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American Gods #1.1

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders

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“A prodigiously imaginative collection.”

New York Times Book Review, Editor’s Choice


“Dazzling tales from a master of the fantastic.”
Washington Post Book World


Fragile Things is a sterling collection of exceptional tales from Neil Gaiman, multiple award-winning (the Hugo, Bram Stoker, Newberry, and Eisner Awards, to name just a few), #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Graveyard Book, Anansi Boys, Coraline, and the groundbreaking Sandman graphic novel series. A uniquely imaginative creator of wonders whose unique storytelling genius has been acclaimed by a host of literary luminaries from Norman Mailer to Stephen King, Gaiman’s astonishing powers are on glorious displays in Fragile Things. Enter and be amazed!

359 pages, Paperback

First published September 25, 2006

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Neil Gaiman

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,459 reviews
Profile Image for Whitaker.
294 reviews509 followers
August 20, 2010
The two stars was a compromise. This book is a mixed bag of short stories and poems. In the Harry Potter books, there is a kind of sweet called Bertie Potts Every Flavour Jelly Beans. Sometimes you get something yummy like Raspberry Cream Chocolate or Honey Lemon Lime with a hint of Ginger or Vodka Tonic with Mentholated Cigarette Chaser. Other times you get Snot or Cat's Vomit. This book was like that. Unfortunately, this assortment contained more of the Warthog's Spyhillated Rectum or Seal Poop flavours than the Strawberry Champagne or Saffron and Sabayon Ice Cream types. Mr Gaiman, please stick to prose and avoid the poetry. And I do think it's unnecessarily mercenary to lump us with jottings of your drafts that didn't quite work. There are some gems here, but far far too few to justify a collection. Next time, could you wait till you have decent set before putting a collection out?

Profile Image for Sean Barrs .
1,119 reviews44.8k followers
August 9, 2018
Here’s what the introduction says about Fragile Things:

“It seemed like a fine title for a book of short stories. There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts.”

It all feels like a desperate attempt to release a collection of unrelated stories into the world. They are all very unique and individual with a title that could be applied to a number of different short story books instead of this one.

So the book that has been sold to us feels like a very different thing to the one I read. I enjoyed it, but I don’t think it quite embodies the model awkwardly proposed. I had very similar feelings when I read Gaiman’s more recent collection Trigger Warning. The stories were quite good, but very few had anything to do with the idea of a “trigger” that sets the story in motion and reveals the horror lurking in wait. They were just stories.

And Gaiman’s stories are full of possibilities. They are all so random and based upon chance encounters, and that’s what drives them forward: I just didn’t know what to expect from story to story. A man can walk into a diner and bump into a man he hasn’t seen for ten years who has a very dark and twisted tale to share. A boy can walk down the street and see a ghost in the lamplight or another can wake up and find himself in hell. There’s just no filter to the possibilities. They can go anywhere and be anything

So in terms of entertainment value (and the ability to keep things fresh and interesting across pieces) this scores very highly. No two stories are the same and none really follow a particular pattern or system. The idea of grouping them under a title seems a little absurd. A few of them, though, did feel like they belonged in the same world as American Gods. I wouldn’t be entirely surprised if he wrote some of them at the same time as working on his magnum-opus; there are certainly parallels.

As with all short story collections (especially inconsistent ones) there are good stories and then there are bad stories often involved. With this some stories remain open and then there are some that are weird to the point of being nonsensical. This is very much a mixed bag. I really enjoyed a few then there were others that just left me feeling confused as the story didn’t seem to do anything.

I think Gaiman is a much better novel (and graphic novel) writer than he is a short story writer. This is worth reading if you’re already a big fan of his, but if you’re looking for really a decent collection of short stories I can think of much better places to look.
Profile Image for s.penkevich.
964 reviews6,812 followers
January 30, 2012
’We owe it to each other to tell stories’
For years I’ve heard the name Neil Gaiman passed about, weighted with heavy praise, and have always promised myself to read him. Earlier this fall, after hearing him speak on NPR, I sat down with a copy of Coraline, and hungrily read it in one sitting. Despite the novel being intended for an audience much greener than I, I couldn’t help but be hypnotized by the charismatic voice and magical delivery and I renewed my promise to return to this author as soon as possible. More recently, although I was happily buried in a pile of Christmas reading, I purchased his second collection of short fictions, Fragile Things, to revisit this infectious voice and break away from heavier reading into his eerie landscapes. Simply put, this collection was some of the most fun I’ve had in a long time. Filled with many of his Locus award winners, and his Hugo winner, this collection brings many of Gaiman’s works, most of them scattered about in various anthologies, together in one binding. All of the signature excellence with which Gaiman has rightly built his widespread fan-base is present to prove that he is equally wonderful with his short game as he is in novel form and to tell stories which will send shivers down the spines of readers of all ages.

There is a vigorous charm about the writing. He lures the reader with lush, simple sentences, which are easy on the eyes, but commanding none-the-less. Once he has drawn you in, cozying up with the reader with a bit of background, the efficacious flow of his phrasing pulls the reader along through the lucid visions of his spectral creations at high speeds in an experience more akin to a thrill ride than just typeface on a page. While Gaiman’s writing isn’t extravagant, the sleek simplicity of it makes it effective to captivate the minds of both the young and old alike. I especially enjoyed Gaiman’s way of affecting a sense of a ‘story within a story’ where he puts near equal emphasis in the context in which the story is told as in the actual tale much like Henry James does in The Turn of the Screw, or Nikolai Gogol does to exemplify the oral tradition of storytelling. This technique is most uniquely present in October in the Chair, which earned the 2003 Locus award for Best Short Story, where the 12 months, each personified in a comical fashion, are seated around a campfire and listen to October tell a chilling tale about a young runaway and his nighttime engagements with the ghost of a dead boy. This helps highlight Gaiman’s pervasive idea of the power stories hold while also allowing him to bring the reader into the story at a safe distance before shocking them. This also allows the author to add a touch of autobiography, as is the case in Closing Time, where he admits that more of the story is ripped from reality than he would like to admit.

These stories are just a flat out good time. From aliens to ghost and vampires, Sherlock Holmes and even into the Matrix, these stories will delight and frighten, which brought to mind my childhood of hiding beneath the sheets reading Steven King’s short stories far past bedtime. There is a compelling wit and humor to these tales, many of which reside just on the outskirts of any sense of conclusion, using the classic horror device of allowing the imagination to run wild and fill in the cracks. In stories such as Feeders and Eaters, we never learn the grisly details of exactly why the man has fallen in on himself, but there is enough horrific background to allow for creativity to connect the last few dots. Sometimes the ‘unsaid’ can be mightier than the ‘said’, and the emotion of fear overrides the physical object of terror. Gaiman is also a master at the twist, such as the Hugo winning A Study in Emerald, his Sherlock Holmes A Study in Scarlet inspired tale, which he mixed with a shot of H.P. Lovecraft. As the reader reaches the conclusion they will notice, if they are versed in Holmes lore a bit, an alternate reality that goes beyond the sci-fi elements. The most staggering twist is contained in the very short yet very disturbing Other People, which I would label one of the ‘must reads’ of this collection. A few other points of interest are the short pieces written to accompany a Tori Amos tour book that each reflect a personality from various songs, and a novella dealing with Shadow, the lead character fro Gaiman's American Gods.

