Monday, February 18, 2008

My first, my last, my only Gaiman

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders
Neil Gaiman.

At heart, I'm a follower. Although I profess to be a true individual who chooses the road not taken and all that, such posturing is often a front. Well I know there is comfort in conformity.

Such were my thoughts when I purchased my first-ever Neil Gaiman book, Fragile Things.

For the record, I want to like Neil Gaiman. Everyone else seems to. Everywhere I turn, yet another person is singing Gaiman's praises. With nary a naysayer to be found, I [naively] assumed Gaiman was for me, too. I mean, shit -- Gaiman and Tori Amos (one of my favorite musicians) share an affinity for one another. That must count for something, I reasoned.

And so I purchased Fragile Things with all the optimism of a child at Christmas -- and it's not surprising I would feel that way: Fragile Things is billed as a collection of "short fictions and wonders," so I felt I was in for an amazing ride. I mean, a collections of wonders?!? Count me in. I'm always up for a little wondering.

In reality, Fragile Things seems more like a collection of all the crap that Gaiman either couldnt a) develop fully; b) turn into a novel; or c) couldn't peddle anywhere else. And while I know this isn't literally true, as many of these stories were previously published elsewhere or have won awards, I can't shake the feeling that Fragile Things is a bunch of unfinished odds and ends that didn't fit anywhere else.

The poems? Kinda silly. The stories? Somewhat interesting, at best; at worst, almost astounding in their crudeness. The majority felt as though Gaiman had grown tired of them quickly, sending them off to the publisher to avoid looking at them any longer. If that's the case, perhaps Gaiman is as tired of Gaiman as I am.

Hmm. We might be kindred spirits, after all.

Gaiman fans might argue that this was not the best introduction to the author. While I'm sure that's true, I don't see myself trying again any time soon.

In a nutshell: Why all the fuss? I don't get it.

Bibliolatry Scale: 2 out of 6 stars

14 comments:

Edwin Hesselthwite said...

Well Said Biblio...

While I will admit the only Gaiman I've read recently was "American Gods" I found it such a resounding stinker that I'm off him for the duration.

I.. Just.. Don't... GET IT.

Sean said...

This really confirms my suspicions about Gaiman. Everyone says he's wonderful, but I've never read anything he's written because I have an aversion to science fiction. Though I have a deep affection for Tori as well (some, including my husband might call it an obssession) I think I'll pass on Mr. Gaiman.

Edwin Hesselthwite said...

There are many, many, many, good reasons to dislike Gaiman... The leaden prose, the amateurish structure, the books that are 10 times longer than they need to be, or so short they don't do justice to the story.

An "aversion to science fiction" is not one of them... Heathen.

Anne Brooke said...

Must admit I can't get into it either. Glad it's not just me ...

A
xxx

raych said...

Hear hear. Life's too short and there are too many great authors to waste time on ones that don't strike you right.

Sean said...

Dear Edwin,

When I said I have an aversion to science fiction it is mainly because I often find enthusists of that particular genre to be pretentious jerks. Thanks for proving me wrong. I stand corrected.

Anonymous said...

I can relate. I've always wondered what the big to-do was about, as well.

Sam Houston said...

Just when I was starting to think I was the only reader in the world who didn't care for Gaiman's work...whew. I feel better already. I've never understood the fuss about him or the tremendous success he seems to be having.

mistercrowley said...

well...I'll admit Fragile Things was possibly a bit of a waste of money and time....though I remain a Gaiman fan (minus, of course, Fragile Things and the Beowulf screenplay...that one was worse).

Irish said...

The only Gaiman I've read so far is Stardust...and the more I think back on it the more I enjoyed the movie version better. The book also didn't leave me gasping and wanting more Gaiman...I think that he might be more hype and propaganda than anything else.

Sarah G said...

You've received the "You Make My Day Award!"
I always enjoy reading your reviews.

Stephanie said...

Oh...I'm sad!! I actually love Gaiman!! But to each his own. That's what makes the world go round!!

Sorry you didn't like it!! (Don't read my next glowing review of Gaiman!! It's coming soon!)

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I have my doubts about his work of late, but I really liked Stardust and Coraline. If you ever feel like giving him another chance, maybe you could try one of those.

Riki said...

Gaiman is good due to his versatility. If you like one of his book, you might hate another one, because the subject and writing style is usually pretty different. I love The Graveyard Book, and enjoyed Stardust and Neverwhere. I can't say I liked any of his other works. Most people, I think, consider his graphic novel Sandman to be his best work. You can always give him another try by reading the short graphic novel Murder Mysteries, about the first murder in heaven, before the Fall.