Sunday, October 30, 2011

Fragile Things Group Read Week 8

The Day the Saucers Came


Inventing Aladdin

The Monarch of the Glen

from: Gaiman, Neil. Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders. New York: William Morrow, 2006.

And then we came to the end. I've so enjoyed this R.I.P. group read, organized by Carl. It's been wonderful to read through a collection such as this so slowly, and it's also been wonderful to read all the different reactions to what's in it (when I could get the chance. The past couple of weeks have been difficult, as I've not been home with steady Internet access, but I've done my best and can't wait to catch up when I get home next week). These last four were a great way to end the read. I enjoyed all of them.

The Day the Saucers Came
A brilliant poem for anyone who's ever spent any time wishing the phone would ring and a certain someone would be on the other end of it. I love it all the more for the fact that I didn't see that coming at. all.

Okay, so this is not a story to hand to your vegetarian friends. However, if you love food, love the idea of belonging to an epicurean club, love the phoenix, and love the way Neil Gaiman can take the ordinary and make it extraordinary, then this is the tale for you (or, at least, it was for me, who loves all those things). He wrote this story as a birthday present for his oldest daughter, and one of the fun things about reading it for me was speculating on how many father-daughter in-jokes he might have included and what they might have been. A story that was great fun, all around and in every way.

Inventing Aladdin
You see, we all need to make up stories to survive. Only, Neil Gaiman says that much more eloquently in this little gem of a poem than I ever could. You see, also, some of us are better at putting the words together for our stories than others are.

The Monarch of the Glen
I really mustn't put off reading American Gods any longer. I loved this novella, featuring AG's Shadow, with its opening quote from Angela Carter (another one not to put off reading any longer,) from the get-go. The contemporary spin on Beowulf was done beautifully (of course. Would Gaiman do it any otherwise in a story? Although, full disclosure here, you can read what I thought about his movie version of same, here, if you'd like. I did, eventually come around to the wonderful graphic novel version by Gareth Hinds). Grendel and his mother are just perfect in this tale. The evil Mr. Alice shows up again here, but he's a bit less repellent than he was in Keepsakes and Treasures, probably only because we didn't get as many details about him in this tale. He's more of a mystery. This is the novella to give to a friend who's never read Gaiman to show off his brilliance and what sheer joy it is to read him.

And that's it. Overall, a fine, fine collection, with a few I didn't like as much as others, but none I could completely dismiss, that just makes me want to read more Gaiman. My final note is that I highly recommend doing what I do: read each piece first and then listen to Gaiman read it. You won't be disappointed, I promise.


Carl V. said...

I know, the first time you read/hear The Day the Saucers Came you can't help but wonder "where is this going". The end is completely unexpected. And so sweet.

Sunbird is definitely not a vegetarian's delight. And I would imagine there are a lot of PETA people who wouldn't be thrilled either. Or I guess that should be PETMA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Mythological Animals. :)

Inventing Aladdin really is an elegant way to say a deceptively simple thing.

I agree with your assessment of Monarch of the Glen, it is a good example to give someone to show them just what Gaiman can do. I wasn't a big fan of the Beowulf animated show. Thankfully got to see it free with sneak preview tickets otherwise I would have been disappointed for spending the money.

And you are right, the pleasure of reading and then listening to Gaiman read these tales cannot be underrated.

Thanks so much for participating with the rest of us.

Your link was messed up in my site today so I deleted it and re-posted it.

Anonymous said...

I liked Monarch of the Glen so much better than Keepsakes and Treasures. I think that Smith and Mr. Alice make good bumbling villains in this one, and that I really don't want to know about the sordid details of the depths of their depravity because it changes them from fun bad guys to despicable human beings.

The Beowulf animated film was a big letdown.

GeraniumCat said...

By the time Beowulf came out I was quite certain I wasn't going to see it - I think we should definitely start PETMA (with Carl as first President?), because Grendel's mother must feel pretty aggrieved.

Yes, you absolutely must read American Gods. And aren't phoenixes just the best! I fell in love with the one in The Phoenix and the Carpet, so I thought Sunbird was wonderful.

Carl V. said...

We would definitely have to get after Gaiman. He must have some unresolved issues with unicorns too, based on Sunbird and the novel Stardust.

Emily Barton said...

Carl, oh, I just love the idea of PETMA. I just might have to write a story of my own...
I suppose if I could see Beowulf free, I curiosity might just get the better of me.

Bookswithout, no, I didn't want all those sordid details, either. Unfortunately, they were in the back of my mind. Once there, they don't really go away, do they?

GCat, oh, isn't the Phoenix in The Phoenix and the Carpet one of the all-time best characters in a children's book? I adore him!

Carl, again, oh, the poor sad unicorn. Maybe he should be the main character in my story. I could weave in something about the famous tapestries at The Cloisters museum in NYC.

Carl V. said...

I say go for it!