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Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders…
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Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders

by Neil Gaiman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
7,274188489 (3.97)258
  1. 110
    American Gods by Neil Gaiman (moonstormer)
    moonstormer: Fragile Things contains a short story with the same character as is in American Gods. Both are highly recommended.
  2. 30
    The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman (PghDragonMan)
  3. 41
    Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury (PghDragonMan)
    PghDragonMan: Not all circuses are for your amusement. Choose wisely which one to attend.
  4. 20
    Beowulf by Beowulf Poet (moonstormer)
    moonstormer: the short story in Fragile Things - Monarch of the Glen - is very related to Beowulf and could be seen as an interesting commentary.
  5. 20
    The Ladies of Grace Adieu and Other Stories by Susanna Clarke (Larkken)
    Larkken: The short stories contained in each anthology have a similar feel, and both, to some degree, play with traditional fairy tale themes. Clarke's novel benefits from reading her debut novel, as her collection is placed in the same world.
  6. 21
    The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis (sturlington)
    sturlington: One of Gaiman's stories speculates on what Susan did after the events in The Last Battle.
  7. 21
    We Never Talk About My Brother by Peter S. Beagle (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For, "Ah. My story. Are you certain you wish to hear it? It is long, unlikely, and remarkably unedifying -- shameful, even, to come from a minister's lips. Blasphemous, too, properly regarded."
  8. 10
    The Faery Reel: Tales from the Twilight Realm by Ellen Datlow (veracity)
  9. 10
    A Pack of Lies by Geraldine McCaughrean (fyrefly98)
  10. 00
    The Fate of Mice by Susan Palwick (MyriadBooks)
  11. 03
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel by Susanna Clarke (PghDragonMan)
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» See also 258 mentions

English (182)  French (2)  Vietnamese (1)  Danish (1)  German (1)  All (1)  Dutch (1)  All (189)
Showing 1-5 of 182 (next | show all)
I love Neil Gaiman, almost without exception. He is one of my favorite authors, and this collection of short fiction is, also almost without exception, flawless. Perhaps its’ greatest downfall is that it’s not as good as his previous short fiction collection, Smoke & Mirrors. There's more of Gaiman's (mostly) underwhelming poetry in this collection than there was in the last and there's also a couple of real life stories that fail to entertain. Those two facts, coupled with a short story that I couldn't even follow (Bitter Grounds), mar an otherwise stellar collection.

My Standouts, in the Order They Appear

A Study in Emerald
This is undoubtedly the most well-known story in the collection. For those of you who haven't heard of it, it's a retelling of the Sherlock Holmes story "A Study in Scarlet" but merged with H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu mythos. It won a Hugo award, and as a fan of both Holmes and Lovecraft I was doomed to love it. That being said however, I didn't think it was a great as some people seem to think it is, and I certainly don't think it was the best story in this collection. One of the best, surely, but not the best.

October in the Chair
This story is classic Gaiman. The twelves months sit around a fire telling stories. This story is also referenced in the poem Instructions, which I'll get to in a minute.

Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire
This is the story that made me put this book down for a long time before picking it back up again. It intimidated me. It's broken down into parts, and every other part is in bold print, and it just takes much longer than the average story to get a handle on what's happening. I'm not sure I really got it until close to the end. That said, it's become possibly my favorite story of the entire collection.
It's basically about a man whose life is a cheesy horror cliche. He lives in a big, creepy castle. He's possibly a vampire (can't remember). His brother wants to duel him to the death. Meanwhile this man is trying to write a great american-type novel. A "slice of life" novel as he calls it, but because his own life is a horror cliche that's all that comes out on the page, and it infuriates him to no end. I think this is a fantastic commentary on what a writer goes through when they try to write about things that are far outside their own experiences.

Other People
Gaiman admits in the foreword that he isn't sure if this story is original or not. That he feels it's similar to something he's heard or read somewhere before. I also admit that it has that uncanny feeling of familiarity, but since I can't place it (and neither could Gaiman's editor) I feel it's okay to give Gaiman credit for it.
This is a poignant and cyclical story about how demon's are made, and how sinners are punished for their sins when they go to hell. Great stuff.

