Sunday, October 02, 2011

Fragile Things Readalong - Week 4

After this week's reading we have now passed the half way point in the book, and indeed, the half way point of the readalong! My overall reaction to the four stories this week was that they were all better than last weeks!

One of the stories that was in the reading for this week wasn't actually in the edition of the book I was reading. I managed to listen to an audio version of the story which I found on Lastfm.

The four stories this week were:

Good Boys Deserve Favors - A couple of weeks ago we read another story which was based on real life and I lamented that I missed the imagination. Turns out it wasn't the lack of imagination that was the issue, it was the story itself, because I loved this story. It had great heart and charm and innocence! Originally this story was inspired by a Lisa Snellings statue of a man holding a double bass, and this image stuck with me through the story. A bit of a search on Lisa's blog found a similar image and it is gorgeous. Well worth taking a look at!

The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch - this is the story that wasn't in my book. I have long known that I have enjoyed listening to Neil Gaiman narrate his own stories (especially after listening to him read The Graveyard Book) and listening to him tell this story just reinforced that! Gaiman takes a group of people to a circus (no animals at this circus) and treats the characters to a nightful of garish experiences. There are a couple of lines at the beginning of the narration that I really liked but whilst I could listen no problem at work, I seem to be having some issues with listening at home so that I can find the quote again! This story has also been turned into a graphic novel which might be interesting to read too.

Strange Little Girls - If there is one story in the book that we have read so far which is representative of the title of the collection, Fragile Things, then it is this one. In fact, rather than being a coherent beginning to end tale it is rather a series of vignettes about a collection of individuals. My favourite was the one called Heart of Gold which had a very clever circular narrative. The one that made me gasp was Bonnie's Mother which was about domestic violence..."Now that she is dead, she tries to remember only the love. She imagines every blow a kiss, the makeup that inexpertly covers the bruises, the cigarette burn on her thigh - all these things, she decides, where gestures of love."

The final lines of the narrative - " The changes from where you are standing. Words can wound and wounds can heal. All of these things are true."

Harlequin Valentine - I thought there was an interesting echo between this and Other People from last week's stories with the idea of the roles being cyclical. This was a better story for me though.

It is Valentine's Day and the Harlequin is looking for his Columbine, and he has chosen Missy. At one point The Harlequin says "Oh, Harlequin in love is a sorry creature. I wonder what she will do with my gift. Some girls spurn my heart; others touch it, kiss it, caress it, punish it with all manner of endearments before they return it to my keeping. Some never even see it." I am pretty sure that he wasn't expect Missy to treat his heart the way that she did!

I must confess I didn't know the mythology relating to the Harlequin and therefore may have lacked some of the reference points for this story.


  1. OHHH!!! I didn't realise that they were short stories!! I thought that fragile things was a full novel thingy! oops

  2. That's weird you were missing a story. I have finished the stories for this week, but haven't done my post yet. I hopefully will get to it soon!

  3. Kailana, different editions in different countries apparently.

    Book Worm Rebel, yep it's a short story collection.

  4. Every time you post about this collection, I get an itchy trigger finger and want to add it to my collection. It sounds as if there are a lot of pluses to this collection, though I know very little about the myth of the Harlequin.

  5. Zibilee, I am really enjoying the book so far. The readalong is certainly enhancing that experience too though!

  6. I really like Neil Gaiman but haven't read this yet - love hearing about these short stories, they sound delightful in all the best Gaiman-y ways.

  7. A lot of them are delightful in Gaiman-y ways!