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Bitter grounds (Fragile things week 3) by

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"Come back early or never come."
–Neil Gaiman - Bitter grounds

Spoilers ahead!

What makes you want to abandon your life? To chuck it all and just leave? In Bitter grounds we are never told exactly why the narrator leaves his home, but it certainly has something to do with a woman. Whatever his reason our protagonist just up sticks and drives off. Living in his car until he decides he really needs a bath. So he checks into a motel. While there he encounters Jackson Anderton, a man who needs some help, so our narrator plays the role of the Good Samaritan and drives him to his broken down car so Anderton can meet the the tow-truck. Only he has forgotten his wallet.

Fragile things - Neil Gaiman

Fragile things - Neil Gaiman

So back to the motel goes our protagonist to collect the wallet and return to the car and Anderton. Only there is no one there when he returns. Only some smashed in windows on the car, a briefcase with some papers, but no one around.

So continuing to abandon his life the narrator takes off, with the wallet and Anderton’s conference paper on zombie girls.

So far so intriguing. A lot of unknowns going on in this story so far. And more to come

He drives to New Orleans, and all the hotels are booked out, so he uses Anderton’s name to get his room. And finds himself getting to know some of the other anthropologists. Going for a night out with one, and having yet another strange encounter.

But again with the not knowing anything. I often enjoy being thrown into a world and a story not knowing what is going on, but usually there is some sort of hint and explanation along the way. None here really. There are zombies and drug addicts, but while all combine to create a great atmosphere, there is more to an entertaining story that atmosphere. I liked the narrator, but I didn’t get to know him enough. I suppose I just needed something more to grab me.

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4 Comments

  • 25 September 2011 - 6:28 pm | Permalink

    I agree about wanting to know more about the narrator! I wanted to know what made him run away from home, and his thoughts on what was happening. He never really seemed all that scared, even after driving back to the Anthro professor's car and finding it destroyed and the professor missing…

    He was an intriguing fellow! Maybe if I knew more about him, I'd understand the story better, haha.
    Anna´s last blog post ..Group Read: Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman, Week 3
    Anna´s last blog post ..Group Read: Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman, Week 3

    • 25 September 2011 - 6:54 pm | Permalink

      That's what I think after reading a lot of short stories, I want to know more about this, but I suppose that's the thing, a short story is only a flash. And sometimes that flash can be brilliant in and of itself, but a lot of the time it only gives a hint and you need to go find a torch and light up the whole thing ;)

  • 26 September 2011 - 8:51 pm | Permalink

    I was also curious about the other girl in the bar. I felt like the narrator was in an almost dream-like or delirious state while he was in New Orleans, because the female characters all seemed to play off of each other and disappear when they were no longer necessary. Actually, come to think of it, all of the minor characters tended to do that…
    Grace´s last blog post ..Fragile Things Groupread, Part 3
    Grace´s last blog post ..Fragile Things Groupread, Part 3

    • Nathalia
      22 January 2014 - 10:19 pm | Permalink

      "People come into your life for a reason" I think that's why the minor characters feel like they're only filling up a role in someone else's story and disappear when no longer needed. Also, I think it's interesting that at the beginning he states that he wish he could just walk out of life as easily as walking out the door and it's pretty much what he does in the end. I don't completely get the story, too. But there are many aspects of it I really like.

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