Jan 20, 2009

[Books] Fragile Things

Fragile ThingsShort story anthologies are always a bit tricky for me to finish. Unless they're all set in the universe (such as Magic: the Gathering's Rath and Storm anthology), I always find myself having a difficult time working through a collection since each story tends to be very different from the last. Plus on top of everything else, I'm the kind of reader that likes to invest a lot of myself into the story and so it takes me a little time to really get to appreciate the characters and get more involved in the tale. Short stories are built on a shorter time frame of an appreciation and thus the emotional investment isn't as significant for me.

So today I finally finished reading our copy of Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things and I definitely have to say that I enjoyed it a lot. Sure, the stories were set in very different environments and very unusual settings but then that's Gaiman for you and he certainly knows how to craft a compelling story. I had written about my love for Gaiman as a writer before and this book strongly reinforces that belief. He does things in a way few other authors can match with and degree of decent quality, hehe.

English writer Neil Gaiman. Taken at the 2007 ...Image via WikipediaWhat I like the most about Fragile Things is how Neil Gaiman takes the familiar and twists things around in new and interesting ways. He taps into that part of our social consciousness that ensures that the worlds of fan fiction (and even slash fiction) thrive. Let's face it - we become attached to characters from stories, books and movies and we often want to find out what happens to them after the end of the story. Our minds run off in various directions as we try to piece together what could have possibly happened and thus stories that try to answer that question will always have a market somewhere.

Some of my favorite stories from this collection center around that central concept. Take for example the very first story in the collection - A Study in Emerald, which was Gaiman's take at spinning a Sherlock Holmes tale with H.P. Lovecraft overtones. You'd think that it would be a stretch to do so but the resulting tale was gripping for fans of both authors, I would say. I'm trying not to biased here but I definitely liked how things came out - if only I could rework stories with such skill.

The Problem of Susan was another great story that managed to take Susan out of her highly Christian-Narnian context and give the character a lot more edge and a lot more meaning. The tale has its fair share of sadness - the again Gaiman thrives in the realms of the somber at times, but it does so in a manner which retains the dignity of the character.

And of course the real gem of the collection is the last story entitled The Monarch of the Glen, which takes us back to the world of Shadow as introduced in American Gods and somewhat continued in Anansi Boys. American Gods remains one of my favorite books and to venture back into that story world while still exploring a rather different side of things was refreshing and wonderfully interesting. A lot of authors tend to get stuck in ruts with their characters and end up repeating patterns over and over again since they don't know what else to do. Gaiman made sure to continue to explore the development of Shadow and present new aspects to his personality and thus the continued evolution of the character.

Of all of Neil Gaiman's short story anthologies, Fragile Things has officially become my favorite and it's definitey a book I'd stronly recommened to any fantasy fan or pretty much anyone who appreciates a good piece of fiction.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

No comments:

Post a Comment