I’ve yet to find a story written by Neil Gaiman that I get bored with. He’s written things that scare me, repulse me, make me sad, happy, laugh, wonder, essentially in reading his stories I’ve felt all the feels. Fragile Things is a collection of short stories that is a fairly good snapshot of what to expect when reading Neil Gaiman. However if someone had never read Neil Gaiman I wouldn’t recommend them to start with Fragile Things. It has many wonderful little stories in it, but I was left slightly unsatisfied with just enough of them that I worry if this is the first Gaiman book someone picks up they may not pick up another, and they’d be missing out.
One of the problems I had with some of the stories was that I wanted more. The story was good, interesting, and well told, but then it ended and I wanted a whole universe for the characters that were only given a few pages and a world. This is, of course, not the worst problem to have and for the most part it truly wasn’t. There were a few stories however, that felt like they needed more. I’ve been emotionally invested in many stories that ended exactly where they should end and I’ve selfishly wished for more because when there’s no more story to read it feels like an old friend died and all you have left is the pictures and stories you already lived. That’s perhaps a bit dramatic, but I do believe the sentiment is similar. A few of Gaiman’s short stories felt cut off. This actually gives me hope that in the future he’ll expand on them for a book. In the meantime I’ll always have the snapshots in Fragile Things.
I did make one very important realization while reading this book. I took it with me on a road trip to Colorado where I went backpacking for a couple of days. I read it in the car, not around the campfire because it is a rather large book and I already packed too many clothes. While reading it on the way to the trail I realized that these, and probably all of Gaiman’s other short stories, are perfect campfire stories. They are just spooky enough to give everybody a case of the heebie jeebies, but not so spooky that a warm fire, good friends, and some marshmallows can’t comfort you. I totally plan on finding people that will let me drag them out to the middle of nowhere, stick them in front of fire with marshmallows in hand, and read scary stories to them. That’s the dream. If someone else does it first I better be invited!