Words on the air

May 14, 2010

I’m currently reading Neil Gaiman’s 2006 collection of short stories and poems entitled Fragile Things. I make no secret that I’m a huge fan of Gaiman. His imagination is peerless and his writing is, in my opinion, exquisite. His mastery over words is almost as pure and perfect as that of the king of all storytellers – Ray Bradbury.

I wanted to share an excerpt from the introduction of Fragile Things that brought tears to my eyes and made me once again, feel value and purpose as a storyteller…

As I write this now, it occurs to me that the peculiarity of most things we think of as fragile is how tough they truly are. There were tricks we did with eggs, as children, to show how they were, in reality, tiny load-bearing marble halls; while the beat of the wings of a butterfly in the right place, we are told, can create a hurricane across an ocean. Hearts may break, but hearts are the toughest of muscles, able to pump for a lifetime, seventy times a minute, and scarcely falter along the way. Even dreams, the most delicate and intangible of things, can prove remarkably difficult to kill.

Stories, like people and butterflies and songbirds’ eggs and human hearts and dreams, are also fragile things, made up of nothing stronger or more lasting than twenty-six letters and a handful of punctuation marks. Or they are words on the air, composed of sounds and ideas – abstract, invisible, gone once they’ve been spoken – and what could be more frail than that? But some stories, small, simple ones about setting out on adventures or people doing wonders, tales of miracles and monsters, have outlasted all the people who told them, and some of them have outlasted the lands in which they were created.

~Neil Gaiman

I strongly recommend Fragile Things – it’s one of the most diverse and entertaining collections of short stories I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading.

~CGW

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