Monday, August 10, 2015

Gaiman's superbly atmospheric short fiction

Trigger Warning, by Neil Gaiman
Do you ever read a book and think to yourself, this is why I love reading so much, for the exact experience of having this book in my hands and seeing these perfectly-chosen words in this exact order and understanding just how beautiful language can be?

For me, that's pretty much par for the course on any book I've read by Neil Gaiman, but I am particularly struck by how great his short stories are.  Trigger Warning is a collection of stories that Gaiman himself feels are not very tightly connected with each other, but that come together brilliantly.

I received a free copy of Trigger Warning when it came out, but I admit that I waited a while to read it because Neil Gaiman himself narrates the audiobook version, and I really wanted to listen to him narrate the stories.  So, apologies to William Morrow for the delay on this review, but I have zero regrets about waiting for the audiobook because it was very, very good and 100% worth the wait.

There are several short stories in this collection ranging from short and funny to longer and creepier to pretty much everything in between.  Most of them are in the mysterious/creepy/spooky camp, so this would be a great read for Halloween.  I read it in July, though, and got some delicious shivers up and down my back, so I suspect it would work at any time of year.

One of my favorite things about this collection is the introduction.  In it, Gaiman gives readers short descriptions and backgrounds for each of the stories he included.  So many of his stories are in appreciation of other authors or cultural figures - Gene Wolfe, Ray Bradbury, Arthur Conan Doyle, David Bowie, Doctor Who... the list goes on and is so varied.  Apparently, Gaiman is pretty much invited to write a story for everyone famous who ever interacts with him, and he often obliges.  And sometimes, he writes stories for non-famous people, too.  Or just because.

One of my favorite stories in this collection is "The Sleeper and the Spindle."  It turns the story of Snow White on its head a bit, gives Snow White the agency and gumption that is so often lacking in fairy tale heroines, and is, to my delight, being published as a storybook all on its own, with illustrations.  It's the sort of storybook that I would give to all my friends' children as a gift to make sure that the next generation knows that girls can be powerful HERoes, too.

There are also stories about loss and heartache, the importance of family and friends to combat loneliness, and the search for love and redemption.  I love Neil Gaiman's stories because he so often writes about people who think of themselves as uncomplicated, unexciting folk, but then he gives them the courage and the power to do extraordinary things.  And they do.  And sometimes it's for the good and sometimes it's for the bad, but it's always a beautiful story and a huge treat to read.

Note:  I received a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

5 comments:

  1. >>One of my favorite things about this collection is the introduction. In it, Gaiman gives readers short descriptions and backgrounds for each of the stories he included.

    This might be my favorite thing about Neil Gaiman's collections of short stories. It's cool that he honors the people who inspired him, and it's fun as a reader to know where these stories came from in his life. I don't uniformly love his short stories, but I adore his introductions to the collections. (And I did in fact like most of the stories in Trigger Warning.)

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  2. Gahhhh, I need more! I have had a hit and miss relationship with Gaiman. I didn't particularly enjoy American Gods (the first book of his I read), but I've loved several others since then (The Graveyard Book, Coraline, The Ocean at the End of the Lane). I'm bumping this one to the top of my to-read list because I'm on a major short story kick.

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  3. I am not really an audiobook person but I recently let my kids listen to Gaiman read his Chu stories (picture books that star a panda) and I must say that he's an excellent reader!

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  4. Wow! You make this book sound soooo good! I need a copy of it ASAP!! I've never read any Gaiman and I realize from what you've written that I am seriously missing out on some terrific writing. I'm definitely reading this one as soon as I can get it delivered to my door. Great post!!

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  5. Gaiman is very hit or miss for me, but I do really want to read this!

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