After finishing the epic tome that was Dracula, I was hungry for something shorter. Ever since then, I’ve been picking at Neil Gaiman’s collection of short stories, Fragile Things. 
I’m a big Neil Gaiman fan, but I’ve had this book on my shelf since May, and though I sat down to devour it almost immediately, I’ve been unable to get through it. Usually, when I can’t get through a book, I know the reason why within the first few pages, but Fragile Things eluded me. For months, I’ve returned to it every through weeks, picking it up and putting it down again and again.
Fragile Things is a quiet book with no obvious way in, far from the typical Gaiman novel. American Gods is a road trip book. Neverwhere is about place. Good Omens is funny. Stardust is a fairy tale. Fragile Things bills itself as a collection of “short fictions and wonders.” 
Short fictions I understand. But wonders? How do you read a wonder?
I thought at first that the “and wonders” was an attempt to mask the presence of poetry–as if poems were literary spinach–but the more I pick up Fragile Things, the more I think it’s something else.
The story-like objects (and poems) in Fragile Things are wonders in the same way that the act of stumbling on a spiderweb scribbled between blades of grass in the early morning is a wonder. You can’t devour it or bottle it or sum it up in a tweet. If you’re in a hurry you might step on it, or the encounter might color your entire day with the added poignancy of carrying something around with you that is impossible (like a dream) to share entirely with anyone else.
And so, I have met with the most success reading Fragile Things when I’ve treated it like a child’s treasure box filled with magazine clippings and movie tickets and Valentines, not a linear thing to be consumed from beginning to end, but a collection to be rifled through, each artifact examined and (There’s that word again.) wondered over as they catch the eye.
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