Monday, October 1, 2007

Short Story Sunday.....on Monday Part III


Yes...it's that time again. Time for another installment of short stories from Neil Gaiman. Fragile Things, as you all know is the title of this compilation of stories. Last week, most of the stories I read were ghost stories. Not so much this week. How to categorize them? I really can't answer that. But they were all good. (maybe not as good as before, but still definitely worth reading!)

Bitter Grounds tells the story of a man who was driving to the store one day...and just kept driving. The first line of the story pretty much tells it all: "In every way that counted, I was dead". Pretty nifty opening line, wouldn't you say? On his journey, he meets a man in need of a ride. "People come into your life for a reason." It's a premise that follows him around the entire story. A story that takes him to New Orleans, involves him in discussions with a High Priestess of Santeria, and introduces him to the Zombie coffee girls. It's a strange little tale with a strange little ending.

Other People is a mere few pages and seems to me to be Gaiman's personal definition of what Hell really is.

Keepsakes and Treasures is one of those short stories that left me wanting more. I want to know more about these people. Mr. Smith and Mr. Alice. Or at least that's what they are called today. Mr. Smith was taken in by Mr. Alice at an early age. Mr. Smith was born to a woman in an asylum. He was placed in an orphanage, where most of the little boys were abused and used for the personal gratification of the director. The director that incidentally committed "suicide" when Mr. Smith was 12 years old. Mr. Alice requested a meeting with the boy, and realized the potential he had....the potential of a sociopath. The story itself describes only snippets of a much larger story, a story that Gaiman needs to write.

Good Boys Deserve Favors is a story of an uninspired young boy that joins the school orchestra. Does he ever gain inspiration? Maybe. Was it magic that he played the way he did when he was asked to one day? Only you can be the judge of that.

The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch was probably my favorite of this week's readings. When a group of people go to the Theater of Night's Dreaming circus, not everyone comes back. In an eerie turn of events, Miss Finch is "chosen" from the audience to gain her desires from the "Cabinet of Wishes Fulfill'd". Who knew the outcome of her desires would end in such a strange fashion??

And finally, Strange Little Girls is basically the liner notes that Gaiman wrote for Tori Amos to use in her cd. Although I'm a huge fan of Tori Amos, the addition of this to Fragile Things just seemed a little out of place and basically just a few pages of filler.

Although, I wasn't nearly as thrilled with this week's readings, I am still impressed with Gaiman's ability to catch a reader in just a few sentences or pages. He really has the knack for writing short stories, because the grip he holds on the reader is immediate. I'm looking forward to next week's installation already!

11 comments:

Chris said...

I'm almost finished this book now and I am loving it! Bitter Grounds has been a favorite of mine, mostly because I live in New Orleans, so the scenes were painted perfectly in my head. You can tell that Mr. Gaiman has spent some time down here and that made it special.

I loved The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch! There is a graphic novel version of it (hardback) coming out in a couple of days!! I'll be picking that one up. Looking forward to it.

Stephanie said...

Chris - Yeah! I didn't know you were reading this one right now!! I have to tell you, I had you in mind when I was reading Bitter Grounds yesterday!

Like I said, these weren't my favorites. But they were still good. I'm trying to hold off reading The Monarch of the Glen. I know it's a continuation of Shadow from American Gods. I'm trying to read them in order!

Trish said...

You rock! I still have not touched my EAP short story book since that first week. Maybe tonight since hubby is out of town...but it is Dancing with the Stars. :) Glad you are liking this book so much--and hopefully next week's are as good as the first!

Stephanie said...

Trish - Yeah...I tried Poe. Just couldn't get into it. Maybe later on, I'll pick it up again. Right now, I'm just enjoying Gaiman!! Have fun with Dancing with the Stars!

Nicola said...

I'm really enjoying these installments too! Keepsakes and Treasures has me intrigued! Looking forward to next week.

Stephanie said...

Nicola - Thanks! In fact, I'm enjoying it so much, I may have to keep up Short Story Sundays (probably on Monday!) for awhile. Once I finish this one, there are more Gaiman stories to be read in Smoke and Mirrors. Then maybe I can revisit Stephen King shorts!

Bookfool said...

Stephanieeeee,

You are so not helping!!! Now, I want to read Fragile Things. If you saw my Wish List, you'd die of fright. Sigh. Excellent reviews, babe. Now, just quit that.

jean pierre said...

i'm too afraid to even read this book! you had me at "hello".

jean pierre said...

arg! i actually meant to say i was too afraid to even read the review!!

what a fewl i am....

Stephanie said...

Bookfool - Thanks!! I've been very impressed with most of the stories in this one!! Can't wait till Sunday!

JP - You crack me up!! And I think this is a book you should definitely read. Can't wait to see what you have to say about World War Z!

Nymeth said...

A great review of a great little group of stories. I completely agree that the way he sucks the reader in with just a few lines is amazing.

I first read Strange Little Girls online around the time the album was released, and I enjoyed it more then than when I re-read it in "Fragile Things". It does feel a bit out of place there.