Whimsical meets macabre 


Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
By Neil Gaiman
William Morrow; $26.95

Though not a fan of short stories, I am of the company that sees Neil Gaiman as a minor god. So when his new collection of short stories came out, Fragile Things, I snatched it up eagerly. The whimsical meets macabre in these selections. And though the tales may feel truncated, each one was a cattle prod to the imagination.

Homages to Ray Bradbury and H.P. Lovecraft get the book rolling. There are snatches of poetry and stories that seem vaguely familiar. Many have appeared in other collections, some are being printed for the first time. In the Preface, Gaiman says a few words about each story or poem, which add depth to many of the pieces.

There are weird stories about little zombie girls who bring you coffee, and there are stories that don’t make sense but still managed to be award-winners, perhaps on the merit of Gaiman’s name alone. The book drags a bit in the middle, but picks back up with “The Facts in the Disappearance of Miss Finch,” a story that reminded me of too many nights spent watching pretentious theater. (Look for The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch, his new graphic novel coming out in January.)

Though not of the same caliber as his novels, Fragile Things will engross any Gaiman aficionado — it is something that can be picked up and put down on a whim to provide bizarre, creative reading for a long time.


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