Sunday, September 11, 2011
Fragile Things Readalong - Week 1
The idea is that over the course of the 8 weeks each participant will read four of the short stories/poems and comment on them accordingly. Below are my thoughts on this week's reads.
Introduction - I must confess that as I saw the list of items to be read I was a little perplexed! I do love reading where the inspiration for particular stories came from, so from this perspective I was happy to be reading it, but before you actually read the stories didn't really feel right! It was a lovely surprise then to find that hidden inside the introduction is a story - The Mapmaker. I have read a couple of Neil Gaiman books before (not nearly enough though) but no short stories. I have also heard him speak on podcast interviews etc, so in the story I could clearly hear his voice as though he was reading to us.
In the Introduction there is quite a lot of name-dropping. To be fair though, if I happened to end up in a room with Neil Gaiman at some point in time I am pretty sure I would tell anyone who listens! Of the stories that we read this week, I really liked the way he described that the story October in the Chair came about.
I will be sure to be revisiting the intro as we read through the book!
Having said that it felt a bit odd, I think having read the introduction actually gave me more of a clue as to what I was looking for in
A Study in Emerald -Whilst I am familiar with Sherlock Holmes in a pop culture reference kind of way, I really haven't read anything from HP Lovecraft. These two different styles provided inspiration for this story which features the investigation of a prince who is one of the favourite nephews of Queen Victoria who....well, I don't think I should say much more. I really liked that the narrative travelled forward in what seemed like a very straight forward linear fashion and then, wham, the story was changed and then again at the end!
The Fairy Reel - I read across a lot of genres but poetry is one of the ones that I do neglect! I read this three times and can't decide if I didn't like it because it isn't that great a poem, or if I just don't get it because I am not a poetry read. Given that it is written by Neil Gaiman and read by, well, me, I think it is only fair to go with me being the one to blame in this scenario!
October in the Chair - Of the reading for this week, this is my favourite story! I have long been a fan of the story within a story concept, but I am not sure that I would have thought that it was possible to have two fully realised stories in a short story like this. The story starts with the months of the year coming together for what appears to be a semi-regular meeting, each personified with strong personality traits and identities. There are procedures to be followed (some of the months are more concerned with the importance of these than others) with each story expected to tell the others a story that they haven't heard before. The nested story is of a young boy who is known as Runt in his family and who decides to run away and ends up in the local graveyard. There are clear correlations between this nested part of the story and the story that Gaiman gave us in The Graveyard Book, and he acknowledges that this story was written with that then future book in mind.
There is a Mr Linky over at Stainless Steel Droppings where you can find links to other thoughts about these four books. Come back this time next week for discussion of four more stories from this collection.