I knew Fragile Things was a collection of short stories and poems, and I thought it would be a good way to cover more ground with Neil Gaiman and get a more definitive sense of his writing style. I was right, but I was wrong to approach his writing that way. In the end, Fragile Things was a slight disappointment.
Don’t get me wrong, Neil Gaiman is a very good writer. He has a marvelous tongue for storytelling. Fragile Things runs through past, present and future periods of fantasy and poetry, adult fairy-tales and Gothic nearly-horror. He writes with clever turns of phrase, alternate realities, twisted mythologies, and interesting points-of-view.
But, the Things inside Fragile Things are just too Fragile; unfinished snippets or unused plot branches from other works; roughed-out ideas collected and published once the name “Neil Gaiman” on the cover of the book would sell more copies than anything inside it. (Hint: Check the last few pages to see where all the stories came from and when.) Few of the stories let me in deeply enough to really enjoy them.
So I got what I wanted, but it turns out it wasn’t what I wanted after all. Like I said, the ideas were clever, but not very flushed out. Fragile Things is like walking past the bakery and having a look and a sniff of the whole lot, instead of a solid taste of anything in particular.
So, I can’t really recommend Fragile Things to anyone but the most hardcore Neil Gaiman fans who have read Everything Else and still want more. I’ve added ‘Neverwhere’ and ‘Death: The High Cost Of Living’ to my Christmas list, in the hopes of getting something a little less fragile…