Title: Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances
Author: Neil Gaiman
Publisher: William Morrow
Publication Date: February 2015
Rating: 4.5 stars
There are things that upset us.
There are few authors I’ve read during my nineteen years of life who can give me chills and force me to think the way Neil Gaiman does. Over the past couple years, I have heard many classmates and professors mention Neil Gaiman and how wonderful he is; eventually my curiosity peaked and I caved at Barns & Noble one day — I bought his new book, Trigger Warning. I tried (unsuccessfully) to read this collection of stories during this semester, but failed miserably. According to my Goodreads, I started reading this late August. Luckily, it is now December and I am on Winter break, so I was able to race through the last two-thirds of the book.
Trigger Warning is a magnificent collection of short stories and poems written by the incredible Neil Gaiman, many of which appear in various other collections and collaborations. The book begins with an endearing introduction from the author himself, followed by a section discussing each story or poem, a paragraph or two for each one. After reading each selection, I would then read the accompanying paragraphs. I wanted to go into each selection blind. After spending this semester researching the short story and its origin, I have to say Neil Gaiman seems to have mastered this genre. You dive right into his stories, in the middle of a scene, and you spend the first part of the story gathering information and trying to figure out what’s going on; then, you think you have it figured out, you begin to understand the story, and Gaiman pulls the rug out from under your feet and then — the end. His stories are like a roller coaster, not necessarily in pace, but in the sense that the direction is constantly changing and it ends just as suddenly as it starts.
Gaiman’s poetry was interesting and not like other poems I have read, but then again I’m not very experienced with modern poetry. His stories were my main focus and enjoyment, though, and many of them left my mind spinning and heart racing. There were many touching stories in this collection, but more of them that creeped me out and gave me a very unsettling feeling. It’s not that his stories are necessarily scary like a horror novel; it’s more that they are suspenseful and make you think about yourself, life, and existence. The ideas are scary, not the content.
There are some of my favorites from this collection. I’ll tell you a little about them in hopes that maybe something sounds interesting to you and you, too, will pick up this book, because it’s really great.
-“The Thing About Cassandra” is about a teenager who is teased for not having a girlfriend and for being a virgin, so he invents a girlfriend in his mind and tells everybody about her. As an adult, his imaginary girlfriend decides it’s time to meet him.
-“Down to a Sunless Sea” is about an old women missing her son, a boy who ran away to become a sailor and never came back.
-“The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains…” is about a man’s journey to avenge his daughter.
-“Click-Clack the Rattlebag” is about the reason houses creak and moan when we’re alone in the dark. Just so you guys know, this story was absolutely creepy and after I read it I had to look behind me. I read it at night and had nightmares. Not sure if these two events are connected, but I’m not saying they aren’t.
-“Feminine Endings” is about a man writing a love letter to the woman he admires. This story also creeped me out and forced me to look behind me.
Neil Gaiman is amazing. This is the only book I’ve read of his, but I am determined to read more. This man is one of the most talented contemporary writers I’ve come across, and has written at least one book that can appeal to all ages. He is a master storyteller and has the best reading voice of all-time. I actually got the chance to listen to him speak in Charleston this past October and it was fantastic.
Not only did I get to hear Gaiman talk about his life (his baby boy was just born!) and his book, but I got to experience him reading one of his stories from Trigger Warning, a story I had literally read right before he came out on stage. It was fantastic. He didn’t have enough time to stay after and sign books, but he did pre-sign a bunch, and I ended up purchasing a signed copy of his novel American Gods. I look forward to reading it, especially knowing that it was actually previously in the hands of Neil Gaiman himself.
Oh, and I was on his Twitter feed, too:
So yeah, it was kind of a big deal for me. Neil Gaiman is a big deal. His writing is beautiful and his plots are always interesting and original. I encourage you all to read his stuff. It’s creepy, but in a good way.
Favorite Quote(s): “The monsters in our cupboards and our minds are always there in the darkness, like mold beneath the floorboards and behind the wallpaper, and there is so much darkness, an inexhaustible supply of darkness. The universe is amply supplied with night.”
“Stories are waiting like distant thunderstorms / grumbling and flickering on the gray horizon…”
“We see the world not as it is but as we are.”
“All I have left is the space in my mind where you used to be.”