. Lovecraft; the biblical story of Adam and Eve slithers to a much different conclusion; and the months of the year assemble in a yarn-spinning tribute to Ray Bradbury. There are poems, snippets of autobiography, and fiction that limn the borders of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. If there is a thread in Neil Gaiman’s latest collection, it is the author’s prodigious range of storytelling and its origin in "the realm of the deeply dark" (Baltimore Sun).
William Morrow. 400 pages. $26.95. ISBN: 0060515228

Rocky Mountain News 4.5 of 5 Stars
"The wide variety of selections shows Gaiman’s influences and his amazing range as one of the world’s most popular fantasy writers. Some stories are frightening; a couple are laugh-out-loud funny; some are downright strange." Mark Graham

USA Today 4.5 of 5 Stars
"Those looking for a nightly dose of delirium, delivered neat, can thank the gentle Englishman for stubbornly taking his craft wherever it could find an audience." David Colton

Baltimore Sun 4 of 5 Stars
"There is a commingling of styles and outré vignettes in Fragile Things that demands that the reader try yet another, then another, like alien canapés at a Trekkie party. These are gothic tales of high caliber." Victoria A. Brownworth

Seattle Times 4 of 5 Stars
"There’s not one piece of prose or poetry in Fragile Things that won’t repay re-reading." Nisi Shawl

Washington Post 4 of 5 Stars
"Gaiman writes in different registers: comedy, satire, pastiche, deadpan, lyrical or whimsical, but almost invariably dark. … One of the pleasures of Gaiman’s stories is how often they announce that ‘this is a true story’ or that ‘this happened to a friend,’ though the book’s introduction never confirms that any of these things actually happened." Graham Joyce

San Diego Union-Tribune 2.5 of 5 Stars
"The pages are heavy with Gaiman’s signature creepy mood-setters (fog, gargoyles that blink, the distant sound of dripping blood), but with little heft behind them. … Gaiman has fun playing with pop culture, fairy tales, and fables, and even when the stories dissolve too easily, a sense of mischief separates him from some of his cliché-addicted peers in the genre." Seth Taylor

Critical Summary

Along with his skill as a writer, Neil Gaiman must have some training in critical witchcraft. He has cast quite a spell on reviewers, who throw up their hands trying to categorize the stories in Fragile Things and then bring them together in an almost universal peal of applause. The collection is storytelling at its old-fashioned best, freshened up for the 21st century but drawing heavily on Gaiman’s progenitors. Only the San Diego Union-Tribune takes real issue with Gaiman, dubbing him "a bantamweight Poe" while acknowledging a talent that isn’t fully on display in this collection. Otherwise, it’s smooth sailing for the award-winning British writer.