This week I am taking a break from my normal comic book rant to explore another love of mine, literature. I am going to talk about the newest collection of short stories from one of my favorite authors, Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman, published by William Morrow/Harper Collins and available at all fine book selling locations.
This book is a collection containing stunning fantasy epics, heartbreaking fairytales and mind numbingly dull stories.
Let’s start out by talking about the good in this book. There are a fair number of fantastic stories in these pages. Most notably The Thing About Cassandra, a short about imagination and relationships, A Calendar of Tales, a year’s worth of tales in a few pages which are all worth your time, My Last Landlady, a horror tale about murder by the sea and finally Orange, a story in the form of a questionnaire that really feels like a Welcome to Night Vale script. Gaiman has a way with fantasy that makes it look easy. He can weave an intricate and complex universe in a few pages, a task few authors can do in volumes. His mastery of fairytale is as evident as ever as well with a heart breaking short entitled Pearls: A Fairy Tale, which entranced my senses and broke my heart in three pages. His other fairy tale retelling, The Sleeper and the Spindle, while lengthier, was as effective and expertly written as Snow, Glass, Apples (from Smoke and Mirrors) or Stardust. Despite all of these gems I have to say my favorite piece is “And Weep, Like Alexander”, a story about a univentor. This story is brilliant in that Gaiman creates a universe by destroying one.
Sadly though the collection is not all gold, unlike past collections of shorts by Gaiman, this one had a larger number of stories that felt forced, old or just simply boring. Some of these tales flew completely under my radar and I have neither positive nor negative opinions of them, stories like Making a Chair or The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury. There were also stories I just didn’t care about, such as Nothing O’clock which was a Dr. Who novella or episode or something, either way it dealt with Dr. Who, a series I am both unfamiliar with and uninterested in. There were also stories that I just felt didn’t need to be in here because they felt forced or like they were added to help flesh out the page count, like “The Truth is A Cave in the Black Mountains…” which was published as a standalone, illustrated book last year. It didn’t need to be in here… it’s already a book.
Overall I enjoyed this collection of shorts. The ones that were good were amazing and the ones that were bad were still pretty good since Neil Gaiman is one of my all time favorite authors. I still kind of felt let down though; I was expecting more from this collection and have to say that it took me a long time to get through this book. I still love Neil Gaiman and will buy and read every book he puts out, especially the long awaited/rumored follow up to American Gods, but this isn’t the first time he let me down. His last novel, Ocean at the End of the Lane, was not as good as I was hoping either, feeling kind of like an adult version of Coraline.
Also, as I read an ARC (Advanced Reader Copy), I was missing a story or two, such as Black Dog, apparently an American Gods tale.
This book still gets a 4 out 5 for me, and if you like short story collections, Neil Gaiman, or amazing modern fantasy then you should buy this book.