Saturday, February 27, 2016

Jenny Reviews: Trigger Warning

 The Vitals

 Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
 Release Date: 3 February 2015
 Page Count: 310
 Genre: Fantasy/Horror/Poetry
 Target Audience: Adult
 Series: No
 Source and Format: Purchased :: eBook
 Amazon | Goodreads

Summary (From Goodreads) 
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.

Notes on Trigger Warning
Let me start off by saying that short stories are not my favorites. I am a drawn to completeness and to characters, both of which are hard to manage well in short stories. More often than not a short story has a comprehensive, cohesive narrative or it has well-devolved characters; it is very difficult to accomplish both. Neil Gaiman is an author who has worked long and hard on his craft, constantly pushing himself (and his readers!) by exploring all sorts of storytelling formats so I knew that if there were short stories for me I would more than likely find them here. Are all the stories and poems wonderful? No, but that is okay. There is much good here to be read.

Overall, I enjoyed this book even more than I thought I would. There are a lot of stories and poems that make it worth the price and time. Not everything has the same format or the same genre, though the majority would be classified under fantasy. The introduction alone is worth the price of the book (yes, I read introductions and yes, you should too). It would be nice if he developed it further into a talk or paper. It has the potential, in my opinion, of being very influential in literary and academic circles. Plus, it is something that needs to be said and he says it very well and very kindly, which goes a long way in getting people to listen. If you get the chance to read this, whether borrowed or bought, I highly encourage you to do so. 

Some of my favorites:
  • "The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains..." - I am not sure why I like this one as much as I do. I think because the narrator is so compelling. Plus, the twist at the end is awesome. 
  • October Tale from "A Calendar of Tales" - A sweet story about love, obligation, and contentment. This one is very profound for being so tiny. 
  • "The Case of Death and Honey" - A Sherlock Holmes story that is, in my opinion, flawless. It would fit seamlessly into the Conan Doyle canon.
  • "The Sleeper and the Spindle" - This has been turned into a book with wonderful illustrations. Probably my favorite, it is a retelling of Snow White and Sleeping Beauty (y'all know how I love retellings!) and I am going to buy it on its own so I, too, can have the illustrations.
  • "Feminine Endings" - This one was not one of my favorites but the title is, hands down, one of the most perfect titles I have ever come across. It actually enhanced the story for me, which I do not think has ever happened.
I fully admit that this book will not appeal to everyone, but if you are looking for something out of your comfort zone or just something different, then you should give it a try. 

Memorable Quotes:
"What we read as adults should be read, I think, with no warnings or alerts beyond, perhaps: enter at your own risk. We need to find out what fiction is, what it means, to us, an experience that is going to be unlike anyone else’s experience of the story."

“Better to have flamed in the darkness, to have inspired others, to have lived, than to have sat in the darkness, cursing the people who borrowed, but did not return, your candle.”

“In my family ‘adventure’ tends to be used to mean ‘any minor disaster we survived’ or even ‘any break from routine’. Except by my mother, who still uses it to mean ‘what she did that morning’. Going to the wrong part of a supermarket car park and, while looking for her car, getting into a conversation with someone whose sister, it turns out, she knew in the 1970s would qualify, for my mother, as a full-blown adventure.”

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