Sunday, October 16, 2011

Week in Review (37) and Short Story Sunday - Week 6

Random Thoughts

Yesterday I got it in my head that I was going to catch-up on my blog reading. Google Reader is still informing me I have 700 posts to go and that number will probably continue to get bigger. I commented on a lot of blogs, but I was so far behind I don't feel like I really made a dent. Chances are 'Mark all as Read' was clicked and I am getting ready to start fresh. This means that I miss out on things, but it is easier to keep up! So, if I haven't visited your blog lately... I'm really sorry! I really did try!

I am still finding myself with too many things on the go and not enough time to accomplish most of them. My reading continues to drag, I am behind in blogging reading, I was doing really well keeping up with all the posts for the R.I.P. challenge, but have fallen behind drastically, etc. That doesn't even count all the 'real life' things going on. We are getting a new roof on Monday and Tuesday, so my house will be in a bit of an uproar. I am just worried about the weather. The cc is freaking out with worry and I am hoping to hear the last of it come Tuesday. If it gets pushed back... So, wish for the sun!

Challenge News

I continue to work at the R.I.P. Challenge. Hopefully next week I will be able to say I finished Dracula and have moved on to something else...

Weekly Reads

219. Die for Me (Revenants Series, Book 1) by Amy Plum (Completed October 11, 2011)
220. Bossypants by Tina Fey (Completed October 11, 2011)
221. Little Princes: One Man's Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan (Completed October 11, 2011)
222. The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson (Completed October 15, 2011)
223. Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman (Completed October 15, 2011)

Weekly Posts

Friday Reads - 14th Edition

New Additions

Nothing this week...


Nothing this week...

I'm Not Her by Janet Gurtler
If I Tell by Janet Gurtler

Short Story Sunday - Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman - Week 6
In the introduction to Neil Gaiman's short story collection -- a wildly diverse assortment of horror, sci-fi, dark fantasy, poetry, and speculative fiction -- he explains the book's title: "Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds' eggs and human hearts and dreams, are fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks."

Noteworthy selections in this undeniably exceptional collection include the Hugo Award winning "A Study in Emerald," which deftly blends Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's late-19th-century England with gruesome Lovecraftian horror; the Locus Award winning "October in the Chair"; an homage to Ray Bradbury that features the months of the year personified; and "How to Talk to Girls at Parties," a tale featuring two oversexed teenagers from an all-boys school in South London who stumble into a party full of what they take to be hot chicks but are in reality alien tourists! Also included are a brilliant American Gods novella ("Monarch of the Glen") and "Strange Little Girls," a series of, well, strange very short stories that first appeared in a Tori Amos tour book.

Like his previous short story collection (1998's critically acclaimed Smoke and Mirrors), Gaiman's Fragile Things is anything but; this is a powerhouse compilation that proves once again that Gaiman is a true master of short fiction. It's fitting that he dedicates this collection to three short story icons -- Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, and Robert Sheckley.
Stories Read This Week:
My Life
Fifteen Painted Cards From a Vampire Tarot
Feeders and Eaters
Diseasemaker's Croup

My Life
This is another example of Neil Gaiman attempting to put everything possible in his short story collections. This is a story about a Sock Monkey that was included in a collection of photographs of Sock Monkeys. That is just strange, but whatever works. Anyway, Gaiman had to come up with a story about his and this is what he came up with. Apparently it was originally written in prose, but was changed for this collection to include line breaks. I am not sure what to say really. I didn't love this, but then I didn't hate it either. I can entirely see a man who has had a tough break sitting around a bar telling stories for the price of a beer. This actually happens all the time in novels and movies. I also agree with what Gaiman says in the introduction about this being able to go on forever. He will talk as long as their is a beer provided. I am not entirely sure what else to say about this.

Fifteen Painted Cards From a Vampire Tarot
This was different. The idea is to take 15 Tarot cards and write a little story about each of them. This is a vampire Tarot, though, so that means that each little story relates to something to do with vampires. For example, the first one is the Magician, and the little story goes like this:
They asked St. Germain's manservant if his master was truly a thousand years old, as it was rumored he had claimed.
"How would I know?" the man replied. "I have only been in the master's employ for three hundred years."
I thought this was creative. Gaiman talks in the introduction about finishing the deck and then having someone create pictures to go along with it. I think that is a wonderful idea.

Feeders and Eaters
This story was... disturbing. I quite like cats and the image of the one in this book didn't settle well with me. The idea of a person getting power and staying young from others is something that you see all the time in books and movies. As they continue to become younger, though, the person they are feeding off becomes older. This idea is developed in this story when a man encounters someone from his past at an all-night cafe. He didn't really want to talk to him at first, but when he does he gets a very interesting story. All he asked was what happened to his friend because I guess he was once great-looking and now he doesn't look well at all. I am also not entirely sure what I thought of this story. It is like the first one this week: I didn't hate it, but I didn't love it either. Apparently this story, according to the Introduction, was a nightmare for Gaiman. I can totally see it being a nightmare because it is a disturbing story.

Diseasemaker's Croup
Another story this week that I don't have a lot to say about it. It is basically a story about an imaginary disease about making imaginary diseases. It didn't do a lot for me. It might have been interesting in the collection it was originally published in because they were all about imaginary diseases, but in this collection it just seemed out of place and unmemorable. To say this little bit I had to reread the story because it made no lasting impression on me.

