In an episode of Arthur
, one of the characters, Sue-Ellen, meets Neil Gaiman and embarks on creating her own graphic novel.* At the beginning of the clip, she says, “He writes novels and comics and movies and poetry—is there ANYTHING Neil Gaiman DOESN’T write?” (To which he replies, “Well, I never wrote a cookbook.” Bless.) That kind of sums up my attitude toward his work: He can write anything and does it well.Fragile Things
, in my opinion, is the better of the two short collections that I’ve read. There’s more of my favorite pieces in this collection rather than Smoke & Mirrors, as well as more of a diverse range of genres, from horror to humor to fantasy to the realistic.
I won’t go through every single piece in the collection, but here are the highlights. “Forbidden Brides…” is my hands-down favorite short story in this, a pastiche on gothic horror conventions and their utter ridiculousness. I have a lot fun reading it and seeing all of the jabs at classic gothic literature. Similar is “Sunbird,” although the story begins with more humor and leaves with a slightly darker turn at the end. “How to Talk to Girls at Parties” is another one that I feel sums up Gaiman’s work—light enough to be funny at parties, but with a creeping sense of darkness and horror. “Feeders and Eaters” is an outright horror story that does stay with me after I finished it. The only stories I’m not as fond of are “Pages from a Journal” and “The Problem with Susan.” I’m not familiar with Tori Amos’s The Scarlet Walk
, so I don’t get a lot of “Pages from a Journal.” And then there’s “Problem with Susan,” which on its own, is a good study of what happened to Narnia’s Susan years after The Last Battle
. And then we get to the flashback/dream sequences and my childhood sits in a corner, sobbing. (I’ll touch on “Monarch of the Glen” in my American Gods
This also has some of his better poems. I debated on purchasing the standalone edition of “Instructions,” since it’s just so beautifully written (and the accompanying illustrations of that book were wonderful). I also really enjoy reading “The Day the Saucers Came” and “Inventing Aladdin.”
This is a great little collection. I don’t really recommend it for most people starting with Neil Gaiman (unless if they’re looking for horror, then I push it), but it’s highly enjoyable and showcases the man’s many talents.
*Yes, I unashamedly watch children’s television.more