This week concludes the groupread of Neil Gaiman’s collection of short stories entitled “Fragile Things,” hosted by Carl from Stainless Steel Droppings as a part of the R.eaders I.mbibing P.eril Challenge.
The image to the left is the cover from the Hungarian version of the book. I thought it was interesting to see the various international covers from the book, as they each provided different ways of interpreting the atmosphere of the collection.
Today’s post will involve spoilers from the last four stories/poems in the book. Later in the week, I’ll be posting a spoiler-free review of the book as a whole for anyone who hasn’t been following along.
The Day the Saucers Came
That day, the saucers landed. Hundreds of them, golden,
Silent, coming down from the sky like great snowflakes
I loved the opening lines of the poem. I’m sure part of it has to do with the first snow flurries of the season that fell in DC yesterday. Poor narrator’s a wee bit narcissistic, isn’t he? I liked this one. The imagery was nice, and who doesn’t love the zombie apocalypse?
In the introduction, Gaiman writes that this story was a birthday present for his daughter. The story describes the cyclical nature of time and legend, featuring the Epicurean society as they quest to sample everything edible on the planet, culminating in the Egyptian Sunbird. I found it both cute and horrifying at the same time, but then again, those who decide to chow down on legendary creatures deserve their fate. Then again, part of my thoughts on the story might stem from a mild resentment at being allergic to nuts and shellfish…
As I’ve said many times before, I love Neil Gaiman’s poems. He did such a good job setting the tone of this one… imagining Scheherazade trying to come up with stories and finding inspiration from ordinary events in her day-to-day life. Unlike the rest of us, she really couldn’t afford to get the occasional writer’s block when telling new stories. I liked the contrast that Gaiman draws between the very ordinary routine and her extraordinary circumstances. This poem was quite well done.
The Monarch of the Glen
Earlier in the book, we were introduced to Smith and Mr. Alice, and most of us tended to agree that the duo deserved to die (or worse) for their actions. In this book, they weren’t so dark, and in fact almost seemed likeable. Of all the characters in the story, I thought that Jennie was the most interesting. I felt bad that she and Shadow couldn’t be together in the end. They’d have made a rather cute couple. I also enjoyed the fact that Shadow seemed to have only a vague understanding of his past, revealed to us only through nightmares and bits of legend. He didn’t seem to understand his place within legend until it was too late to turn back.
“Sunbird” and “The Monarch of the Glen” both interested me in part because they told stories that were very cyclical; the same events happened throughout the centuries, but our characters didn’t understand until after the fact that they were becoming a part of the very same pattern. I loved the poems this week. Overall, these selections were a great way to conclude the readalong. It seems to have gone by so quickly, even though we’ve been doing this for eight weeks now!