The Problem of Susan
For those of you who have read all the Narnia books, you know what happens at the end, and how Susan is left behind. This story delves into what she might be like in her old age, and what she might be feeling. It's a great story, though I couldn't help but feel like the ending came and went and something that should have happened never did. I've no idea what that something is, I just know it didn't satisfy me as much as I feel like it should have.

Instructions
This is a poem, not a story. Typically I don't like Gaiman's poetry very much. I can't say if it's bad or good. I just know that, as someone who doesn't much care for poetry, I don't like most of his poetry, either. Honestly that probably means it's good. This is one of the exceptions though, and my absolute favorite poem by Gaiman. I love it so much that I bought the illustrated version.
This is a poem that pokes fun at fairy tale and fantasy tropes, and it does it very, very well, and it's just...beautiful. I don't know how else to explain it.

Goliath
This one is crazy, and weird, and I will never, ever read it again because it unsettled me, to say the least.
Basically this is Gaiman's version of The Matrix (Gaiman's editor asked him to write a story based on the script, before the movie came out). A man is genetically designed to have faster reaction times than normal, and is put in a computer to live out a lifetime at computer-processor speeds, all the while being impregnated with the information he needs to pilot a ship into space and deal with an alien threat that's going to wipe out humanity. You may wonder what could be so unsettling about that? Mainly it's the way this man's fake life flickers by in an instant--the un-realness of it all, and his reaction to it. Oh, and he gets left in his spaceship in the end with a couple hours of oxygen left and he starts to question if this is even reality, hoping it isn't, and that a woman he loved in the computer is real.

The Day the Saucers Came
Another poem. This one is about all the possible armageddon situations happening on the same day: Alien incursion, zombies, etc. It's pretty great.

Sunbird
This is possibly my favorite story in the collection, tied with "Forbidden Brides." It's about a club whose goal is to taste every creature on the planet, and keep a record of what it tasted like for future generations. The group gets restless, feeling as though they've "tasted everything" when a hint is dropped about a legendary sunbird, and they leave for Egypt to find it and taste it. What happens after they find it and eat it is, well...not what they expected, and let's leave it at that, shall we?

Of course there are more good stories in this collection than that. Most of the short stories are good, they just didn't stand out as much as these did, in my opinion. The only short stories I didn't like were Gaiman's real life tales, and the short story "Bitter Grounds" which is about...south american coffee zombies, I guess? It was hard to follow. Either that or I followed it, but didn't get what point it was trying to make. I'm hoping it just flew over my head and that I'll understand it on a second read-through, but there's always the possibility that it just wasn't very good.
( )
1 vote ForeverMasterless | Apr 23, 2017 |
This is one of the hardest books to review that I've come across. A few of these stories are really good, examples being October in the Chair and Sunbird. However, there are several that are just not very well thought out, and several that disturbed me enough to make me wonder if I want to read any more of Gaiman's work. If you believe that God is evil, then you will love The Problem of Susan. If you don't, then this story will seriously make you nauseous--it's one of the most truly perverted things I've ever come across. And if you don't want to know what's in the mind of a person with no scruples of any kind (little girls are his sexual preference, for instance), avoid Treasures and Momentos at all costs. However, if you are a Sherlockian, you will want to borrow this book and read A Study in Emerald--it puts a whole new twist on Doyle's classic story and has an ending you won't see coming!

Overall, I'd recommend checking this one out from a library or borrowing it from a friend--and then skipping most of the stories. If you are wondering if this will be appropriate for a child because of Gaiman's The Graveyard Book and Coraline--the answer is emphatically NO! Many of these stories are filled with explicit sex and foul language, as well as a sort of disrespectful attitude towards everything and everyone. After reading works like The Anansi Boys, which is so filled with positive messages and truly inspired, magical imagery, Fragile Things comes as quite a nasty shock.

