Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders

Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders

by Neil Gaiman

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Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman

A mysterious circus terrifies an audience for one extraordinary performance before disappearing into the night . . .

Two teenage boys crash a party and meet the girls of their dreams—and nightmares . . .

In a Hugo Award–winning story, a great detective must solve a most unsettling royal murder in a strangely altered Victorian England . . .

These marvelous creations and more showcase the unparalleled invention and storytelling brilliance—and the terrifyingly dark and entertaining wit—of the incomparable Neil Gaiman. By turns delightful, disturbing, and diverting, Fragile Things is a gift of literary enchantment from one of the most original writers of our time.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060515232
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 02/09/2010
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 93,947
Product dimensions: 4.30(w) x 6.84(h) x 1.08(d)

About the Author

Neil Gaiman is the author of The Graveyard Book, which is the only novel to be awarded both the Newbery and Carnegie Medals. He is also the winner of the Nebula and Hugo Awards.


Minneapolis, Minnesota

Date of Birth:

November 10, 1960

Place of Birth:

Portchester, England


Attended Ardingly College Junior School, 1970-74, and Whitgift School, 1974-77

Read an Excerpt

Fragile Things

Short Fictions and Wonders

By Neil Gaiman

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2006

Neil Gaiman

All right reserved.

ISBN: 0060515228

Chapter One

A Study in Emerald

I. The New Friend

Fresh from Their Stupendous European Tour, where they performed before several of the crowned heads of Europe, garnering their plaudits and praise with magnificent dramatic performances, combining both comedy and tragedy, the Strand Players wish to make it known that they shall be appearing at the Royal Court Theatre, Drury Lane, for a limited engagement in April, at which they will present My Look Alike Brother Tom!, The Littlest Violet Seller and The Great Old Ones Come (this last an Historical Epic of Pageantry and Delight); each an entire play in one act! Tickets are available now from the Box Office.

It is the immensity, I believe. The hugeness of things below. The darkness of dreams.

But I am woolgathering. Forgive me. I am not a literary man.

I had been in need of lodgings. That was how I met him. I wanted someone to share the cost of rooms with me. We were introduced by a mutual acquaintance, in the chemical laboratories of St. Bart's. "You have been in Afghanistan, I perceive," that was what he said to me, and my mouth fell open and my eyes opened very wide.

"Astonishing," I said.

"Not really," said the stranger inthe white lab coat, who was to become my friend. "From the way you hold your arm, I see you have been wounded, and in a particular way. You have a deep tan. You also have a military bearing, and there are few enough places in the Empire that a military man can be both tanned and, given the nature of the injury to your shoulder and the traditions of the Afghan cave folk, tortured."

Put like that, of course, it was absurdly simple. But then, it always was. I had been tanned nut brown. And I had indeed, as he had observed, been tortured.

The gods and men of Afghanistan were savages, unwilling to be ruled from Whitehall or from Berlin or even from Moscow, and unprepared to see reason. I had been sent into those hills, attached to the--th Regiment. As long as the fighting remained in the hills and mountains, we fought on an equal footing. When the skirmishes descended into the caves and the darkness then we found ourselves, as it were, out of our depth and in over our heads.

I shall not forget the mirrored surface of the underground lake, nor the thing that emerged from the lake, its eyes opening and closing, and the singing whispers that accompanied it as it rose, wreathing their way about it like the buzzing of flies bigger than worlds.

That I survived was a miracle, but survive I did, and I returned to England with my nerves in shreds and tatters. The place that leech like mouth had touched me was tattooed forever, frog white, into the skin of my now withered shoulder. I had once been a crack shot. Now I had nothing, save a fear of the world beneath the world akin to panic, which meant that I would gladly pay sixpence of my army pension for a Hansom cab rather than a penny to travel underground.

Still, the fogs and darknesses of London comforted me, took me in. I had lost my first lodgings because I screamed in the night. I had been in Afghanistan; I was there no longer.

"I scream in the night," I told him.

"I have been told that I snore," he said. "Also I keep irregular hours, and I often use the mantelpiece for target practice. I will need the sitting room to meet clients. I am selfish, private, and easily bored. Will this be a problem?"

I smiled, and I shook my head, and extended my hand. We shook on it.

The rooms he had found for us, in Baker Street, were more than adequate for two bachelors. I bore in mind all my friend had said about his desire for privacy, and I forbore from asking what it was he did for a living. Still, there was much to pique my curiosity. Visitors would arrive at all hours, and when they did I would leave the sitting room and repair to my bedroom, pondering what they could have in common with my friend: the pale woman with one eye bone white, the small man who looked like a commercial traveler, the portly dandy in his velvet jacket, and the rest. Some were frequent visitors, many others came only once, spoke to him, and left, looking troubled or looking satisfied.

He was a mystery to me.

We were partaking of one of our landlady's magnificent breakfasts one morning, when my friend rang the bell to summon that good lady. "There will be a gentleman joining us, in about four minutes," he said. "We will need another place at table."

"Very good," she said, "I'll put more sausages under the grill."

My friend returned to perusing his morning paper. I waited for an explanation with growing impatience. Finally, I could stand it no longer. "I don't understand. How could you know that in four minutes we would be receiving a visitor? There was no telegram, no message of any kind."

He smiled, thinly. "You did not hear the clatter of a brougham several minutes ago? It slowed as it passed us--obviously as the driver identified our door, then it sped up and went past, up into the Marylebone Road. There is a crush of carriages and taxicabs letting off passengers at the railway station and at the waxworks, and it is in that crush that anyone wishing to alight without being observed will go. The walk from there to here is but four minutes. . . ."

He glanced at his pocket watch, and as he did so I heard a tread on the stairs outside.

"Come in, Lestrade," he called. "The door is ajar, and your sausages are just coming out from under the grill."


