Hey guys! I hope that everyone out here has seen October dawn as beautifully as it has here in the Midwest. With the exception of one quite toasty day here this week, it’s been cool and sunny and all kinds of wonderful with those glorious changing trees! One of these days, I’m going to make it out to New England for a real fall, but until then I’m perfectly content with what I’ve got! The stories for this week’s installment of Fragile Things by Neil Gaiman were, in my opinion, some of the best so far, although I seem to be among the few who really didn’t mind last week’s stories. This week we’re talking about “Good Boys Deserve Favors”, “The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch”, “Strange Little Girls”, and “Harlequin Valentine”. And while I was totally in love with three of the stories, “Miss Finch” really did nothing for me.
“Good Boys Deserve Favors”
I think I loved this one for many of the same reasons that I loved “Flints of Memory Lane”, because of it’s realism, it’s tone, and a lingering feeling, when done, of something hiding just below the surface. It’s a fictional example, I think, of what Neil does best! However, whereas “Flints” was more about seeing the horror in he minutia of the everyday, “Good Boys” is more about the magic of reality, or at least things that exist in the everyday. At least, I like reading it that way more.
I love the concept of music as magic, of there being almost a literal spirit than can overtake you and produce beautiful music through you. This is, I believe, what happens to the “I” of “Good Boys”, and it’s why he’s able to do
things with the bass that an experienced jazz bass player with hands as big as my head would not have done
I mean, that’s magic in the everyday if I’ve ever seen it. I also think Neil does a wonderful job of creating a character who is so beautifully ordinary, who sounds like I did when I was in the sixth grade and playing the violin in my elementary school orchestra. It’s because of this normalcy that the magic of the music is that much more extraordinary. Truly, I thought this was probably one of my two favorites of the week, and I just hope that everyone else loved it as much as I did!
“The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch
Alright. So. Here is what I got from this story. I’m BEGGING for someone who liked this story to enlighten me: couple eating sushi. Fake name, bitchy lady. Creepy circus-type haunted house freak show. Many rooms. Animals, magic jungle, no more lady.
That’s it! A total, total loss for me.
“Strange Little Girls”
This was definitely my other favorite story of this week. Because I love vignettes. And because I love Tori Amos. And because they succeeded in perfectly creeping me out, right as the weather was cooling off. It was the perfect story at the perfect time and I love when that happens!
I think that some of my favorite prose in the entire collection so fa has been in this story. Take, for example, the seven lines that is the first vignette, “New Age”:
She seems so cool, so focused, so quiet, yet her eyes remain fixed upon the horizon.
You think you know all there is to know about her immediately upon meeting her, but everything you think you know is wrong. Passion flows through her like a river of blood.
She only looked away for a moment, and the mask slipped, and you fell. All your tomorrows start here.
I mean, COME ON!!! That’s gorgeous, and while that’s not all it takes for me to love a piece of writing, it certainly helps. I also loved recognizing so many of the lines from the liner notes of Tori Amos’s CD by the same title. One of my college roommates was a huge Tori Amos fan, and turned me on to the lovely lady herself. She’s been a favorite ever since!
Some of my other favorite vignettes include “Silence”, “Time”, “Heart of Gold”, “Happiness”, and “Real Men”! Hehe 😀
This story was an interesting read for me. I loved it, but it made me sad. I was fascinated, but still get a little lost about the whole commedia dell’arte thing. I tried to wikipedia what I could, but am still having a tough time feeling comfortable saying I understood the full extent of the story. But, the good news and the blessing of it being a Gaiman story is that not fully understanding it didn’t keep me from loving it so, so completely!!!
I loved that the story started with the Harlequin pinning his real heart to the door as a valentine. There is something so grossly romantic about a gesture (emphasis on the grossly!) That he follows her all over town, spinning verse and sweets nothings in favor of his beloved Columbine I think is just the curran thing – there was something that totally drew me to the Harlequin and all if his charming, cocky swagger! 🙂
I also love that, in the end, Columbine and the Harlequin switch places. I seem to have read a number of stories like this recently (most Gaiman’s, some not!) and the idea is just fantastical and creepy enough to work. And here, it’s done with such humor that I couldn’t help but chuckle. The only problem I had with this story, in fact, is what happened after the switch!
The ending to this story was so heartbreakingly sad for me that I’m sure it’ll stick with me for a long, long time. The fact that this once magical, fun, spirited being is now living amongst the mundane, devoid of the skip and sparkle that made me love him so much to begin with. And the very end? When that single red diamond appears on “Pete’s” sleeve?! I lost it! It was so sad that I think that kept it from being one of my favorites. Not necessarily on it’s own merit, but in comparison to the other amazing stories we read this week!
Well, folks, that about wraps it up for my reflections on the fourth week of the read-a-long! In other bookish news, I’m finally going to get around to posting my latest Library Loot, which I actually recorded before Banned Books Week! I’m also glad to say that I have quite the little back-catalogue of books to talk about, so I’m looking forward to catching up on those this week! Thing with me and FBM are good, if boring, and I’m just enjoying the beautiful weather and the fabulous books! Hope that you’re enjoying your Sunday, however busy you are, and that this week is full of happy reading!