( )
  aurelas | Dec 23, 2016 |
Wonderful. Neil Gaiman is a genius. ( )
  David.Manns | Nov 28, 2016 |
A bunch of short stories and poems which concludes with a novella. I don't tend to read a lot of short fiction but have been picking at this one for quite a while. For me it was quite a mixed bag so far as quality goes but you can't argue with the quantity as there are nearly 30 entries included in this collection.. There are also introductions to each piece located in a separate section at the beginning of the book. My favourites were Monarch of the Glen (the novella which features Shadow from American Gods), Sunbird (a club set on sampling all the world's gastronomic delights), Bitter Grounds (Ghost story with voodoo element), Keepsakes and Treasures (Introduces a couple of villains who also appear in the novella) and The Hidden Chamber (possibly the creepiest poem I've ever read). Most of the rest were at least enjoyable to a certain extent even if some were instantly forgettable. ( )
  AHS-Wolfy | Nov 4, 2016 |
Another Gaiman. I am slowly working my way through them all. I was over halfway through this book of short stories when I got the audio book and started over. There's something about the author reading his own words that makes them more meaningful. Plus, I'm a sucker for British male narrators.

Anyways, this collection is very diverse, with poems and funny ones and mystery ones and ones I'd never read before, and everything with that little (or huge) twist I've come to expect. There are some, like "The Problem of Susan" that I'm not very happy about, but I know they will stick with me as only the best sci-fi short stories can. You know that creepy way Bradbury or Twilight Zone stories come back to haunt you every time you hear about virtual reality or fly on an airplane? Only this one is about children's books. There are some, like the novella featuring Shadow, the main character from American Gods, that are just plain good stories. They hit all the right buttons and leave you with a feeling that something amazing just happened but you missed how the magic trick happened. If I ever have a long road trip, I'm putting this back in the queue for sure. ( )
  jlharmon | Nov 3, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 182 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (26 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Gaiman, Neilprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
佳織, 野沢翻訳secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Beest, Emmy vanTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
瑞人, 金原翻訳secondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gaiman, NeilNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Dedication
For Ray Bradbury and Harlan Ellison, and the late Robert Sheckley, masters of the craft
First words
"I think...that I would rather recollect a life mis-spent on fragile things than spent avoiding moral dept." The words turned up in a dream and I wrote them down upon waking, uncertain what they meant or to whom they applied.
Quotations
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Book description
Collects these stories
"A Study in Emerald"
"The Fairy Reel"
"October in the Chair"
"The Hidden Chamber"
"Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire"
"The Flints of Memory Lane"
"Closing Time"
"Going Wodwo"
"Bitter Grounds"
"Other People"
"Keepsakes and Treasures"
"Good Boys Deserve Favors"
"The Facts in the Case of the Disappearance of Miss Finch"
"Strange Little Girls"
"Harlequin Valentine"
"Locks"
"The Problem of Susan"
"Instructions"
"How Do You Think It Feels?"
"My Life"
"Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot"
"Feeders and Eaters"
"Diseasemaker's Croup"
"In the End"
"Goliath"
"Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Lousville, Kentucky"
"How to Talk to Girls at Parties"
"The Day the Saucers Came"
"Sunbird"
"Inventing Aladdin"
"The Monarch of the Glen"
Haiku summary

Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0060515228, Hardcover)

A mysterious circus terrifies an audience for one extraordinary performance before disappearing into the night, taking one of the spectators along with it . . .

In a novella set two years after the events of American Gods, Shadow pays a visit to an ancient Scottish mansion, and finds himself trapped in a game of murder and monsters . . .

In a Hugo Award-winning short story set in a strangely altered Victorian England, the great detective Sherlock Holmes must solve a most unsettling royal murder . . .

Two teenage boys crash a party and meet the girls of their dreams—and nightmares . . .

In a Locus Award-winning tale, the members of an excusive epicurean club lament that they've eaten everything that can be eaten, with the exception of a legendary, rare, and exceedingly dangerous Egyptian bird . . .

Such marvelous creations and more—including a short story set in the world of The Matrix, and others set in the worlds of gothic fiction and children's fiction—can be found in this extraordinary collection, which showcases Gaiman's storytelling brilliance as well as his terrifyingly entertaining dark sense of humor. By turns delightful, disturbing, and diverting, Fragile Things is a gift of literary enchantment from one of the most unique writers of our time.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:26 -0400)

(see all 6 descriptions)

A collection of more than twenty-five short fictional works follows a theme of the intersections between life and death, perception and reality, and darkness and light.

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