Picked up Neil Gaiman's Fragile Things at National Bookstore a couple of years back, for just PhP 350 more or less. My first Gaiman book. (We all have to start somewhere.) We figured we'll sample his short fiction first before diving into his novels. There something to be relished from the potent distillation of the short story form, and, man, in the hands of Neil Gaiman, the short story becomes a formidable force, a pure experience.
The stories in Fragile Things do a good job in sending chills down your spine. Which is remarkable because they're supposed to be just short stories, takes one sitting to read, very low-risk and low-pressure. Yet after each story, we have to look up from the book, check the room we're in to see if the world was still all right as we left it.
There's a great variety of style here, one could almost say they're on the verge of being gimmicky. But good thing there's more of the really good ones.
Our favorite stories in the collection:
The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch. (Notice he didn't simply say Disappearance. He meant Departure.)
The Problem of Susan (an explanation of why Susan, of the Narnia Chronicles, went astray)
Instructions (a poem, actually, steeped in fairy tale trope)
Closing Time (the story of a playhouse in the middle of a clearing, whose door simply closed in on three boys, leaving their other friend behind, alone and pondering the whole thing. Perhaps the most disquieting story in the book.)
Monarch of the Glen (set in the mysterious expanses of Scotland, this novella length story picks up where American Gods left off. We were thrust into a feverish anticipation of a party, whose magnitude has frightful consequences.)