While many of these stories are first rate, this collection does fall into a few pitfalls that comes with the territory of simply rounding up anthologized stories, as there is a sense of unevenness and a fair share of filler. Some of the prose poems also seem to be placed in here just because and do not have the same impact as many of his stories, however Gaiman admits in the introduction that he originally did not intend for any of the poetry to be included. That said, Instructions, a poem that illustrates the clichés of fairytales in the manner of laying out ground-rules for what to do should one find themselves in a fairytale, is highly creative and one of my favorite pieces here. There are a few others that bring about a smile, although the stories are the real meat of the collection. A few of the stories can be shrugged off as well, but do not be discouraged as there is an abundance of juicy tales. The introduction itself is just as enjoyable as the rest of the stories; the readers get a glimpse into the author’s creative process as he describes some behind the scenes tidbits of each story. It is always fascinating for me to experience the author beyond the romanticized perception of an author, and here you can see Gaiman as the human being, writing stories in hotels rooms, airports, or in his living room as his children run about. He puts the stories into the context of his own life, which makes them seem all the more personal.

Storytelling is of major importance to Neil Gaiman. In a recent NPR interview with Gaiman, he stated that his enjoyment in writing children’s fiction stems from a belief that it is the most influential. This is apparent in The Problem of Susan when Greta says that her interest in children’s fiction is because ’they seemed the books that were most important to me. The ones that mattered.’. Gaiman stated that the books we read in our childhood always reside in our hearts and help shape who we are, and also enjoying fiction at a young age helps ensure we continue to pursue literature throughout our lives. He said that Coraline is one of his favorites since many people come to him with stories of how when they were younger and faced with problems, they would remember how brave Coraline was and attempt to emulate this. He said that he began writing children’s fiction after a visit to the library in search of scary stories aimed at 5 year olds, his daughters age at the time, brought only concerned looks and no books. He set out to rectify this, and the world of books is a better place for it. The Problem of Susan briefly discusses a history of children’s fiction, moving from books where children were just miniature adults to ones that are more ‘pure’ and ‘sanctimonious’, and dealt with issues that befall children in the way they perceive and react to them. He shows how that pure, innocent period of growth is essential before they reach the pornography and violence that befalls adulthood. His method of doing so envisions a very different view of the Lion and White Witch from The Chronicles of Narnia, one that won’t soon be forgotten. The poem Locks is another place where Gaiman stresses the beauty of childhood innocence in stories, and the function of storytelling being passed through generations. The importance of storytelling is also a major theme in The Invention of Aladdin, where stories can be a tool in protecting ones own life.

Fragile Things is an excellent choice for all readers. It will shock, terrify and even make you laugh across a broad range of stories and poems. I am very glad I picked this up and I will certainly be returning to the twisted mind of Neil Gaiman very soon, I suggest you do as well. He seems to be always eager to tell a story and this is probably the closest thing to climbing up on his knee and hearing him recite one of his magical tales. I hope he has a big enough knee for all of us.
Profile Image for Calista.
4,063 reviews31.3k followers
April 29, 2020
Many of these stories have been released as their own story and I have read them already. October in the Chair has been in 2 other collections so it’s a good thing that is one of my favorite stories.

The main story in this collection is ‘Monarch of the Glen’ and it is a novella that is part of the American Gods story and I heart that story. It was nice to be back in that story. I still need to see the show.

There were 2 poems and many great short stories in here. I think this is his best collection of stories I’ve read so far. I think I have read them all so far.

I love the Sherlock Holmes retelling. That was great to go back for a new twisted story out of what Sherlock would have ever seen. This is his best collection.

The stories include:

"The Mapmaker”; "A Study in Emerald" – a Sherlock Holmes/Cthulhu Mythos; "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: A Love Story”; "Good Boys Deserve Favors" ; ”The Facts in the Case of the Departure 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 Louisville, Kentucky”; "How to Talk to Girls at Parties”; "The Day the Saucers Came”; “Sunbird”; "Inventing Aladdin"; The Monarch of the Glen.

Neil hasn’t been putting out a whole lot of work lately. I wonder what he is working on. Maybe he’s simply living his life.
Profile Image for Monique.
504 reviews
August 6, 2011
I love Neil Gaiman. He is brilliant, imaginative, and abso-friggin-lutely weird, and I love him for it. And this book of short stories and prose, Fragile Things , is by far my most favorite compendium of his.

Fragile Things is a collection of oddities, retellings, poetry, spin-offs, and queer creations of Neil Gaiman's colorful imagination. Some of the stories have been published elsewhere, like Sunbird and October In The Chair , which were included in his M Is For Magic compilation, and some were published in other authors' works, written specially by Neil Gaiman, upon their request. A series of very short stories was inspired by an album of one of my favorite female indie artists, Tori Amos, who is good friends with Gaiman. There were award-winning stories here, too, such as A Study In Emerald which won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story and Sunbird, which received for its author the Locus Award.

The book also included, at the very last part, a novella published two years after American Gods came out, entitled Monarch of the Glen . In the novella, the main character from American Gods, Shadow, finds himself lured into a game with monsters. I had my doubts at first on whether I should read it, considering I have yet to read American Gods and might inadvertently run into spoilers, but threw caution into the wind, anyway. The novella, as it would turn out, would have an entirely separate and distinct plot from American Gods. (I asked my husband, who has read it, okay.)

I had a difficult time picking a favorite story from Fragile Things, because I loved everything! But I finally whittled it down to five: Harlequin Valentine , a short story based on the Harlequinade pantomime; The Flints of Memory Lane , which gave me the creeps; Other People , because it gave me more of the creeps and some goosebumps, too; Feeders and Eaters , for the sheer weirdness and horror of it, and; The Problem of Susan , which retells, if you will, the story of Susan Pevensie of The Chronicles of Narnia after the series had concluded. If you've read the series, you'll remember that Susan was no longer included in the last books, as she had taken to fancy things and such, and was no longer “fit” to return to Narnia.

On the other hand, I couldn't think of any short story or poem that I didn't like. The short story written specially for The Matrix , which Neil completed prior to the screening of the very first Matrix film, was, of course, a bit predictable, as it was made to cater to the plot of the film. Apart from that, however, it was still an interesting read, and I enjoyed that one nonetheless.

If I were to use the word ”unputdownable” to describe a book, this is the one. No one in the world, I think, has a more vivid and odd imagination like Neil does. Plus, he writes just beautifully: simple words, straightforward language, languid construction. He is the best storyteller there is, period. And I am just itching to read more of his works!

