While my penchant is obviously audio drama, I’m really an omnivorous listener and savor a good audiobook like a select single malt when the opportunity allows. Especially a really, really good audiobook, one where the stories enchant, the production shines, and the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Such an Audiobook is Neil Gaiman‘s Fragile Things. Now I come into this not being a huge fan of Gaiman’s work — 50 pages into Good Omens I tired of a “been here before” plot, and even his mighty American Gods left me disinterested in the course of the story barely halfway through. After hearing this startling, diverse, and grimly comic collection, I find myself wondering if I was thwacked on the head too hard while exploring his other works.
The marvelousness of this collection is due in no small part to the quality of Gaiman’s narration. He draws little subtleties out of his writing that eek out winces or smiles which another reader mighty overlook. His diction and pacing are in line with the best, and every story lulls, romps, soars, or collides with a flair that the gifted storyteller brings to the table.
The stories themselves are true gems, with the story of devilish identity-swapping in New Orleans, a Sherlock Holmes adventure gone awry, an inversion of the Narnia themes and countless others littered with sex, death, humor and twists. There are a few sentimental moments, a couple quite delightful ones, and many mind-bending and dark ones, and overall the collection revels in a sense of delight, playfulness, and love of story. All of which are qualities I enjoy.
For a break from straight radio drama, with unconventional stories and a rich teller, I’d heartily recommend Neil Gaiman’s Fragile Things. Now if only someone could do an adaptation of some!