Excerpted from Fragile Things
by Neil Gaiman
Copyright © 2006 by Neil Gaiman.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Fragile Things 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 161 reviews.
sara_lusa More than 1 year ago
I'm really rather torn on this one. In many respects I love Neil Gaiman. He's an excellent writer with a wonderful twist of the imagination. And no one writes a delicately creepy story like he does. I enjoyed much of Fragile Things immensely. But I could really do without the occasional sexual perversions. The kind that sicken you and leave the after-images burned into your brain. So, it's up to you. There are some great stories and poems in there (several of which I'll probably bring to read around the campfire this summer), but I thought I'd give fair warning.
paganmeghan More than 1 year ago
Delicately crafted beautiful stories that resonate deeply. Unknown depths within. Every piece is a winner, but I specifically liked the Vampire Tarot, the Epicurean Club, and Strange Little Girls. He's one of the most gifted writers of this century and this collection only disappoints when it ends. Marvelous, literally filled with marvels. Wonderful, literally filled with wonders. Like an exquisite box of chocolates; a sensual journey in each bite but very different, each to each.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I adore Neil Gaiman and was deeply moved by this collection. I have often said Neil is a master storyteller and this stands as testament to that. His imagery is truly inspiring and beautiful. Some stories made me giggle childishly, others made me weep, others I had to read twice to fully comprehend their depth, some chilled me to the soul and others simply made me dream. The poetry was fun and wonderful. This is a must have book, not just for gaiman fans but anyone who simply enjoys good stories.
Mycroft More than 1 year ago
If you enjoy Ray Bradbury you will enjoy Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things: a short story collection for the unusual. There is a tale about two young men who meet the most unusual women at a party to Susan from C.L. Lewis's The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe to Strange Little Girls which pay homage to a song (peformed by Tori Amos). Some stories were a little to follow but in any collection there is always one or two that may leave the reader perplexed. A good read with the tale of the "Twilight Zone" thrown in.
bellypenguin More than 1 year ago
Great book by a great Author. I love everything Neil Gaiman has ever done.
KatrinaO More than 1 year ago
Some people always used to tell me that I was a bit odd with the things I like. :) Fragile Things is one of those things.. and I absolutely, terribly LOVE it. :) I am always blown away by Neil Gaiman’s works and this copy never failed me, yet again. :) Mesmerizing, chilling and bewilderedly eccentric. This definitely swept me off your feet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I'm a fan of short stories especially when I'm chasing a toddler. Easy to put down and come back to and jump right back in. Interedting enough to even hold my attention. Good read overall.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A beautiful group of short stories blending science fiction , fantasy, and the wonderment of life. Mr. Gaiman's voice and love of storytelling speaks through every one. These stories are a pleasure to read, eerily frightening, tender, and amazing .
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think this is the best collection I have read since Fitzgerald and Hughes
Guest More than 1 year ago
Mr. Gaiman shows us once again that he is the master of many mediums with his latest collection of short stories. Very highly recommended. I read each of the stories in utter awe.
tassid 5 months ago
First – legal stuff – I was given a copy of this book to review by William Morrow also part of Harper Voyager, who I review books for on occasion. The opinion written below is mine and mine to own. So I was thinking about book reviews and how in all honestly most of them are not done well. They give you the background of the book, talk about the author and then break it down in bits and pieces given you the good, the bad and the why was this even published opinions. And most times, I get very little from them. BUT and I say that loudly, there are useful tidbits and I sometimes go buy the book. I’m getting to the review, just hang with me. Neil Gaiman – pretty well-known. Been writing for years. Pretty darn good. Has huge amounts of fans, in fact, I think if I gave him a bad review, I may get trolled. So the question is, why review his books? Huge fan base, good writer, people can depend on him. Quick answer – in order for him to continue getting published he has to keep growing his base, he has to keep getting good reviews. If it went silent, well so would Neil. So, yeah, I guess book reviews (at least good ones) are essential. I’m getting there, just keep reading. I am a half and half fan of Gaiman’s. I loved American Gods, Anasai Boys and Good Omens is a top ten for me. I don’t care much for his other stuff. I can hear gasps across the universe. He can be very dark in his writing. But he’s got that Doctor Who British humor that I love. And he also wrote one of my fave episodes of Doctor Who – The Doctor’s Wife. So there you go – plug for the author. On with it already. To the book – Fragile Things (I do hope you pronounced it the right way. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.) When you buy this book, because you will, YOU MUST READ THE INTRODUCTION. It is lovely. It is Neil. You feel like you are sitting in a coffee shop in some quaint town and it’s raining and he is sitting across from you and telling you things about his books and you just can’t stop staring and on some level you kind of fall in love. This book is short stories and poems (which you get the poems for free!). Some are really strange. Some a little bizarre. Some down right scary. Some are beautiful. Some are dark and disturbing. And most are just lovely. I’m not going to break it down and tell you about each one, he does that in the introduction and besides, I want to make you so intrigued you will go buy the book. I enjoyed this book. Truly. And I think you will as well. THAT IS – if you read fantasy/sci-fi/odd things, if you like dark humor, if you don’t mind a little blood, sex and rock and roll. You will like this book – if not, don’t read it and for god’s sake if you don’t like it, just leave it. Put it in one of those little free libraries for someone else to enjoy. Don’t go all stinky troll like and post terrible things. Mother always said – if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all. I know part of the reason they are promoting this is because of the movie – How to talk to Girls at Parties – which is a very short story in the book and not really a fave but cute. So there it is. Short, sweet and to the point. Good book – pick it up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love Gaiman and Fragile Things lives up to everything that I have come to love about him. Monarch in the Glen alone is worth it.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was the worst Neil Haiman book I ever bought.
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