Thanks, TINTIN, for my copy! :)

Review also posted here.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
May 18, 2019
Finished!! And it only took me, well, 3 months to make my way through this collection of Neil Gaiman fantasy stories.

3.5 stars. There are some great stories here, but also some really offbeat and quirky ones, and some that I found totally forgettable, as in, I went back and looked at them after I finished this book, a couple of months after I'd read them, and didn't remember much of the plot at all.

Also, Gaiman is so brilliant and creative but he's also sometimes gruesome and occasionally really off-putting. Sexual predators, pedophiles, murderers and people without conscience haunt a lot of these stories.

Full review to come.

I receive a free review copy of this book from the publisher, William Morrow/HarperCollins. Thank you!
Profile Image for carol..
1,566 reviews8,214 followers
March 22, 2012
Unfortunately, I picked up The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making in the middle of reading this collection, and it threw Gaiman's shortcomings and my reactions into sharp relief. Gaiman's clever, no doubt. But this is a mostly almost-horror collection of short story ideas rendered in a not particularly clever way, and I often had the feeling I was reading bits and pieces of autobiography tucked into larger tales. Luckily, a pleasant side effect was a coveted spot on Richard's RaR-TaG's list (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/...).

In the spirit of mild self-immolation, I plowed my way through in bits and pieces over perhaps two weeks--okay, now it's more like four--never able to take more than a story or two at a time. Here's what I think: Gaiman is successful because he is popular and slightly pushes boundaries in a currently fashionable, ie. noir way. Occasionally he does lovely things with words and had fabulous ideas, and I hear he's a very nice guy. However, for me, his writing is very uneven, and feels like it would benefit from longer incubation, and perhaps closer affinity with whatever genre he prefers. I'm not a horror fan, but so many of his short stories seem to delight in twists, and I'm not just referring to the surprise ending.

'A Study in Emerald' is perhaps one of the most enjoyable stories, a riff on Sherlock Holmes solving a crime for the alien royalty, told in traditional Doyle style. 'October in the Chair' has an interesting concept at it's base and ends up being a story within a story, the source of The Graveyard Book. The inner story was enjoyable, but the outer felt unfinished, although I enjoyed the personification of the months. 'The Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves...' was a little bit amusing, but seems a tad overwrought and overthought. It has a facetious angle that benefits from a reader's knowledge of literature. 'The Flints of Memory Lane' is a germ of an idea that would benefit from grafting into a larger tale. I do like the line, "I like things to be story-shaped." Perhaps it should have been merged into 'Closing Time,' another story embedded within a story as patrons at a private club share ghost stories.

'Bitter Grounds' is a traveler looking for another life, and finds one as an anthropologist who studies zombies. It was a kind of 'meh' story, and felt like it was trying hard to be portentous and scary, but wasn't. I like the first paragraph and the phrase, "In every way that counted, I was dead"--a fantastic opening line. 'Other People' is a short-short I'm sure I've read before, perhaps in a mythology book; the idea feels like a chance to explore the concept of pain and hell more than anything else. 'Keepsakes and Treasures' has nothing worth keeping, and is twisted and unpleasant on a number of levels. The plot surrounds the development of a murderer as he finds employment under an obscenely wealthy man, Mr. Alice. It's one of the stories where none of the characters are likeable or redeemable. 'Good Boys Deserve Favors' (title taken from a mnenonic for learning music) is an ode to a bass that I presume the author played as a young boy, and is a little too short to feel quite as mystical as it wants to be.

'The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch' reminds me far too much of The Night Circus, and not in a way that benefits the short story. Unfortunately, it is a dark and twisted circus, and even the dreams have sharp edges. 'Strange Little Girls' would benefit from being read while listening to Tori Amos, but frankly, I'd rather not. I happen to own more than one Tori album, but she can get haunting and mournful quite fast, and I'd rather not spend the rest of the day depressed. 'Harlequin Valentine' was one of the few I rather enjoyed, an unexpected metamorphosis coming to a stalking puppet. 'The Problem of Susan' is better left unread if one wants to have any positive re-reads of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe; although I found the Susan story an interesting idea, Gaiman manages to twist it up with a kinky sexual element that benefits no one.

'How Do You Think it Feels?' is a modern adultery tale. Very little seems special to me about it, and the angle of haunting is... meh. Not scary, not really thought provoking, not really interesting. 'Fifteen Painted Cards...from a Tarot' remains me in a painful way of a story idea I once had in college. Thankfully, it never escaped past my best friend; if only the same had happened here. 'Feeders and Eaters' was actually horrific, in a 'Tell-Tale Heart' kind of way. 'Diseasemaker's Croup' was mildly interesting, but not a fitting read for a hypocondriac, and 'Goliath' just missed me entirely. 'Pages from a Journal' was a bit of a yawn. 'How to Talk to Girls' had an interesting kernel of an idea, and a nice turn of phrase or three, especially when the narrator meets a girl who introduces herself as a poem. 'Sunbird' was an interesting twist on the firebird and the Epicurean adventurers, but I thought it dragged on a little too long. Again, I had the oddest feeling I had read the characters' dialogue before. It felt a little Zelazny, spare and self-consciously oblique.

For me, by far the most enjoyable was 'Monarch of the Glen,' in which the American Gods's character, Shadow, is visiting Scotland. Two characters from an earlier short make an appearance here, and it is Mr. Alice and Mr. Smith. I enjoyed the way local mythology got weaved in on a number of different levels.

Scattered through the book are a number of poems, all of which I am completely not qualified to give an opinion on, and none of which really spoke to me.

Mission of browsing a Gaiman body of work accomplished, and self-flagellation accomplished for the week. Hurrah!
Profile Image for Jason Koivu.
Author 7 books1,255 followers
October 4, 2012
It seems wrong and somewhat sad that my favorite Gaiman book is not one of his many heralded novels, but a collection of short stories. Mind you, Fragile Things is a great collection of short stories!

Some of the content herein is much more "adult" than a good deal of his other work, which can tend towards the childlike and fanciful. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy the fantastical stuff with its focus on the magic of youth and mystery of the unknown. But I think I prefer his short story work because it seems more well-crafted and honed to a higher perfection than some of his full length novels, which feel a bit loose at times.

In summation, here is my newspaper book review title for this: "Gaiman's Fragile Things Is Strong Stuff"....*shakes head*....horrible...horrible.
Profile Image for Tadiana ✩Night Owl☽.
1,880 reviews22.8k followers
Want to read
June 14, 2018
Look at the surprise that just landed on my doorstep! :D :D Apparently this is a new "movie tie-in" edition for How to Talk to Girls at Parties. It also includes some 30 other short stories and poems by Neil Gaiman.

