Reviews for Fragile Things : Short Fictions and Wonders

Booklist Reviews 2006 July #1
/*Starred Review*/ Like the first and second, Gaiman's third collection of unillustrated short pieces (he has comics collections in his portfolio, too) showcases a particular facet of his talent. Smoke and Mirrors (1998) effervesced with his jovial parody of fairy tales, Raymond Carver, monster movies, Beowulf, and even Bay Watch. Adventures in the Dream Trade (2002) collects various kinds of memoirs on being a professional fantasist. Parody--in the alternate-world Sherlock Holmes pastiche, "A Study in Emerald," and an imaginary last book of the Bible--and memoir (two reprints from Adventures and at least one story, "Closing Time," that Gaiman admits is full of real persons and events) also figure in this book, but most of the contents, including the memory pieces, exude the romanticism, often erotic, that makes his first two novels, Neverwhere (1997) and Stardust(1998), for all their darkness and grit, so powerfully attractive. Many are love stories, ranging in tone from the lowering super-noir of "Keepsakes and Treasures," in which a multibillionaire, abetted by the genius-sociopath narrator, finds and loses his particular beau ideal; to the sf-tinged horror of "How to Talk to Girls at Parties," in which two randy teens crash the wrong bash; to the love-conquers-all rapture of the poem "The Day the Saucers Came"; to the movingly sad triumph over time in the flat-out sf entry, "Goliath." Less loverly but lovelier are such archromantic tidbits as 15 tiny stories for cards from "a vampire tarot," the council of the personified months in "October in the Chair," the bittersweet shape-shifting of the commedia dell'arte-derived "Harlequin Valentine," and all the other poems. One delight after another, 31 in all, with a thirty-second tucked into the author's introduction. ((Reviewed July 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2006 July #2
Neo-Goth-Pulp-Noir has pretty much been trademarked by Gaiman (Anansi Boys, 2005, etc.), and these 31 jagged slices of life and the afterlife dependably deliver the damaged goods: zombies, dream-haunted kiddies, femmes fatale and fiends.Reprising his role from American Gods (2001) as ex-con, taciturn hunk, superhero and reincarnation of the Norse god Baldur, Shadow shakes things up in "The Monarch of the Glen," battling a primeval beastie and romancing a woodland nymph in the unlikely setting of a tycoon's get-together on the Scottish heath. "Good Boys Deserve Favours" highlights a lonely lad's moony passion for his double bass. "Strange Little Girls," penned to accompany a Tori Amos CD, catalogues the Eternal Feminine from showgirls to Holocaust victims to la belle dame sans merci. "October in the Chair" whimsically features the months as characters. "A Study in Emerald" offers smart, nifty homage to Conan Doyle. In "Harlequin Valentine," Missy the waitress chows down lovingly on the heart of the motley-clad acrobat of the commedia dell'arte, but even that grisly feast is rendered with swooning lyricism. Gaiman again proves himself a perverse romantic, heir not only to Poe and Baudelaire but to the breathless Pre-Raphaelites. (The poetry he includes here, for example, is generally less creepy than drippy.) He wears his pop cred in boldface, and street-smart hipness saturates these eerie epiphanies. But the collection also boasts lush prose, a lack of irony and a winning faith in the enchantment of stories.Expect the unexpected. Then savor the luscious chills. Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Library Journal Reviews 2006 June #2
An alternate Victorian England. Months of the Year sitting around chatting. These are some of the ideas firing the 25-plus stories in Gaiman's new collection. With a one-day laydown on September 26. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Library Journal Reviews 2006 September #1

This third collection of short fictions and wonder (after Smoke and Mirrors and Adventures in the Dream Trade ) from the author of Anansi Boys ranges from a tale of zombies to a series of meditations inspired by singer Tori Amos's album, Strange Little Girls . As in his other books, there are fantastical elements. Gaiman follows no overarching theme, but that is what makes these stories charming, at times creepy, and good fun. They read like dreams and meditations, with a stream-of-consciousness quality to their presentation. Gaiman also explains some of the inspiration behind the stories to help put them in perspective. Overall, well worth adding to any collection; highly recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/15/06.] Anastasia Diamond, Cleveland P.L.

[Page 140]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2006 July #3

Hot off the critical success of Anansi Boys , Gaiman offers this largely disappointing medley that feels like a collection of idea seeds that have yet to mature. Among the ground covered: an old woman eats her cat alive, slowly; two teenage boys fumble through a house party attended by preternaturally attractive aliens; a raven convinces a writer attempting realism to give way to fantastical inclinations. A few poems, heartfelt or playfully musical, pockmark the collection. At his best, Gaiman has a deft touch for surprise and inventiveness, and there are inspired moments, including one story that brings the months of the year to life and imagines them having a board meeting. (September is an "elegant creature of mock solicitude," while April is sensitive but cruel; they don't get along), but most of these stories rely too heavily on the stock-in-trade of horror, sci-fi and fantasy. Gaiman only once or twice gives himself the space necessary to lock the reader's attention.150,000 announced first printing.(Oct.)

[Page 131]. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

School Library Journal Reviews 2007 January

Adult/High School In this collection of stories (and a few poems), storytellers and the act of storytelling have prominent roles. The anthropomorphized months of the year swap tales at their annual board meeting: a half-eaten man recounts how he made the acquaintance of his beloved cannibal; and even Scheherazade, surely the greatest storyteller of all, receives a tribute with a poem. The stories are by turns horrifying and fanciful, often blending the two with a little sex, violence, and humor. An introduction offers the genesis of each selection, itself a stealthy way of initiating teens into the art of writing short stories, and to some of the important authors of the genre. Gaiman cites his influences, and readers may readily see the inflection of H. P. Lovecraft and Ray Bradbury in many of the tales. Horror and fantasy are forms of literature wrought with clichs, but Gaiman usually comes up with an interesting new angle. This collection is more poetic and more restrained than Stephen King's short stories and more expertly written than China Mieville's Looking for Jake (Ballantine, 2005). Gaiman skips along the edge of many adolescent fascinations-life, death, the living dead, and the occult-and teens with a taste for the weird will enjoy this book Emma Coleman, Berkeley Public Library, CA

[Page 164]. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.