Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Neil Gaiman's Trigger Warning

I’ve recently discovered a love of short stories. I attribute this to the fact that the short stories I’ve read in my adulthood are better written than the ones I read in years past. It could, however, just be that I’m developing adult ADD (it’s a thing!) and short stories work well with my busy mind and stressful workdays.

Whatever the reason, I was very excited to read Neil Gaiman’s newest collection: Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances. I was not disappointed - even the introduction is well written and interesting! In it Gaiman not only talks about the overall collection, but also about why he wrote the various stories and poems. I almost stood up and cheered reading some parts, including this sentence: “But so much of what we read as adults should be read, I think, with no warnings or alerts beyond, perhaps: we need to find out what fiction is, what it means, to us, an experience that is going to be unlike anyone else’s experience of the story.” He goes on to say that, in his opinion, fiction should not be safe. It should shake us up, trouble our dreams, and open our eyes. This collection fulfills that promise.

I’m only going to touch on a few stories in this review. These are the ones that truly made me pause and think; the ones I’ll be rereading again and again.

A Lunar Labyrinth was the first story (preceded by a poem) and was a great introduction to the overall creeptastic twisty content of this collection. Gaiman’s atmospheric descriptions put me in the labyrinth with our narrator, and I’m still trying to get out.

My Last Landlady was the next story that really grabbed my attention. I may never look at a bed-and-breakfast stay the same again, especially ones at dreary, misty seasides. 

Orange was fantastically amusing. The format was unique and built up the story through interviews - but only gave the reader the answers. You’d think this would be confusing, but somehow it really worked.

A Calendar of Tales is a set of stories based on tweets sent in by fans. I love the idea that a sentence of under 140 characters can inspire such fantasy and horror and imagination. It made me look at inspiration in a completely different way.

Click-Clack the Rattlebag was just plain creepy. Seriously. *shudder*

There were a couple of stories that I didn’t enjoy quite so much, and I’m not a huge poetry fan, but overall this is a very readable collection. To pull in a reader so completely and satisfyingly is difficult, and it speaks volumes to Gaiman’s talent that he is able to do it repeatedly in such a short span of pages. I highly recommend this one to fans and to those who’ve never read his novels. You won’t regret it…until you try and get some sleep…

Gaiman, Neil. Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances. New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2015. 4 stars.

Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this novel from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The thoughts and opinions expressed in the review are mine alone. 

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