From Gaiman's Introduction:
"I think ... that I would rather recollect a life mis-spent on fragile things than spent avoiding moral debt." The words turned up in a dream and I wrote them down upon waking, uncertain what they meant or to whom they applied. ... It seemed like a fine title for a book of short stories. There are so many fragile things, after all. People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts.
Profile Image for Florencia.
649 reviews1,940 followers
January 27, 2018
“You can't do this to me, Neil. The boy went inside the farmhouse and... AND? What the hell, May? For god's sake, what kind of answer is that? Leave the Month finish the story, you...”

That's how much I liked this book. It made me a bit violent. I found myself speaking to the characters (talking alone to some pages, from a sane person's point of view). I didn't like all the short stories, for example, “How do you think it feels?”, “Keepsakes and Treasures”, “The problem with Susan”––; but the entire collection has a unique Gaiman style. A funny, weird, original, heartbreaking, twisted, magical, dark and insightful style that leaves you wanting more. He seems to be the kind of writer that can save an average story with just an amazing line that describes the way you might be feeling at that time. And that line starts repeating itself in your head.
I admire a person who can say so many things, that can share complex thoughts and mixed emotions with simple words:
I may be grim, perhaps, but only just as grim
as any man who suffered such affairs. Misfortune,
carelessness or pain, what matters is the loss. You’ll see
the heartbreak linger in my eyes, and dream
of making me forget what came before you walked
into the hallway of this house.


In every way that counted, I was dead. Inside somewhere maybe I was screaming and weeping and howling like an animal, but that was another person deep inside, another person who had no access to the lips and face and mouth and head, so on the surface I just shrugged and smile and kept moving. If I could have physically passed away, just let it all go, like that, without doing anything, stepped out of life as easily as walking through a door I would have done. But I was going to sleep at night and waking in the morning, disappointed to be there and resigned to existence.

I may not like the whole poem or story, but I take some beautiful lines with me, and that's all I seem to need. Unless we are talking about stories/poems like "A Study in Emerald", "October in the Chair", "The Flints of Memory Lane", "Instructions" or "Other People". Those are really good.

I have to say I don't enjoy horror stories. But his “horror” is like, um, like a delicate, philosophical horror. Almost sweet. I don't know if that even exists, but that is how I see it. Some stories gave me the chills, sure, but at the same time, I felt a wave of sorrow and a feeling of understanding, empathy. Loneliness moves the world, for better or for worse.
So, whatever. I don't know why the hell I'm reviewing this because I can't find the right words.
I like things to be story-shaped.
Reality, however, is not story-shaped, and the eruptions of the odd into our lives are not story-shaped either. They do not end in entirely satisfactory ways. Recounting the strange is like telling one's dreams: one can communicate the events of a dream but not the emotional content, the way that a dream can color one's entire day.

Like this book.

I'm not used to the contemporary writing style. The newest thing I read was written sixty years ago. I don't know why, honestly. (Okay, I know but I don't want to say it). So, it is a big change for me. I don't usually connect with living writers. Gaiman is a nice exception (most of the times).

Feb 09, 14
* Also on my blog.
Profile Image for Ashley Daviau.
1,805 reviews795 followers
November 17, 2019
This is my first time (well second technically since I’ve read this book twice!) reading something by Gaiman that’s not a full length novel and I enjoyed it just as much, if not more! This is a truly stunning collection of delightfully dark and macabre short stories and poems and I absolutely devoured them. Gaiman just has such a special way of putting words on paper, it’s like he’s drawing in my mind instead of writing a story and I absolutely love that about his writing style. I’d try and pick a favourite from this collection but I’d sit here for hours trying to decide and still not be able to come up with an answer because I adored them all!
Profile Image for Becky.
1,384 reviews1,651 followers
February 14, 2014
This is my second read-through of this book, and it was just as great, and oddly, just as surprising this time around as the last.

I don't know why it is, but I just have this image in my mind of Neil Gaiman as a proper author. I don't mean 'proper' to mean that he is officially an author (though he is), or that he does it correctly (though he does), but 'proper' in terms of vocabulary and ideas being more on the... non-vulgar side of things. I have this picture in my head, despite reading his books and stories and blog posts and comics, and having seen him live with his wife Amanda Palmer, who seems to revel in vulgarity at times... and none of these things support this idea I have of him. But still it persists.

And so when I read the stories in this book, they give me a little thrill, because I don't expect the vulgar and the so-very-adult-ness of some of these stories. Even though, by all accounts, I SHOULD.

I'm not easily shocked or offended, but I like that sometimes Neil's writing van cause that little thrill in me. It keeps me on my toes. Doesn't let me get too comfortable in Neil's work, because there's such a huge range of it that you never know which way he'll go next. And I like that. A lot.

I don't know if I want to talk about the stories individually, except to say that I don't think there's any that I actively dislike, though I'd have to say that Harlequin Valentine is probably my least favorite. But I do want to say that one thing I love about almost the entire collection is the interpretability of the stories. They all have layers that just work so beautifully together, and you can see them in the way that makes sense to you.

The stories aren't surprisingly good, because I expect everything Neil writes to be good, but they are surprising AND good. So many of these stories gave me an interesting perspective on something, and made me a part of the story for a little while. Really excellent short fiction pulls you into the story and doesn't want to let you go. You want to think about it, and examine it, and expand on it... and that's what this collection achieved.

