This is just a round-up post of my thoughts after week three of the Fragile things read. As with any short story collection some of the stories worked for me, and other didn’t. I tend to like the more traditional stories, where we have somewhat of a resolution or development. The more open-ended and experimental, or just atmospheric I don’t enjoy so much.
This week’s stories were
- Going Wodwo – a poem I didn’t particularly get. my review
- Bitter grounds – zombies and atmosphere I enjoyed, but I needed a bit more resolution or explanation at various points. my review
- Other people – A horrible description of hell. I liked this one, but it isn’t one I would feel the need to reread. my review
- Keepsakes and treasures – this seemed to me to be “dark” and violent purely to be those things. I didn’t enjoy it. my review
The other blogs that are in the group read are:
Hi Fence! When I saw that you were reading this book, I decided to give it a try because it sounded intriguing and because I love Gaiman's Sandman series so much. When I got it home from the liberry I thought it looked familiar, and the feeling grew as I read his intro and some of the stories… Turns out I had read it before! But to me, that doesn't say much for it because none of the stories were remotely memorable to me. I really like Gaiman–there's something fascinating about him, and he's a very skilled writer–but I just can't seem to hook into his storytelling (unless it's illustrated by incredible artists). So, for the second reread, I still felt a huge ho-hum.
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That's a pity, I really love me some Gaiman (not all though), but I know how it feels when you think you should be really enjoying something, but you aren't.
So many of us found the same things in these pieces and the only difference was whether that was our "thing" or not. Gaiman's range is really quite amazing. I would never guess that the author of Stardust could write American Gods. And there seems to be that divide within this collection.
Horses for courses I guess :)
But you have to give it to Gaiman, he is versatile. I rewatched stardust recently, and loved it. Must reread the book at some point. I think I have it around somewhere.
Wonderful Fence, your reviews pointed out what I've been trying to say on other sites in regards to Keepsakes and Treasures. You point out in your review of Other People that there is nothing "explicitly horrible" about the story and yet it is a horrifying story. Gaiman can do that very well and has done on several occasions in short stories and novels. Which makes stories like Keepsakes and Treasures inexplicable to me. I don't understand why someone with such an amazing imagination and skill with language like Gaiman feels the need to occasionally write stories with explicit, graphic descriptions of violent, abusive sexual relationships. Or at the very least why he feels the need to go into the shock-value detail that he does. These are the kind of stories of his that disgust me. Regardless of the effectiveness of the rest of the story I always feel like he is devolving to a more juvenile kind of storytelling. This is the kind of stuff I would have expected him to write in the early days breaking into more adult magazines and trying to get his name out there. Once he graduated to more beautiful and effective writing (like The Graveyard Book or even most of American Gods) why go back to this stuff? I just don't get it.
I'm glad there are poems in this collection as it has been wonderful to discuss poetry in general with a group of people. I think we are all, or almost all, in the same boat in that we have little exposure to poetry we like and even though we have all had different reactions to these poems it has been a real pleasure discussing them.
But is it really explicit, even in Treasures and Keepsakes? I mean, it is explicit in that it is mentioned that Mr Alice buys people for sex. And Smith is a paedophile, but it isn't like torture-porn or anything. Abusive sex is mentioned and the characters engage in it without it being completely in the readers face. So there is that. And it means I could actually finish the story, because if it had been that explicit I wouldn't. Too disgusting and I don't need to read about it.
As for why Gaiman returns to it? I suppose as an author characters and set-up come to you, and if you don't explore them you'll never know what they may have turned into.
And it has been great reading about every one else's views on the stories.
"Bitter grounds" sounds interesting. I am curious about the style of narration in the story. The review sounds interesting enough. And best of all, the story includes zombies and drugs in it.
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