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Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances Hardcover – Deckle Edge, February 3, 2015
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Praise for Trigger Warning: “Everything that endears Gaiman to his legions of fans is on display ... Full of all manner of witches and monsters and things that creep in the night, this collection will thoroughly satisfy faithful fans and win new ones—if there’s anyone out there left unconverted. (Kirkus Reviews)
“There’s much to revel in here, especially for those who’ve never read anything by Gaiman.” (Huffington Post)
“[T]his collection of stories and poems doesn’t disappoint....Gaiman has warned us about the monsters, but then come magic and miracles. And love.” (Washington Post)
“[Trigger Warning] showcases the breadth and depth of Gaiman’s talent and the unique plangent warmth he brings to fantasy fiction. He is never anything less than a pleasure to read.” (Financial Times)
“Gaiman’s is one of the most distinctive voices in modern fantasy.” (Locus)
“Gaiman displays an uncanny knack for compressing his expansive imagination into the close quarters of his stories’ caves, cottages, and creepy rooms....[he] takes full advantage of his wide range, and it makes for exciting, often musical writing.” (Boston Globe)
‘All of [the stories] are told with an assured, masterly confidence that should please anyone who misses seeing a new Ray Bradbury collection on the shelf at the library.” (Newsday)
“Gaiman calls the stories a “hodgepodge,” with no real interweaving theme throughout. But each of the stories and poems celebrates a different aspect of storytelling that has informed the author’s life.” (NPR)
“Trigger Warning is a comfortable hodgepodge of material ... but there’s enough serious-minded and deeply felt fantasy and horror to make readers hope that it won’t be almost a decade before Gaiman completes another similar volume.” (San Francisco Gate)
“[Gaiman]’s prolific, like Stephen King, and apparently inexhaustible: He dreams up stories as naturally as he breathes.” (Slate)
From the Back Cover
From one of the most critically acclaimed and beloved storytellers of our time comes a major new collection of stories and verse
"We each have our little triggers . . . things that wait for us in the dark corridors of our lives." So says Neil Gaiman in his introduction to Trigger Warning, a remarkable compendium of twenty-five stories and poems that explore the transformative power of imagination.
In "Adventure Story"—a thematic companion to the #1 New York Times bestselling novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane—Gaiman ponders death and the ways in which people take their stories with them when they die. "A Calendar of Tales" is comprised of short pieces about the months of the year—stories of pirates and 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." Also included is "Nothing O'Clock," a very special Doctor Who story that was written for the beloved series in 2013, as well as the never-before-published "Black Dog," a haunting new tale that revisits the world of American Gods as Shadow Moon stops in at a village pub on his way back to America.
Gaiman, a sophisticated writer whose creative genius is unparalleled, entrances with his literary alchemy and transports us deep into an undiscovered country where the fantastical becomes real and the everyday is incandescent. Replete with wonder and terror, surprises and amusements, Trigger Warning is a treasury of literary delights that engage the mind, stir the heart, and shake the soul.
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Without further ado, I’ll give a rundown of the included works:
1.) “Making a Chair”: This is a poem about writer’s block.
2.) “A Lunar Labyrinth”: An homage to Gene Wolfe’s work, “Solar Labyrinth.” This short story is about a maze that was destroyed, and that wasn’t to be walked on full moon nights.
3.) “The Thing About Cassandra”: This is among my favorite stories in the collection. What happens when your friends and family start bumping into the girl who you made up as a girlfriend back in school?
4.) “Down to a Sunless Sea”: This was written for a water-themed event. It’s about a person riding in a lifeboat down the Thames toward the sea.
5.) “The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains”: This one was inspired by an island off Scotland called Skye, but the story is fantasy with magic elements. A man strikes out in search of revenge and closing, regarding a daughter who he thought had run away. This is one of the most engaging pieces in the collection.
6.) “My Last Landlady”: This is a story, conveyed in poetic form, about a mean landlady.
7.) “Adventure Story”: In the Introduction, Gaiman calls this a companion piece to his novella “The Ocean at the End of the Lane.” However, I didn’t make that connection, (and I’ve read that story.) At any rate, it’s a great story about an intriguing artifact left behind by a [deceased] father whose stories were always painfully dull. It’s told by a mother to a son who is incredulous that his, seemingly milquetoast, father lived through such a fascinating event.
8.) “Orange”: Like several of the pieces in this book, this one is unconventional / experimental. However, it’s creative, and it works. It consists of answers to a questionnaire, from which the reader pieces together the story. One doesn’t have the questions, but most of them are fairly clear from the context of the answer.
9.) “Calendar of Tales”: This is what it sounds like, 12 stories each matched to a month. It’s another of the unconventional and unusual pieces. Each story was spun from a tweet response to a question about a given month of the year.
10.) “The Case of Death and Honey”: Few characters in the public domain have spurred as many offshoot stories as Sherlock Holmes, and this is Gaiman’s entry in the pool. Holmes’s interest in bee-keeping is central to the story.
