Fragile Things Read-Along, Part the Sixth


Wait, the Sixth? There are only two more weeks after this? How did that happen?

Well, it happened happily this week, as I enjoyed every story that I read. Huzzah! We’ve got a sock monkey with an odd life, vampires, a creepy old lady, and a dude who can’t write good, and as far as I can tell nothing that requires any homework on my part, which is probably why I found this set so enjoyable. Let me tell you more…

“My Life”
I only know that this story is meant to go with a sock monkey because the introduction tells me so, and I actually listened to it the first time without remembering that fact. So I can tell you that it is highly amusing whether you’re imagining monkeys or a drunk old man. This is probably because whoever it is, his life is awesome. He’s got a mum who’s his dad (a dad who’s his mum? However you want to put that, I guess) and who does underwater tango, and he’s got a dissolved wife who was once in a coma for 70 years, but he’ll tell you his life’s not been very interesting and so I would like to know what else he considers normal! Even if he’s making it all up, I’d buy him a drink to hear another story.

“Fifteen Painted Cards From a Vampire Tarot”
This was another one that didn’t quite come across in audio because it’s a set of very short stories, but it was certainly excellent in print, if hard to describe! Basically you’ve got a series of vignettes that get at the “truth” of vampires — talking about classic vampire mythology, writing new mythology, looking at how we regular humans react to vampires when we meet them (or “meet them”). I think my favorites are “The Magician”, which is just a joke, really; “The Chariot”, which imagines vampires as space colonists; and “The Wheel of Fortune”, in which my favorite response to missing items — “I got hungry and ate it” — becomes a little more sinister.

“Feeders and Eaters”
Oh. Em. Gee. This is definitely my favorite story of the week, and is at least edging in on “A Study in Emerald” and “October in the Chair”. It imagines a man meeting an old acquaintance in a bar, and that acquaintance going on about how he’s been these past ten years, doing some work in the area, boarding with a nice family, meeting his fellow boarder and rescuing her from her sick bed with some raw meat that she ate right out of the container, blood dripping on the sheets… you know, the usual story. And then it gets a lot grosser, really, so if you’re not of a strong stomach I recommend against this one! I think what’s really interesting is that at one point The Acquaintance talks about having done something that anyone would do, and then later all but asks Our Narrator to do that same thing and Our Narrator has no idea what he’s on about. And I can’t decide whether Our Narrator is meant to be a big old jerk, or if I can rest assured that this is not something that anyone would do, because I probably couldn’t do it.

“Diseasemaker’s Croup”
This was a tough one — I haven’t yet listened to it, but it’s darn confusing in print so I may not even try. Basically, it’s a story about a disease, as written by a person with said disease, and one of the symptoms is a complete lack of making sense in writing. Which, oh dear. I spent too much time confused by the first bad sentence before I got to the explain-y part, and then I was still baffled by most of the rest of the story, but by the time I got to the end I realized that the sentences weren’t so much bad as out of order and I was having fun trying to figure out how the story would otherwise go. I still haven’t got it fully pieced together, but I’m much more appreciative of it now than when I started!

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7 thoughts on “Fragile Things Read-Along, Part the Sixth

  1. GeraniumCat says:

    LOL, I didn't quite get to the piecing the sentences together in the right order because it was going to take just so much time! And I think you're definitely more patient with old men in pubs than I am!

    I loved the tarot – especially the got hungry line – and the way it builds to a complete story through the vignettes.

    Do you think in Feeders and Eaters that the narrator didn't know what was being asked, or was refusing to see it/understand it? I agree that not everyone would – not me, at any rate, so you're not alone there. But I do think the narrator had a probably with empathy.

  2. Carl V. says:

    Even though the introduction talks about what the story was written for, I never picture a sock monkey character when reading My Life, it is always just an interesting old man. And I too would keep plying him with drinks if similar stories were forthcoming.

    Funny because I had the exact opposite thing happen to me with the vampire tarot story. It came across much more interesting to me when I heard it on audio the first time. I would have said I didn't particularly like it after reading the book, but once I heard it on audio everything really connected.
    I would love to see these stories with accompanying images by Rick Berry or Dave McKean in book form.

    I think the narrator in Feeders and Eaters establishes that he is somewhat self involved and is not the kind of person who wants to have much to do with old acquaintances, so it isn't surprising that he doesn't do anything about Eddie's veiled cry for help. Then again, having set himself up as this kind of person, he could have very well been purposefully dense simply so he didn't have to get any more involved.

    Diseasemaker's Croup makes much more sense to me listening to Gaiman read it, as you can hear the rapidly increasing progress of the disease as the narrator begins repeating phrases that he has already said and begins garbling bits of information together. It is very effective as a performance, but still not one that makes me want to read it over and over again.

  3. dooliterature says:

    I agree with you about the old, drunk, sock monkey man. I would definitely buy him plenty of drinks to hear what he had to say.

    Feeders and Eaters is probably one of my favorites from this collection, too. I don't think I could kill Eric either. It's one thing to kill a cat, but another to kill another human being. Especially in a public place, haha.

  4. Alison says:

    GeraniumCat — Yeah, it was mostly when I started noticing them in the right place that I was like, oh, I see, and then this part over here would go over here… and so on. 🙂 And yeah, that not knowing/refusing to know distinction is what I'm really trying to decide! I'm leaning toward really not knowing, though.

    Carl — Yeah, that guy does not quite come across as a sock monkey. But it's fun to picture sock monkeys doing underwater tango and being in little sock monkey comas, and hey, that explains the not aging part! And yeah, I really need to listen to “Diseasemaker's Croup” when I can get a chance, though I'm not sure it'll make too much more sense!

    Anna — Oh, gosh, can you imagine? “Sure, I'll put you out of your misery, just let me grab this… butter knife! And this… egg-crusted fork! And… uh, no, you're probably better off being eaten alive, really.”

  5. Kailana says:

    I was thinking 'My Life' would be good as an audio, but maybe I was wrong…

    The Tarot was actually my favourite of the lot. I thought it was different..

  6. Alison says:

    Kailana — Oh, “My Life” was quite delightful on audio! At first, I was like, “What is this voice that Gaiman's putting on?” but it didn't take long for it to be the perfect voice for that character. His line breaks in audio are much better than the ones in print.

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