Gaiman is a writer of rich and vivid imagination. This collection of short stories, short fiction and poems demonstrate his talent on every page. Hovering between reality and fantasy he has created a distinctive world peopled with ordinary people, young and old, who meet up with ghosts, zombies and other creatures. With great skill and ease Gaiman creates credible characters and compelling scenarios.
Some "fragile things" describe dreams, others move effortlessly from actuality to visions of otherworldliness often taking the reader by surprise. Most of the stories in this collection have a serious, some a macabre, side to them. At the same time, humour and irony are natural companions. There is the young boy, ignored by his family and peers, who finally meets a friend and companion as he runs away to start a new life. A Harlequin character reinvents himself with every real life Valentine heart he sends to an object of his desire. Storytelling is a theme for many of the characters in the collection. In "October in the Chair" we listen in as every month competes for the best story that the others haven't heard before. Many of the stories were inspired by other writers and friends and fiction pieces were written for their magazines or anthologies.
While each of the stories has been published previously, it is a treat to have them collected in one volume. Every piece stands by itself, yet, when read contiguously each adds elements to a whole creating for the reader a complex tapestry of imaginary lives. Anybody who has read other Gaiman books will welcome his volume. For newcomers, Fragile Things is a great introduction to his work. [Friederike Knabe]