This is a fantastic collection, and if you can get this on audio, I highly recommend it. Of course, Neil Gaiman could read a Chinese take-out menu and I'll fall all over myself gushing about how brilliantly he read it. So, you know, listen to it. You won't be sorry.
Profile Image for RJ - Slayer of Trolls.
807 reviews189 followers
February 25, 2018
Collection of Gaiman's short stories and poem, including the following:
- Introduction - 3/5 - story notes and anecdotes includes short story The Mapmaker (also 3/5)
- A Study in Emerald - 5/5 - Sherlock Cthulhu
- The Fairy Reel - 3/5 - poem
- October in the Chair - 3/5 - test run for Gaiman's Graveyard Book
- The Hidden Chamber - 3/5 - poem
- Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire - 3/5 - one of Gaiman's earliest tales, reworked for an anthology
- The Flints of Memory Lane - 3/5 - short, allegedly true ghost story
- Closing Time - 3/5 - simple but effective ghost story
- Going Wodwo - 3/5 - poem
- Bitter Grounds - 3/5 - quirky southern gothic tale
- Other People - 4/5 - hell with a moebius twist ending
- Keepsakes and Treasures - 4/5 - very different feel for Gaiman
- Good Boys Deserve Favors - 3/5 - young man with a big bass
- The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch - 3/5 - quirky little story to accompany a Frazetta painting
- Strange Little Girls - 2/5 - it's as exciting as Tori Amos liner notes...wait a minute, it IS Tori Amos liner notes
- Harlequin Valentine - 2/5 - based on a sculpture, seems indulgent
- Locks - 4/5 - poem about Gaiman reading Goldilocks to his 2 year old daughter
- The Problem of Susan - 3/5 - whatever happened to Susan from the Narnia books (WARNING: explicit, not for children)
- Instructions - 4/5 - poem
- How Do You Think It Feels? - 3/5 - breaking up is hard to do
- My Life - 4/5 - poem
- Fifteen Painted Cards From A Vampire Tarot - 2/5 - brief vignettes made to accompany a book of vampire tarot cards (?)
- Feeders and Eaters - 3/5 - well that was gruesome, and the ending was kind of obvious...
- Diseasemaker's Croup - 1/5 - not too clever, and basically unreadable
- In The End - 3/5 - what the last book of the Bible should have said
- Goliath - 4/5 - should have taken the blue pill?
- Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Louisville, Kentucky - 2/5 - Tori Amos tour book notes, based on one of her songs
- How to Talk to Girls at Parties - 4/5 - this explains some of my youthful experiences at parties
- The Day The Saucers Came - 4/5 - poem
- Sunbird - 4/5 - tribute to R.A. Lafferty; what do you feed people who have eaten everything?
- Inventing Aladdin - 3/5 - poem about maybe how the myth of Aladdin began
- The Monarch of the Glen - 4/5 - Shadow Moon story set in Northern Ireland
Profile Image for Cyndi.
2,338 reviews100 followers
August 29, 2018
A group of short stories by the brilliant Neil Gaiman. Some are very short some are longer but all of them are wonderful!
Profile Image for Ana.
2,352 reviews325 followers
January 3, 2016
The Mapmaker – originally written for American Gods, this short story is a cautionary tale about disregarding the needs of others while chasing ones desires and chasing immortality by keeping records a.k.a that map (3 stars)

A Study in Emeraldgoodreads.com/review/show/1321098517 (3 stars)

The Fairy Reel – a short lyric poem about the foolishness of not risking your heart (3 stars)

October in the Chair – runaway boy finds a ghost (4 stars)

The Hidden Chamber – gothic poem about Bluebeard (3 stars)

Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire – Gaiman makes fun of the kind of reader I was at 14. I don't take offense, it's a good story (4 stars)

The Flints of Memory Lane – a real life ghost story has no resolution (3 stars)

Closing Time– ghost stories shared by friends in a pub (3 stars)

Going Wodwo – a poem about a wild man in the woods; I need to read Ted Hughes (3 stars)

Bitter Grounds – odd story about loss, love, carelessness, voodoo, sex, ghosts, and more (4 stars)

Other People – the terror of purgatory is within himself (3 stars)

Keepsakes and Treasures: A Love Story – the second in command of a criminal boss is tasked with finding a lover for his boss (4 stars)

Good Boys Deserve Favors – inspired by a statue by Lisa Snellings-Clark of a man holding a double bass (3 stars)

The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch – inspired by a painting by Frank Frazetta of a savage woman flanked by tigers. I like how it started by telling us the ending in which three writers try to decide what to do with a logically unexplainable situation and worrying that no one would believe them because of their profession. A circus story. (4 stars)

Strange Little Girls– twelve very short stories to accompany Tori Amos's CD Strange Little Girls (3 stars)

Harlequin Valentine– trickster Harlequin woos an unusual Columbine... or maybe not (4 stars)

Locks – a conversational poem editing the tale of Goldilocks (3 stars)

The Problem of Susan– this story was written in response to the character Susan in Narnia and also how children's fiction came to be. I like how human professor Hastings is when she talks about tragedy and how is clashes with Brenda's insistence in believing that the author has moral authority in the world he created. I loved how Mary Poppins was introduced into the story. (4 stars)

Instructions – a poem giving instructions about what to do when you find yourself in a fairy tale (3 stars)

How Do You Think It Feels? – story inspired by gargoyles and heartbreak (4 stars)

My Life – monologue about an odd life (3 stars)

Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot – vampire story (3 stars)

Feeders and Eaters – two old acquaintances are reunited and one of them is so dramatically altered. This is the story about what happened to him. Scary, very scary! (3 stars)

Diseasemaker's Croup – an interesting take on hypochondriacs (3 stars)

In the End – imagined as the very last book of the Bible; the last phrase of this story really stuck with me (4 stars)

Goliath – set in the Matrix universe and included with The Matrix Comics Vol. 1 (4 stars)

Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Louisville, Kentucky – written for the album Scarlet's Walk, by Tori Amos (3 stars)

How to Talk to Girls at Parties - goodreads.com/review/show/907208644?b... (3 stars)

The Day the Saucers Came - poem describing me waiting for the phone to ring (4 stars)

Sunbird – a club of Epicureans are trying to find a new culinary challenge by going to Cairo to eat a phoenix (3 stars)

Inventing Aladdin – a poem depicting the invention of stories, in this case, Aladdin by Scheherazade (3 stars)

The Monarch of the Glen – a novella-length sequel to Gaiman's novel American Gods inspired by Beowulf and set in remote areas of Scotland (3 stars)
Profile Image for Clau.
849 reviews118 followers
July 29, 2020
Al principio, no sabía cómo reseñar este libro. Al final, lo que decidí fue mencionar cada uno de los relatos, aunque excluyendo los poemas (porque no sé interpretar poesía, no la entiendo y honestamente, tampoco me gusta). Lo que sí debo decir es que es la primera vez que leo a Gaiman, y aunque varios relatos me gustaron bastante, la verdad es que no creo que llegue a atreverme con otro de sus libros, al menos en el corto plazo.

1. A Study in Scarlet. Este es el primer relato del libro, y aparentemente, es una de las historias cortas famosas del autor, al menos según lo que él mismo dice. Si tuviera que resumirlo, diría que es una versión bizarra de Sherlock Holmes. Me pareció un retelling distinto, aunque no me convenció demasiado.

2. October in the Chair. Creo que este relato es uno de mis favoritos. Nos cuenta una historia dentro de una historia, sin dar mucho contexto ni explicación, y con un final abierto que sólo te hace suponer lo peor, que algo horrible ocurrió, pero no lo sabes. Comentario al margen: tengo la teoría que la historia que cuenta October es su historia, él es el niño pequeño que escapa de su casa.

3. Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire. Este es otro relato de una historia dentro de una historia. A pesar de mis esfuerzos, no logré entender ninguna de las dos.

4. The flints of Memory Lane. Una historia de fantasmas bastante breve y simple.

5. Closing Time. Esta es otra historia de fantasmas (creo) y de una historia dentro de una historia.

6. Bitter Grounds. Otra historia de fantasmas, creo, y quizá de zombies. Creo que lo que más me gustó es que toma lugar en New Orleans, una ciudad bastante... mágica de Estados Unidos, que me gustaría visitar algún día (obviamente, en la medida que la pandemia -o Trump y su desprecio hacia los latinos- lo permita).