Other Posts:


  1. I just wrote basically the same thought about the last story in this week's Fragile Things section!

  2. Don't worry about clicking Mark All as Read... we all have to sometimes!

  3. It is frustrating to get behind, and it happens so quickly and easily. I have to do the "mark all read" button fairly often!

  4. Sometimes mark-as-read is necessary for one's sanity! I have blogs split into folders in my GR so that, if I only have a short time to read blogs, I can zero in on the ones I really want to keep up with. When I have more time, I go through and say hi to everyone. Good luck with everything that's going on!

  5. Okay, one: It's only going to take two days to replace your roof?! My husband and I were annoyed for at least a week by our roofers. Lucky!

    Two: I'm sad you didn't like these stories all that much, as I thought they were the best set since week one! I liked the sock monkey one because it was so ridiculous, and I especially liked the poor cat one because of the way Gaiman built up the story, where it's all normal at first and then just goes completely terrible, as nightmares often do.

    I hope next week works out better for you, reading and stories and new-roof-wise!

  6. I've gotten in the habit of doing a "mark all as read" every Sunday night just to start the week out fresh. I used to feel a little guilty about it, but it's gotten easier. Gotta make cuts somewhere.

    Fingers crossed things that getting easier for all of us!

  7. Here's wishing for sunny weather! I think you should just mark everything as read so that you can move on and get some of this pressure off of you.

  8. My Life is my favorite story this week and over time has become on of the stories I consider in the top tier of this collection. It is humorous and absurd and is the kind of situation I would want to keep going on. I know I'd be chipping in on the drinks just to hear the guy tell more stories. Works fantastic in the audio collection.

    As many years have passed since this collection came out I don't have much hope of Gaiman ever finishing the arcana, but I am happy with the short tarot stories he did write. I think that most of them are very effective and make me think that great longer short stories or even novels could be built around some of them. I'd love to see Gaiman write the SF/horror novel about the vampires that are sent off planet under the guise of searching out new future worlds for the expansion of humanity. Fun stuff.

    Feeders and Eaters is just the kind of horror story from Gaiman that I like to read. He doesn't go too far into the kind of gore that makes you feel dirty after reading it. It is disturbing, to be sure, but the kind that is fun to read on a cold dark night.

    Diseasemaker's Croup is fun to hear Gaiman read but by and large doesn't do a lot for me. It is okay to read once but after that I don't find myself longing to go over it again.

  9. I appreciate so much all the lovely comments you leave at my blog knowing I don't quite get over to visit you so much - ugh, I'm just piling on the pressure for both of us, huh?! :D I haven't even opened my GoogleReader in weeks... I need to revamp and organize it. Blogging, to me, evolves and it supposed to be fun so I just let the whims sway me where to visit until I break down and try to see EVERYONE! So. just have fun?!
    Back to books. I like your lil short story reviews. I never know how to review collections but you do a great job.
    Happy Third Week of October!

  10. I know what you mean about being so busy you can't keep up. I feel like I'm always playing catch up, and even then I don't succeed. Just do the best you can and have fun doing it!

    I need to break out my copy of Fragile Things. I am not sure when that will happen, but perhaps someday. LOL

    Take care, Kelly. Have a great week.

  11. I really enjoyed Fragile Things when I read it a few years ago. Enjoy your week!

  12. I know what you mean, there just aren't enough hours in the day. Thanks for stopping by my blog :)
    I hope all goes well with your new roof .
    I do want to read Fragile Things myself. The stories you mention sound interesting.

  13. **Marg: I saw that. Great minds think alike. :)

    **Ana: Yes, I just hate not at least visiting semi-regularly...

    **jenclair: I know. I shouldn't really worry about it, but I feel guilty sometimes.

    **Erin: Yes, I have my blogs split into folders, too, but I actually need to update them. There are a few blogs that should be on my main list and aren't...

    **Alison: um, no, the weather isn't cooperating, so I am just hoping they at least get the bad part done by the end of tomorrow...

    I am just feeling very 'blah' about the stories lately. I am not sure if it is the stories themselves, my general dislike of short stories, or a mood I am in...

    **Kim: Oh, that's a good idea. I should do my 'mark as read' on a schedule like that. I think I would feel less guilty because some weeks I will be caught up... Other weeks I won't be...

  14. **Vasilly: I did. :) I still feel bad when I do it, though!

    **Carl: I think I am going to have to reread this book in the future. I am a little worried my response to some of these stories is more of a mood thing than a general dislike of them.

    I really didn't get Diseasemaker's Croup. I read it originally and then I reread it for my post... I still didn't really know what to think or say.

    **Care: haha! Well, you are my 'blogs to read in this century' list, so I tend to get around to semi-regularly. :) Even then I have moments where even that is overwhelming, though... I hope you have a great October!

    **Wendy: I know, and I don't even have kids. I wouldn't accomplish anything if I did judging by how bad I am at basic living... Maybe next year we can attempt a buddy read... Again... :)

    **Jen: Thanks!

    **naida: Thanks for stopping by mine, too! I hope all goes well with the roof, too. Day one got mostly rained out... Evil weather!

  15. Are you going to be readathoning with us on Saturday?? I'm trying to get my email and GReader cleaned up before then. Trying to leave one comment and then mark all read. I wish I knew how people kept up with blogs--you seem to do a great job!


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