I started How to Talk to Girls at Parties without realising I’d read it once before, long ago as part of Gaiman’s Fragile Things collection. Within a page or so the story quickly felt familiar, but whether that’s down to knowing it or it all being a bit obvious is hard to say. Gaiman can do delightful things with his short stories, but this one is disappointingly one-note – it’s so hard to talk to girls! It’s like they’re from another planet or something! …Oh wait, they are.
There’s a lovely lyrical quality that saves this story from being a washout, but it also serves to make our teenage protagonist Enn even more of a moron. HtTtGaP is a frustrating snapshot of Gaiman’s real potential, and probably works just fine in a collection, snug amongst stories that shine. As a standalone though, I’d give it a swerve.
[Read on 31 May 2016]