7. Other People. A pesar de su escasa extensión, creo que ha sido una de mis historias favoritas, porque creo que retrata de alguna forma "las vueltas de la vida".

8. Keepsakes and Treasures. Interesante. Perturbador, pero interesante.

9. Good Boys deserve Favors. Esta historia es mucho más inocente que las demás del libro, y creo que se fundamenta un poco en la noción de karma.

10. The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch. Esta es una de las historias lo suficientemente importantes para tener una breve alusión en la contraportada del libro. Es bizarro, pero también creo que muestra que lo que uno quiere (o cree querer) puede ser un arma de doble filo.

11. Strange Little Girls. Creo que me faltó contexto en este relato (esa opinión la sustento, en parte, en que el autor explica que esta historia fue creada para un album homónimo).

12. Harlequin Valentine. Quizá esta historia también podría tener algo con el karma, como el embustero termina siendo embaucado. Aunque debo decir que no me gustó particularmente, y probablemente sea de aquellas historias que olvide primero.

13. The problem of Susan. Este relato se parece un poco al primero, en el sentido que el autor toma un clásico, como son las Crónicas de Narnia, a partir del cual narra una historia. En este caso, qué ocurrió con Susan, después de la muerte de su familia.

14. How do you think it feels? Sorry, pero no me gustan este tipo de historias, aunque sí me pareció interesante la idea de un guardián del corazón.

15. Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot. Por lo que entendí, este relato son fundamentalmente pequeñitas historias acerca de vampiros y otras criaturas.

16. Feeders and Eaters. Posiblemente el relato más perturbador del libro, al menos hasta ahora.

17. Diseasemaker's Croup. Relato cortito acerca de una enfermedad muy extraña. No me llamó mucho la atención, la verdad.

18. In the End. Nuevamente, Gaiman nos ofrece una reinterpretación, aunque esta vez del Génesis.

19. Goliath. Un cuento bizarro, más de ciencia ficción que de fantasía.

20. Pages from a Journal found in a shoebox left in a greyhound bus somewhere between Tulsa, Oklahoma and Louisville, Kentucky. Vaya título largo para un cuento relativamente corto. Tal como sugiere el título, se trata de una serie de páginas sueltas de un diario, que relatan la búsqueda interminable del protagonista de una chica llamada Scarlet.

21. How to talk to Girls at Parties. Me esperaba más de uno de los cuentos que menciona el libro en la contratapa. No me pareció inquietante ni particularmente interesante.

22. Sunbird. Creo que este cuentito se me hizo más predecible que ningún otro. Supongo que me gustó, pero no es mi favorito en el librito.

23. The Monarch of the Glen. Este es el relato final, que se enmarca en la saga American Gods. Es posible que no lo haya disfrutado precisamente porque me faltó el contexto de esa saga, que no he leído.
Profile Image for Jonathan Terrington.
595 reviews572 followers
February 3, 2013

Stories, Neil Gaiman informs in the introduction, are fragile things made up of 26 letters (more if you want to use phonetic symbols), ink and paper. They are illusions created by things that cannot last, but the best stories survive and transform. The stories within this volume are perhaps some of those best stories.

This collection contained many of Gaiman's most famous short stories. I want to write three quick reviews of some of the short stories. Including one which I previously read online and reviewed seperately.

A Study in Emerald

A re-read of A Study in Emerald proved highly enlightening as I was able to observe and analyse the technique used by Gaiman in creating the story. As previously mentioned his first paragraph verges close to plagiarism in how it replicates the feel of another Sherlock Holmes story A Study in Scarlet. Yet only a foolish person would dare call this a work of plagiarism, rather it is a story which clearly references both Lovecraft and Doyle in a unique manner. It is a work of genius and a very clever short story in all its technical proficiency.

Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire

This was a story which I didn't quite understand but I have an idea of what Gaiman was aiming at. If what I think is correct then it was a very clever story, speaking about the writer's art and about the connection between horror and reality. It was also a creepy story in the proper way a horror story should be!

The Problem of Susan

This is one of Neil Gaiman's more famous stories and also a very controversial one. I liked some elements of it, for instance the technical aspect of the writing However what did not work where the sexual undertones and the analysis that Susan was left behind because of her growing sexuality which is what many people have criticised Lewis for. However I think that section of The last Battle personally is meant to be focused around the fact that Susan became focused on other things than Narnia. I think that Lewis merely phrased this concept awkwardly, in a way that makes it easy to see it as a sexist dig at Susan not being able to go to Narnia because she discovered boys and lipstick. Yet if you do a true analysis I think you'll notice that the grown up Lucy does go to Narnia in the end. Surely she would have discovered some kind of adult sexuality? Yet she remained true to Narnia. I also disliked the metaphor with the lion and the witch very much. I think Neil Gaiman's own personal ideology causes him to spite the religious message in the Narnia books and that it was rather apparent in his (I thought it was vulgar) portrayal of the witch and lion.


On the whole most of the stories worked and the poems additionally added an extra level to this collection. It is certainly something every short story enthusiast and fantasy fan, let alone Neil Gaiman fan will want to read. Gaiman is one of the more versatile modern authors and his work is both bizarre, fascinating, reflective and full of literary reference. His humour shines through in subtle ways, making his work that little bit more charming. On the whole an easy four star rating and a collection to enjoy on any kind of day.
Profile Image for Obsidian.
2,791 reviews961 followers
March 5, 2020
Please note that I gave this 3.5 stars. I rounded it up to 4 stars on Goodreads.

So all in all definitely a mixed bag I am sad to say. I have loved everything else that I have read of Neil Gaiman's though I did only find Good Omens to be okay/good and have no intention of re-reading it. I have already read "Coraline" and "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" twice this year.

"A Study in Emerald" (5 stars)- a Sherlock Holmes story that is not a Sherlock Holmes story. I know that makes no sense, but you will get that when you read the whole story. I really did enjoy this one especially about a darker version of the heroes we know and love.

"The Fairy Reel" (4.5 stars)- I liked the poem and it did have me imagining a young man out in the woods calling to a fairy.

"October in the Chair" (5 stars)-This was a great story involving the months as we know them coming to life and telling stories.

"The Hidden Chamber" (3 stars)- I think I just dislike poems. I recall from Stephen King's latest he had some in there and I just hard cringed at them.

"Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves of the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire" (3 stars)- I still have absolutely no idea what in the world was going on. We have a man writing a ghost story and oh yeah he may live in a haunted house. And people are not who they appear to be. And things just end on no explanation.

"The Flints of Memory Lane" (4 stars)- Just a short story about a young man remembering the time he came across something evil.

"Closing Time" (4.5 stars)- This story was a little weird, but in the end I liked it well enough. I think that the problem was the reveal just happens and I sat there scratching my head. So I don't know what the man in the story met as a young boy.

"Going Wodwo" (1 star) -Another poem. At least it was only a page and a half.

