Thursday 17 January 2008

67. Fragile Things

I picked up Fragile Things about a year ago, I think - in hardcover no less - because it promised a tale related to American Gods, which I read sometime in the last year and quite enjoyed.

The American Gods story - "The Monarch of the Glen" - was the last in this collection and it was well worth waiting for. It takes place two years after American Gods ends and after Shadow has been killed and reborn, making it clear to him finally that he is in fact a god and not a man. It's a sweet riff on the Beowulf story and in spite of Gaiman not entirely gracefully pointing that out mid-tale, I very much enjoyed it.

The rest of the "short fictions and wonders" this volume features are a mixed bag. I particularly enjoyed "A Study in Emerald" (an awesome mix between a detective story and an H.P. Lovecraft tale - I only wish it had continued after the shocking revelation) and "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" (poorly named, but a fascinating and attractive reconsideration of what alien colonization might comprise).

On the other hand, the several poems included here were just not compelling. In my humble and cranky opinion, the only people who can write really good ballads have been dead for either 800 years or 200 years. Gaiman was mostly aiming for the medieval style ballad rather than the Romantic, and I believe we both would have been better off if he hadn't tried at all. Hopefully someone he trusts will tell him so....

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