by Avi Bercovich
lucid prose and fabulous flights of fantasy have earned him a measure
of fame and success in the Sci-Fi and Fantasy genres that rivals that
of his popstar friends. I imagine that when the book was announced in
2006, Tori Amos immediately reached for her sleeping bag and thermos
flask in anticipation of a long night outside The Book Shoppe on
Porchester high steet. It's unfortunate therefore, that Fragile Things
seems more of a "publishers work" aimed at boosting quarterly revenue
than an honest attempt at fresh storytelling by the Maestro.
As disappointing as it is that all but one of the stories were
published elsewhere before inclusion in this collection, none of the
included stories really fails to entertain.
story A study on Emerald
is nicely formulaic - much befitting its victorian subject and style -
but the same writing-by-numbers device falls flat in Forbidden Brides...
and Good Boys Deserve
Favours. On the other hand October in the Chair is
a wonderfully Gaimanesque inversion of reality in which the months of
the year sit together swapping stories. Fabulous!
Locks, Inventing Aladdin
and The Flints of
Memory Lane are interesting musings on the nature of
storytelling - one of the themes Gaiman tries to explore in this
Valentine, Bitter Grounds, Sunbird, Other People and How to Talk to Girls at Parties
are good examples of the stories of "becoming"
that Gaiman is so adept at. They all come full circle and are nicely
'story shaped', but like much of Fragile
Things none of them is truly amazing.
also gives us a glimpse of his skill in constructing an 'inter-tale
backstory universe' when the characters introduced in the Keepsakes and Treasures story
return in the novella version of American
Gods, which closes the collection.
the ok-but-not-amazing character of this collection is the fact that
the freshly written semi-fiction of the introduction is a very definite
highlight. In it Gaiman offers some fascinating insights into the how
and why of his writing, spinning short stories about the writers and
events that inspired the collection and telling tales of their
commissioning and publishing. It may be that I'm used to reading
Gaiman's longer works where he has more time to weave his immersive
magicke, but whatever the reason, it's hard not to feel that Fragile Things
isn't quite up to Gaiman's usually very high standards. Possibly it's
time for Mr Gaiman to leave Americaland, where he seems to have fallen
into the clutches of Agents and Marketeers, and returns to England to
write some more of the really good stuff.
Bercovich , having
suffered through Arthur van Schendels gruesome work 'Grauwe Vogels' for
his A-levels, has
assiduously avoided 'serious' literature and has since read loads of
Comics, Sci-Fi and Fantasy instead.
Publisher: Headline Review
Gaiman, winner of every single Sci-Fi and Fantasy literary
award this side of Alpha Centauri, is
one of the most prolific and successful writers of Sci-Fi and Fantasy
comics, books, short stories and films. His comic series The Sandman and
novel American Gods
are essential reading, though some feel that the lesser-known novel Neverwhere might be
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you liked this book you might also like....
Neil Gaiman "Smoke and Mirrors"
& "M is for Magic"
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