"Bitter Grounds" (2 stars)-This story seemed endless and nonsensical. I am still trying to figure out what happened to the anthropology professor so maybe that's why I could not get into this story.

"Other People" (3 stars) - I was the least surprised person at the end of this short story.

"Keepsakes and Treasures" (1 star)- I know that there are evil people in the world, but this whole story was repulsive as hell. I found it hard to read and hope that Mr. Alice and Mr. Smith show up again and something terrible happens to them both.

"Good Boys Deserve Favors" (2 stars)- An okay story. I just didn't get the point of it. It stuck out a bit in this collection to me.

"The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch" (1 star)- This story was so odd. I don't even know what I was supposed to take away from it. Miss Finch sucks. But so do the other people in this story.

"Strange Little Girls" (2 stars)- Just seemed to be listing different attributes certain women take on. I don't know. I didn't enjoy it.

"Harlequin Valentine" (2 stars) - Meh.

"Locks" (1 star) -Another poem.

"The Problem of Susan" (5 stars)- Disturbing as anything, but it does give a different perspective as what became of Susan Pevensie and why she turned her back on all things Narnia. I do want to high five Mr. Gaiman for this one. It has never sat right for me that Susan was left behind to never enter Narnia because of some b.s. reasons.

"Instructions" (1 star)- Another poem.

"How Do You Think It Feels?" (3 stars)- I went back and forth on this one because I thought the main character was a jerk. And it seems in the end maybe he imagined things about a former lover. Who knows.

"My Life" (1 star)- Another poem.

"Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot" (1 star)- No. I just read that thing twice and just rolled my eyes.

"Feeders and Eaters" (3 stars)- Another weird story. Why did the character of Eddie even get into the arrangement that he did. There were so many questions I had. I think the ending was supposed to shock, but I was left with a lot of questions.

"Diseasemaker's Croup" (.5 star) - My eyes glazed over so I can't tell you what this was about. I tried to re-read it for the final review and my brain shut that down so quickly it was unreal. So that's all I got. I could not stand to read this past two paragraphs.

"In the End" (1.5 stars)- Barely counts as a short story about the Garden of Eden.

"Goliath" (4 stars)- Sad story from beginning to end. Now of course I am wondering what was real and what was not based on how the story went.

"Pages from a Journal Found in a Shoebox Left in a Greyhound Bus Somewhere Between Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Louisville, Kentucky" (3.5 stars)-It was okay. I just didn't get into this story much.

"How to Talk to Girls at Parties" (3 stars)-Very weird. I really didn't get into it at all.

"The Day the Saucers Came" (4 stars)- I did like this long winding story where it comes out that sitting around and waiting for someone to call you is pretty much never the answer.

"Sunbird" (4 stars)- I liked the whole thing about this elusive eating club getting their just desserts.

"Inventing Aladdin" (3 stars)- Another poem taking a look at Scheherazade. This was one of the few poems in the collection that I enjoyed.

"The Monarch of the Glen" (5 stars) -This is American Gods #1.5 and I will say that if I had gotten this as a stand alone novella I would have been happy. We get to revisit Shadow and see how he is faring. He comes across some things that should not be real and also the characters Mr. Alice and Mr. Smith from a previous story in this collection.
Profile Image for Kerfe.
897 reviews37 followers
December 1, 2008
I have not read Neil Gaiman's novels but I've heard good things about them. This collection is obviously not a good place to start reading his work. First off, the intro was irritating. The self-satisfied aren't-I-wonderful? name dropping tone was kind of overbearing, and probably put me in an extra-critical mood.

The short story is unforgiving; you don't have time for slow bits, or parts that sound like you've read them already somewhere before. And paying homage is tricky too--it can't be merely a lesser or different version of the original concept. It needs to have its own substance, its own reason for being. Gaiman seems to admire science fiction, horror, and fantasy, but his attempts to emulate them failed to engage me.

Maybe the real world has made me too cynical or jaded, but what is meant to be scary or sinister seems here to be instead pathetic and old. What should be mysterious is merely another plot for a reality TV show. The writing itself is not that good, and uses an awful lot of cliches, in a kind of casual, isn't this amusing? way. If Gaiman is trying to parody pop culture, it falls flat for me. It's just not different or new or clever enough.

Despite my overall disappointment, there were some things I liked, especially the science fictiony "Goliath" (inspired by the Matrix movies) and "How to Talk to Girls at Parties". The American Gods novella, "Monarch of the Glen", also had some good parts, which leads me to believe that the novels really must be far better. The poetry did not appeal to me, except for "Instructions".

I know publishers like to cash in on popular authors, but if, like me, this is the first Gaiman you pick up, it's doubtful it would make you want to read more.
Profile Image for Chris.
246 reviews59 followers
November 29, 2019
Fragile Things is an excellent collection of short stories (including an American Gods story) and poetry. Unlike most short story collections I've read, this one has many more hits than misses. There were only a few pieces that I didn't really enjoy. I'd definitely recommend this one.
Profile Image for lavenderews.
585 reviews752 followers
September 6, 2021
Te opowiadania mają w sobie prawdziwą magię. Są tajemnicze, wyjątkowe i napisane z wyjątkową wyobraźnią.
Profile Image for Helen.
43 reviews
May 24, 2012
Neil Gaiman is amazing and this collection is proof. There are some stories in here that are so good, that I wanted to immediately go back and read them again as soon as I finished. For example:

"A Study in Emerald"
"October in the Chair"
"Other People"
"Bitter Grounds"
"Keepsakes and Treasures"
"Harlequin Valentine"
"Sunbird" and
"Monarch of the Glen."

The rest of the stories all have something interesting to say as well, and each is written in Gaiman's unique style. I even liked some of the poems included, though this was the weakest part of the collection.

I guess you could say I loved this.

Profile Image for Erica.
1,339 reviews442 followers
June 9, 2015
Wow, I am crabby.
I'm in a punching kittens/kicking puppies place right now, have been for awhile.
I think this current state of being is blocking my ability to find enjoyment in things I typically find delightful.
This book of collected Gaiman stories, for example.
I pressed "Play", he started reading, I went, "Ahhhhhhh. Bliss," and then I got bored.
I made it all the way to the last disc and then kind of fast-forwarded to the end, skipping giant parts, leaving huge swaths of un-listened-to prose behind me.
It just didn't scratch the itch I'd expected to have relieved, which is tragic (for me)
Don't worry, I'm not losing the 1/4 soul I own (my mother told me my siblings and I share one soul between us because there aren't enough souls to go around anymore, due to our living too long and the lower infant mortality rate, etc. Damn you, medical technology, messing with the supply and demand of souls), it's just bruised right now and I need a breather.
I may try this again another day. Maybe not, though; I'd already read/heard/seen about half the stories anyhow so I'm not sure that I really need to go through it all again.
Man. I am so sad for myself.
Profile Image for Becky.
1,384 reviews1,651 followers
December 16, 2015
I really enjoyed this collection of stories. I listened to the audiobook version read by the author himself, which I think added quite a bit to the experience. It's been my experience that authors who read their own stories as audiobooks are generally not the best. While it's true that they know their characters and their stories, many of them just don't have the voice or talent for oral storytelling. That's not to say that the author isn't a storyteller - obviously they are, often they just shouldn't do it orally.

