Listened: August 2016
Multiple award winning, #1 New York Times bestselling author Neil Gaiman returns to dazzle, captivate, haunt, and entertain with this third collection of short fiction following Smoke and Mirrors and Fragile Things–which includes a never-before published American Gods story, “Black Dog,” written exclusively for this volume.
In this new anthology, Neil Gaiman pierces the veil of reality to reveal the enigmatic, shadowy world that lies beneath. Trigger Warning includes previously published pieces of short fiction–stories, verse, and a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the fiftieth anniversary of the beloved series in 2013–as well “Black Dog,” a new tale that revisits the world of American Gods, exclusive to this collection.
Trigger Warning explores the masks we all wear and the people we are beneath them to reveal our vulnerabilities and our truest selves. Here is a rich cornucopia of horror and ghosts stories, science fiction and fairy tales, fabulism and poetry that explore the realm of experience and emotion. In “Adventure Story”–a thematic companion to The Ocean at the End of the Lane–Gaiman ponders death and the way people take their stories with them when they die. His social media experience “A Calendar of Tales” are short takes inspired by replies to fan tweets about the months of the year–stories of pirates and the March winds, an igloo made of books, and a Mother’s Day card that portends disturbances in the universe. Gaiman offers his own ingenious spin on Sherlock Holmes in his award-nominated mystery tale “The Case of Death and Honey”. And “Click-Clack the Rattlebag” explains the creaks and clatter we hear when we’re all alone in the darkness.
A sophisticated writer whose creative genius is unparalleled, Gaiman entrances with his literary alchemy, transporting us deep into the realm of imagination, where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday incandescent. Full of wonder and terror, surprises and amusements, Trigger Warning is a treasury of delights that engage the mind, stir the heart, and shake the soul from one of the most unique and popular literary artists of our day.
For years and years now I’ve considered myself to be a fan of Neil Gaiman. It all started back in the late 90’s when I was working at a local drug store. We’d get in a selection of paperback novels to sell along with the magazines and one day Stardust was among them. I remember being interested by it and eventually bought myself a copy. I fell in love instantly and declared that book my absolute favourite – quite fitting since I literally could not put it down. I read it wherever I was and tried to figure out how I could read it while doing whatever I was doing, whether or not reading was something you did while doing whatever it was I was doing. Since then I had read the story and read it again, listened to the audiobook, seen the movie – and I’ve read more of Neil Gaiman’s work, tried following his career, and so on and so forth.
My Neil Gaiman shelf at home is getting more and more packed as I pick up a new book of his here and there. It’s hard to keep on top of him since he has so much material and I don’t want to be that person who just buys things and never reads them, but eventually that’s what I’ve turned into. So, it’s been my mission lately to try and read all the Neil Gaiman I have on my shelf, whether it’s once a month or once every six months, just try and get through it all and experience all he has to offer.
Trigger Warning was released last year and I just had to buy a copy, even though I still own an unread copy of Smoke And Mirrors, Neil’s first collection of short stories. I completely gobbled up this collection, thus declaring my old self not quite ready for short stories, which is why I’m pretty sure I never read his previous collection or the one before that. I mean, I read a few stories in the books, but I never felt inclined to just breeze through them like I did this one. I started listening to the audiobook since I had seen it on Hoopla. In fact, I didn’t even intend to listen to this book but when I had gotten into my car one day I realized that I hadn’t downloaded my current audiobook listen onto my phone so I panicked, since one should always have an audiobook to listen to in the car, and quickly browsed through Hoopla to find something since I could listen to it using mobile data. I came across one title of Neil’s that wasn’t available and then saw this one and immediately thought that short stories would be a good idea since I could listen to a story here or there rather than devote large chunks of time to the book at once.
Or I could just read the whole thing in a few sittings, which is what I did.
I loved these stories. Sure, some of them weren’t my favourite and I’m sure some went over my head, but there were quite a few that I absolutely adored. My favourites include Making a Chair, The Thing About Cassandra, Adventure Story (the pteradactyls!), the July and October story in A Calendar of Tales (seriously, the one with the genie is awesome!), The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury (I loved this one since I’m a mom who’s CONSTANTLY forgetting normal words – and in the same sense, I fear forgetting things as I grow older), Click-Clack the Rattlebag (I’ve listened to this one a few times and always love it. It’s short and so super spooky!), Nothing O’Clock (I’m not the biggest fan of the 11th Doctor, but this was a great story. Kind of made me want to pick up the collection of stories this story was written for.), and Feminine Endings (ADORED this one. It’s one of those psychologically creepy stories with a real hit at the end.). Others were great, too, but these were my absolute favourites. I would say my least favourite stories in the collection would probably be the Sherlock Holmes one and The Sleeper And The Spindle (which I had read before and was just so so about).
Pretty much right when I started listening, I fell in love with Neil’s voice (as I usually do) and as he talked about the different stories, I wondered how one would go about talking to Neil about mundane things, like picking up a gallon of milk, or telling him to put his socks in the laundry basket. His stories are so twisted and dark that I wonder what he dreams about or what he talks about in conversation, since I really only know him through his stories. He’s the kind of writer who makes me love writers, the kind of writer who makes me gaze upon writers with awe, wondering how they manage to craft such interesting stories that suck us readers in, making us want more and more. The instant I finished listening, I knew I had to really catch up on more of my Neil Gaiman reading and I fully intend to! And I really look forward to reading more of the story collections of his because I really think they are the best.