Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Salon: Fragile Things Readalong - Week 3

September seems to passing by very quickly! I am not sure how it can possibly be week 3 of the read along already, but it is! 

Another mixed bag in terms of reactions from me to this week's stories:

Going Wodwo - Yay! A poem I liked, mainly because I think the idea of shedding everything leaving "the way of words to walk the wood" definitely holds some appeal! Shedding all the stresses of modern life to take a moment to just be!

Bitter Grounds - I liked the idea of this one and I like the setting which was mainly New Orleans, just not sure of the execution! I am not sure why exactly, but I suspect because there was a grittier darkness to this book! Sure other stories in the collection have been dark, but none before now have had such edginess and rawness to them.

Other People - Maybe I am a bit contrary because it was that similar gritty darkness with heavy themes that permeates both this and the next stories and yet I liked them both better than I did  Bitter Grounds! The opening line is very clever -' "Time is fluid here," said the demon. ' At first, it might seem a little convenient and a little trite, but by the end of the story it actually has told you far more about the story than you would possibly have thought!

Keepsakes and Treasures - When a story is titled as this one is, you could be forgiven for think that it sounds kind of light and fluffy and happy. You would be wrong. The story starts out when we meet a teenager who has taken it upon himself to seek revenge on those people who did his mother wrong. He then works his way up to be the key man for one of the richest men in the world. Not the richest men that everyone knows about, but the one who really have money! Survival of the fittest, dog eat dog world - whichever cliche you might choose to use is fitting in this world!

Because I like to reread the introduction to each story before reading it through, I also had the opportunity to reread The Mapmaker story that was embedded in the Introduction. I have liked quite a few of the other short stories in the book but that is still be right up there with my favourites so far!


  1. I own this book. Maybe I should read it along with you...

  2. I'm embarrassed to admit that I've not read anything by Neil Gaiman, but I follow him on Twitter. Boy, do I need to change that! I'm participating in The Lantern readalong for the RIP, I should have joined this one as well.

  3. The poem this week wasn't my favorite, but I'm glad you liked it. :) I agree, it would be nice to just take a time-out from life!

  4. I'm right there with you on being in love with "Wodwo" (well, you said like, but I choose love!), and also agree with New Orleans being a great place to set "Bitter Grounds". However, I just really didn't understand the story, so I couldn't quite get behind it. I can't believe next week is already, like, half done with the read-a-long. Can't wait to hear what you think!
    - Chelsea

  5. I am so intrigued by this book, and your reactions to it seem to indicate that it would be something that would really exciting for me. I am very interested in trying this one for myself, and really enjoyed this portion of your review of the book!

  6. After reading this week's pieces, I certainly didn't expect each of the readers to have such varied responses to them! And yet, there wasn't anything that was universally loved or hated. This seems to be the best part of a group read!

  7. Kristen, it is interesting that people see different things from the same text. I guess it really shows how much people bring of themselves to the reading experience.

    Zibilee, it is fun to read, and to have it spread out over several weeks and take the time to ingest each story.

    Chelsea, I couldn't quite get into Bitter Grounds either.

    Dooliterature - I guess that is what weekends are for, but it really doesn't feel like time out most of the time.

    Natalie, I am looking forward to The Lantern readalong too.

    Laurel, it has been a fun readalong.

    Gautami, join in! Next week's stories are Good Boys Deserve Favours, Strange Little Gilrs and Harlequin Valentine.

  8. I think the ideas in "Going Wodwo" definitely have strong appeal. I wish I had connected with it more. It is almost like I am really fond of the ingredients but am not as fond of the finished product.

    I think similar things could be said for the way I feel about "Bitter Grounds". There is a fascinating bit of mystery with the man met in the hotel and his disappearance. The idea of taking on another life is intriguing and I think that part of the story was executed well. But I don't think the darker, magical elements of the story were integrated or explored fully enough to make this a stand out story. Instead I was disappointed by it.

    "Other people" is a well-written and effective story for the message it conveys and while I appreciate that aspect of it I cannot consider it a story I enjoy.

    And I've been vocal in my disgust for "Keepsakes and Treasures". While I appreciate seeing smaller characters from longer stories expanded upon, this one was too into shock value graphic descriptions for me to find any enjoyment in it. I think Gaiman has proven over the years that he can very effectively create dark, evil and even nasty villains without resorting to the more lurid descriptions and I am not fond of the stories where he drops back into this kind of what I consider "lesser" writing.

  9. I actually enjoyed "Bitter Grounds," but I do agree that it would have been nice if the magic would have been developed a bit more. There were so many loose ends and unanswered questions. I did like the way that it ended though.

  10. I was disappointed with these stories. I was just sort of 'meh'...

  11. I loved going Wodwo, and you're right: there's something appealing about just escaping into the woods and "becoming one with nature," even though the reality of it is that I'd be dead, probably, within 3 days. I found Bitter Grounds confusing, but not so confusing that I didn't like it. I've decided Neil Gaiman really wants us to turn his stories into whatever we want, fill in the gaps, so to speak. I respected Other People, although I can't say I enjoyed it. I struggled most with Keepsakes and Treasures. Still, I could find good things to say about all these stories.

  12. September *is* flying by!

    Is this the time to admit that I haven't yet read anything by Neil Gaiman? I enjoy short fiction, so maybe this collection is the place to start ...

  13. Dawn, he is certainly a very versative writer so there are lots of different things for you to try! I haven't read nearly enough of him really.

    Emily, I am pretty sure my survival skills aren't that good either so I would probably last 3 days too.

    Kailana, glad it wasn't just me!

    Bookswithoutanypictures, it is interesting seeing how everyone reacts differently to the same story!

    Carl, I love that analogy of being fond of the ingredients but not of the final result.



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