Whenever I read Neil Gaiman’s short-form fiction — his poetry and short stories — I feel as if I’m inhaling some alchemical substance, an aroma whose very essence is imagination, refined by years of study and hard work.
Fragile Things is one of several short story collections which might very well be my favorite (althought that’s arguable). Some of the best stories you’ll discover in it include:
- A Study in Emerald, a short story that mixes the Cthulhu mythos with Sherlock Holmes…with a major twist. The title is an obvious riff on A Study in Scarlet, where Holmes and Watson first appeared.
- The Problem of Susan, a short story that acts as something of a study/critique of Susan Pevensie, one of the protagonists of the Narnia series. It’s a haunting story, and you can read it here, if you’ve nowhere to pick the anthology from, or if you need a taste before you commit to a purchase.
- Fifteen Painted Cards from a Vampire Tarot is a weird, disconnected tale; a few tales, revolving around the names of tarot cards.
- The Monarch of the Glen, a novella-sized sequel to American Gods. If you haven’t read American Gods, I’d advise you to do so before touching this.
- Instructions, a poem that gives instructions (what else) for surviving in a fairy tale land — since that can still happen, occasionally. How else could you explain Neil Gaiman’s hair?
- Sunbird, which is also in the anthology of short stories prepared by Gaiman–Unnatural Creatures– is all about a club of bored rich people, who seek the most amazing gourmet food; when all else is tasted, they decide to feed on the exotic Sunbird.
- How to talk to Girls at Parties, which is getting the movie treatment, was nominated for a Hugo, and is an overall fascinating piece of fiction, is about a shy boy going to a party with his best friend, and things getting pretty weird.
As things are bound to, at parties…which you’d know, if you ever went to parties with me.
There’s more, of course, but these are the ones that left the biggest impact on me. The collection is very much worth your time!