Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman is a short story collection, most of which had previously been published in different literary magazines and anthologies.
Judging from the small summaries of each tale in the introduction, the stories don't seem to have much in common. However, as each of them unfolds, a sense of wholeness emerges. All the characters share, to some extent, some fantastic/supernatural elements, whether in a traditional or a psychological way. They are all monsters, one way or another, trying to achieve a goal. At times, their purpose is clear, at others, they follow the path blindly. Regardless, when all is said and done, the reader is left with the feeling that she witnessed something mystical, even sacred.
Neil Gaiman truly has a gift to create universes in the span of a few lines, thus sending a knowledgeable reader directly into fast paced action. He is at home with different genres, jumping from allegorical tales to realistic and harsh stories of cold-blooded murder. Rather than clash, the different styles create an enjoyable rhythm that keeps boredom at bay.
I took a lot of pleasure in reading all the stories but if I had to pick the best one, I'd choose Other people, Keepsakes and Treasures as well as The Monarch of the Glen. The ending of the first one totally threw me off. I really wasn't expecting it. As for the other two, I like the fact that they're connected. If was fun to see the same characters come back for one last act. I will also mention Sunbird because it bears similarities with The Gourmet Club by Junichiro Tanizaki. Both story share the same stasis: a dining club that has run out of things to eat, however they end in completely different ways. As for the poetry, The Day the Saucers Came is undeniably my favourite. The clever use of repetition and humour make the peace quite enjoyable.
This was my first Gaiman ever and I am looking forward to read more of his stories. I was already a fan of the man for his Make Good Art speech and am glad to say that I can extend this love to his work as well.