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Sunday, October 22, 2006

And she's not too sure about lighter-than-air travel, if it comes to that

I was chatting to my friend Doctor Dan last night, about what I was doing today, and being glum about the six hours of driving that I have to do to get to and from Madison when I need to get an article finished. And Dan said "It's only 45 minutes in a plane," and offered to fly me down in his plane. (Dan flew me all over Northern Minnesota and Wisconsin when I was researching American Gods.) So I shall be having a small adventure on my way to Peter Straub and Gary Wolfe and the Orpheum.

"If you blog about this," said my assistant Lorraine, "Can you say something about how your assistant Lorraine took this news remarkably well, all things considered?" By which she means, I think, that she has decided, after some discussion, not to form a human shield by lying on the driveway in order to stop me doing something so utterly foolish, and instead will spend the rest of the afternoon somehow magically keeping the plane in the air. Lorraine is unconvinced by planes at the best of times, and suspects that one day someone will discover that heavier-than-air travel is impossible.

In the meantime, a couple more Fragile Things reviews have arrived -- http://www.baltimoresun.com/features/booksmags/bal-id.bk.fragile22oct22,0,4994869.story?coll=bal-artslife-books

in which Victoria A. Brownworth concludes,

The singular characteristic tying each of these very disparate tales together - the whimsical and the grisly, the satirical and the profane, the outer space aliens and the literary (and literal) carnivores - is that they all come from the realm of the deeply dark. Readers will be reminded most in these stories of that master craftsman yet to be superseded, Ray Bradbury, to whom Gaiman dedicates this book (and his tale "October's Chair," in which the months of the year come to life, pays homage directly to Bradbury). Bradbury had the ability to cruise seamlessly between fantasy and sci-fi, horror and ghost tale. Few who have read him will forget such classics as The Martian Chronicles (Gaiman does a nice twist on that with "Girls at Parties"), The Illustrated Man or Something Wicked This Way Comes. Gaiman has that same ability to move from one genre-within-a-genre to another and not leave the reader who prefers horror to sci-fi, fantasy to realism, in the dust.

There is a commingling of styles and outre vignettes in Fragile Things that demands that the reader try yet another, then another, like alien canapes at a Trekkie party. These are gothic tales of high caliber and with Fragile Things, Gaiman appears to have yet another best-seller in the making.

and in the Lexington Herald Leader -- http://www.kentucky.com/mld/heraldleader/entertainment/books/15813835.htm -- Jim Grayson says (among other things),

And then, when you start to think Gaiman simply dips into one genre for this piece and another for that, he throws you a poem like The Day the Flying Saucers Came, in which not only do flying saucers invade, but the fairies are released, the gods go to war and the machines revolt. Go ahead and try to pigeonhole that.

But for all their fantastic, amazing or horrifying trappings, these are stories about people. We read about people so desperately bored with their lives that they'll try anything to spice things up. About adolescent boys trying to overcome their awkwardness in the face of that most fearsome of creatures: the adolescent girl. We read about love and loss and family and home.
And perhaps more than in his previous books, but never in a self-aggrandizing manner, we read about Neil Gaiman. He says at least one story is autobiographical, but several others have an intimate sense to them, suggesting that the author has been in these places before.


Also, here and there and in some unexpected places, we read about ourselves. Is that not the mark of "respectable" literary fiction?

Both of which reviews were pleasant things to read on a Sunday morning, but sort of frustrating when your head is not shaping the thing you're trying to write in the way you wish it would, and soon you have to get on a plane and talk about horror. ("You want horror... I'll give you horror. The deadline's tomorrow, that's blinkin' horror...")

And a few links to Fragile Things reviews I don't think I've posted -- here's Entertainment Weekly, -- http://www.ew.com/ew/article/review/book/0,6115,1537735_5_0_,00.html, and writer-editor Gavin Grant for Booksense at http://bookpage.com/0610bp/fiction/fragile_things.html, and this David Hebblethwaite one from Laura Hird's New Review site http://www.laurahird.com/newreview/fragilethings.html.

And next week I may finally get to see a cut (temp effects and temp music, but probably pretty much the film as it will be) of Stardust (http://www.stardustmovie.com/ but there's nothing new up there yet. Soon, though.) . Will report back when I've seen it.
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