Neil Gaiman, thankfully, is a natural oral storyteller. He brings the story and the characters to life, and the listener forgets that they are listening to something that was once written because it feels so naturally spoken -- like the story is just flowing through him to us.

Many of these stories took me by surprise. I don't think of Gaiman as a YA author, but even so, I didn't expect the themes and details of the stories in this collection to be so jaded or brutal. Gaiman doesn't make these things the focus, but rather adds them in an almost nonchalant way that has more of an impact because it's NOT the focus.

I also really enjoy Gaiman's perspective and unique way of seeing the world and everything in it. I like his ability to effortlessly maneuver his readers right into the position we need to be in for maximum effect, and when we get there, he flips everything, so we're left wondering just what happened and how we got where we are when obviously we were just on our way to somewhere else.

I'm not much for poetry, and I didn't really get much out of the poems that were included here, so I couldn't give this one a 5 star rating, but aside from that, I loved this collection. It's a keeper.
Profile Image for Tanabrus.
1,857 reviews163 followers
November 20, 2021
Una raccolta di racconti e poesie che spazia un po' lungo tutta la carriera di Gaiman, da racconti iniziati agli albori a un bel racconto su Shadow di American Gods, dopo la fine di quel libro.

Alcuni molto molto belli, la maggior parte senza infamia nè lode, alcuni non mi sono piaciuti vuoi anche per la brevità dello scritto.
Almeno quattro li avevo già letti in passato, magari con altri titoli, ma a distanza di svariati anni avevo rimosso quasi tutti i racconti dalla memoria, quindi poco male.

Tra le perle abbiamo comunque Uno studio smeraldo (Sherlock Holmes incontra Lovecraft), Presiede Ottobre (uno dei racconti che avevo già letto), L'uccello del sole (altro raccolto già letto, l'unico che ricordavo abbastanza bene), Gli altri (sull'Inferno).
Profile Image for Simon.
176 reviews17 followers
July 19, 2019
If only I could write half as well as Neil Gaiman.

I enjoyed almost every short story and poem in this collection. Especially the "novella" (?) at the end where the reader gets to see Shadow Moon again. Reminds me that I need to re-read American Gods at some point and see the TV adaptation.
Profile Image for Chris  Haught.
580 reviews219 followers
November 23, 2015
4.5 stars, really.

What a delightful collection of Gaiman's short stories! I was very impressed, liking this even better than I expected. It very nearly got a full 5-stars, but I honestly have a hard time giving that rating to a collection of short stories. They have to really 'wow' me for that. Most of the time the stories, being short, don't really capture the full suspension of belief that's required to become fully absorbed and lost. The more lost I get, the more big stars it'll get.

That said, this is still an excellent work. I had some hesitation, not to read it but certainly in prioritizing it, after I'd read Smoke and Mirrors a couple of years ago. I liked that collection, but it didn't grab me. Certainly not like I was grabbed by American Gods, Neverwhere, or the Preludes and Nocturnes (Sandman) series. But this one certainly did the trick and belongs in the Gaiman canon with those other heavy hitters.

The poetry and other short miscellanies within this book were interesting, and some of them actually made sense (unlike poetry in general which usually comes off to me as fluff). They added a nice interlude between the stories, the meat of the matter.

And those are what makes this a gem.

"Monarch of the Glen" is a novella which serves as a sequel to American Gods. Here we get to see a little bit of how Shadow is carrying on after the events of that novel. This was a nice teaser, making me want a new American Gods novel now. C'mon, Neil. Everybody wants you to write it.

"The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch" is wonderful. Sinister and mysterious and weird.

"The Problem of Susan" addresses some concerns with the Narnia series.

"A Study in Emerald" is just wicked and delightful.

"Goliath" is a nice surprise and very weirdly well done.

"October in the Chair" has wonderful characterization and keeps the reader on the edge of his/her chair.

"Bitter Grounds", "How to Talk to Girls at Parties", "Keepsakes and Treasures", and "Harlequin Valentine" were all favorites too. Though there really wasn't a bad one in the lot.

Yes, it's definitely time for a new American Gods novel, and another story collection while you're at it, Mr. Gaiman.
Profile Image for CraftyChara.
602 reviews100 followers
April 10, 2019
"The Mapmaker" 3 stars
"A Study in Emerald" 4 stars
"The Fairy Reel" 2 stars
"October in the Chair" 4 stars
"The Hidden Chamber" 3 stars
"Forbidden Brides of the Faceless Slaves in the Secret House of the Night of Dread Desire" 3 stars
"The Flints of Memory Lane" 3 stars
"Closing Time" 3 stars
"Going Wodwo" 2 stars
"Bitter Grounds" 3 stars
"Other People"2 stars
"Keepsakes and Treasures: A Love Story" 4 stars
"Good Boys Deserve Favors" 2 stars
"The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch" 4 stars
"Strange Little Girls" 3 stars
"Harlequin Valentine" 4 stars
"Locks" 4 stars
"The Problem of Susan" 4 stars
"Instructions" 5 stars
"How Do You Think It Feels?" 3 stars
"My Life" 3 stars
"Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot"3 stars
"Feeders and Eaters" 4 stars
"Diseasemaker's Croup" 4 stars
"In the End" 3 stars
"Goliath"4 stars
"Oklahoma, and Louisville, Kentucky" 3 stars
"The Day the Saucers Came"4 stars
"Sunbird" 3 stars
"Inventing Aladdin" 3 stars
The Monarch of the Glen 4 stars
Profile Image for Makrand.
163 reviews50 followers
January 5, 2020
Seems like a collection of drafts. Some really amazing plots and really wierd ideas as expected of Gaiman's book however lacks the magic of his story telling.

Fragile Things is a collection of short stories and poems by my favourite author Neil Gaiman.

This would probably be his first book which I disliked and wanted to finish as soon as I can.

Fragile Things majorly consists of spooky, grim tales of deceit, treachery and revenge. What I hated the most was, i felt this was Neil's 'drafts' instead of a book for stories were quite abrupt, with no proper ending or even characters. Lacked the spooky factor. I'd start getting interested in a story and the next moment it would end abruptly just like that.

There were around 20-23 short stories/poems and I liked just two or three of them. "Goliath" was my favourite.

The only reason I finished the book was because I wanted to see at what lengths Neil can elaborate his fantasies and I really respect him for that since I believe No one can write Fantasies as Neil does & he sure didn't disappoint me in that area.

Read this book for crazy ideas, wierd topics and exceptionally out of the box plots.
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