I remember how excited I was when I discovered bestselling and multi-award-winning author Neil Gaiman’s novels. The first of his novels I read was Good Omens, which he wrote with another favorite author, Terry Pratchett (Update: Sir Terry passed away this morning and will be greatly missed), and I was hooked from then on. The worlds he creates blow me away, even when they have me checking my closets for eerie creatures who might pop out and say just a bit more than “Boo!” I think I also personally relate to his having already read all the books being covered in school before they were ever introduced. “Yay, you can’t beat an author who’s an obsessive reader,” said this obsessive reader/reviewer.
So you can imagine the cheering that could be heard for blocks when I opened the publisher’s padded envelope to find a copy of Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances, Gaiman’s new short story collection. No, that was not an earthquake – that was just me jumping up and down with glee. If you’ve never read any of Neil Gaiman’s novels, this collection of tasty tidbits is a great way to plunge into the vast world of his imagination. And to make it even better, we’re hosting a giveaway so you could win a copy! Whoot!
Trigger Warning contains 24 short stories as well as an introduction that includes the author’s thoughts about each story, an added insight that I loved. And these stories run the gamut from miniscule little gems to longer tales of all kinds. Among them is a Doctor Who story, a story tied to The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and a story tied to American Gods – just to name a few. For me, reading these short stories feels as if I’m poking around inside of Neil Gaiman’s head like Nancy Drew with her trusty flashlight, which is a lot more fun and less creepy than it might sound.
Usually I give a sentence or two about each story but I’m not going to do that in this case to avoid spoilers. There is a commonality among the stories in that they strip away the public masks that many of us wear, even without knowing we’re wearing them, down to what lies underneath. Sometimes what lies underneath is wonderful and sometimes not so much. More often than not, what lies underneath is a mixture of both. These are stories steeped in fantasy, science fiction, horror, fairy tale lore (but not for children), poetry, and everyday but never ordinary life.
One of my favorites among the super short tales is about an igloo made of books. I immediately wanted to go construct one just like it. And I could really relate to Making a Chair because I’ve done similar things, although I’ve never made a chair.
These are the tales of Trigger Warning:
Making a Chair
A Lunar Labrynth
The Thing About Cassandra
Down to a Sunless Sea
“The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains…”
My Last Landlady
Adventure Story (tied to The Ocean at the End of the Lane)
A Calendar of Tales
The Case of Death and Honey (featuring Sherlock Holmes)
The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury
Click-Clack the Rattlebag
An Invocation of Incuriosity
“And Weep, Like Alexander”
Diamonds and Pearls: A Fairy Tale
The Return of the Thin White Duke
Observing the Formalities
The Sleeper and the Spindle
In Relig Odhrain
Black Dog (tied to American Gods)
So what exactly is Gaiman’s trigger warning? It warns you that these stories may trigger emotional reactions that could affect you in ways you can’t anticipate. So what are triggers? Therapists know all about triggers. They’re usually dark emotions from past events we believe are over and done with, events we think we’ve put behind us. But those emotions can rise up at unexpected moments to plunge us right back into what we felt during that event. What will cause a trigger often seems like such a small thing to cause such a huge reaction. And we all have them, whether we want to admit it or not. No one can live out their entire life without reacting to some event with an emotion that lies in wait to spring out of a dark corner when we least expect it. Then it shouts gleefully, “Surprise! Thought you were done with me, didn’t you?” *cue the evil laugh*
Each person who reads the stories in Trigger Warning will have a different response to them because we all approach them from our own unique history and perspective. A story I think is completely innocuous, you may find horrifying and vice versa. It’s all in how we perceive the world and what we bring of our experience to the words we read. No two readers will see them the same. That’s one of the things that makes reading this kind of work so interesting and such an adventure.
“There are things in this book, as in life, that might upset you. There is death and pain in here, tears and discomfort, violence of all kinds, cruelty, even abuse. There is kindness, too, I hope, sometimes. Even a handful of happy endings. (Few stories end unhappily for all participants, after all.) And there’s more than that:…Many of these stories end badly for at least one of the people in them. Consider yourself warned.” Excerpt from the Introduction.
When I read the wealth of stories contained in Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances, I laughed, I cried, I was astounded and I was horrified. And I knew immediately that I’ll come back to these tales over time, because each time I read them I’ll bring whatever new experience and, hopefully, wisdom I’ve gained for a completely fresh experience. What more could you ask for from any anthology? Do I recommend it? You betcha!
The video below is of an inspiring commencement speech Neil Gaiman gave to arts college graduates a few years ago. It’s worth watching and listening to because it’s all about the reality of what it’s like to not forsake your dreams.
Can’t wait to read it?
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances was published on February 3, 2015, so it’s available from your favorite online bookseller below (or in the right column for iBooks). Just click on the button/link to go get it now!
I’d love to get your comments on Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances, Neil Gaiman or his other work, and/or this review.
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One lucky reader will win a finisher hardcover copy of Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman!
1) The deadline for entries is Saturday night, 3/28/2015, at 11:59pm EDST. No entries after that date/time will be eligible.
2) This giveaway is open to entries with U.S. mailing addresses only because we do not ship books outside of the U.S.
3) You must be at least 15 years old to enter this giveaway.
4) You must use the Rafflecopter form. Even if leaving a comment is part of the giveaway, you must use the form in addition to leaving the comment for the comment to count as an entry.
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7) That’s it – it’s a very easy giveaway, so have fun and best of luck!