11.) “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury”: An homage to Bradbury. If one forgets a person, did they ever exist?
12.) “Jerusalem”: This work was influenced both by a poem by William Blake and a trip the author took to said city. The story is about a couple of tourists and the unique mental illness associated with this locale.
13.) “Click-Clack the Rattlebag”: A scary bedtime story told by a child about a different kind of monster.
14.) “An Invocation of Incuriosity”: A story about one of the strange and colorful people one might meet at a flea market.
15.) “’And Weep, Like Alexander’”: A light-hearted story about an “un-inventor,” one who keeps you from having flying cars and all the other promised technology from sci-fi.
16.) “Nothing O’Clock”: This is a “Doctor Who” story. It’s not necessary to be familiar with the series (necessary backstory is provided), but it could make it more appealing—i.e. the inside joke effect.
17.) “Diamonds and Pearls: A Fairy Tale”: This is from “Who Killed Amanda Palmer?” Palmer is a cabaret-punk singer/songwriter and Gaiman’s wife, and the aforementioned booklet consists of a series of photos of Palmer looking deceased with brief stories to go along. This is one of the stories that could stand alone. It’s a fairy tale of the adults-only variety.
18.) “The Return of the Thin White Duke”: Another fairy tale, this one about a Duke that strikes out on a quest for adventure in order to rescue a Queen who doesn’t need rescuing.
19.) “Feminine Endings”: A story about a human statue—by that I mean one of those people who deck themselves out and stand on a box in the town square in touristy places in many parts of the world.
20.) “Observing the Formalities”: A poem about one who doesn’t get invited.
21.) “The Sleeper and the Spindle”: A take on the story of “Sleeping Beauty,” but from a different point of view.
22.) “Witch Work”: This is another poem. I believe it’s the only one that’s not free verse. It’s about the life of a witch.
23.) “In Relig Odhrain”: This is a true story about a saint, written in free verse.
24.) “Black Dog”: This is a spin-off from the novel “American Gods” and it features that book’s protagonist, Shadow. You don’t need to have read that book, but you might have a greater affinity for the story if you have. It should also be noted that this is the one piece that is original to this collection, and it’s one of the most substantial pieces in the collection. i.e. it gives fans a reason to pick up the book even if they’ve read a lot of it from the original source.
I enjoyed this book. Gaiman is a masterful story teller. Whether it’s one of conventional pieces based in established worlds (e.g. “Doctor Who” or that of Sherlock Holmes) or one of the off-the-wall, experimental pieces, these stories and poems are a pleasure to read.
My favorite stories were "The Truth is a Cave in the Dark Mountains," a different kind of treasure seeking tale, "The Case of Death and Honey," where Sherlock tries to crack his hardest case, "Nothing O'Clock," a Dr. Who story, "Diamonds and Pearls," a very contemporary fairy tale, "Feminine Endings," creepiest love letter ever, "The Sleeper and the Spindle," a perfect fairytale retelling, and "Black Dog," where Shadow encounters the surreal in a seemingly very normal town. Oddly, I'm not a huge American Gods fan, yet I loved the short story.
Obviously, with so many favorites, this is an excellent collection. It could also be a great entry point for those unfamiliar with Neil Gaiman.
Making a Chair: Poem comparing writing to making a chair. 2.5/5
A Lunar Labyrinth: A traveler likes to visit bizarre sites, but may get more than he bargained for when he goes to a burned down lunar labyrinth. 3/5
The Thing About Cassandra: An artist finds out that the girl he made up and drew as a teenager has been speaking to his friends and family. A reread. 4/5
Down to a Sunless Sea: Flash fiction. And old woman walks in the rain, and there's a bone around her neck. A reread. 4/5
"The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains...": A dwarf asks a farmer to show him the way to the cave in the mountains that holds gold, though gold that comes at a price. This one really hit me. 5/5
My Last Landlady: A creepy poem. 4/5
Adventure Story: Flash fiction about an adventure a mother won't talk about. Listened to a version of this first on NPR. 3.5/5
Orange: Transcript from a teenager about her sister, and turning orange. Cute. I may have read this before. 4/5
A Calendar of Tales: A tale for each month. Some are really great. Reread. 4/5
The Case of Death and Honey: Sherlock's last case. 4.5/5
The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury: The title says it all. 3.5/5
Jerusalem: There's an illness that only hits in Jerusalem. Reread. 3.5/5
Click-Clack the Rattlebag: Creepy little story. 4/5
An Invocation of Incuriosity: A cabinet leads to other times. Reread. 4/5
"And Weep, Like Alexander": An uninventor walks into a bar. 3/5
Nothing O'clock: Doctor Who?!!!! 5/5
Diamonds and Pearls: A Fairy Tale: Dark, modern fairy tale. 4.5/5
The Return of the Thin White Duke: Can someone with ultimate power be happy? 3.5/5
Feminine Endings: A super creepy love letter. A reread, but still creeped me out. 4.5/5
Observing the Formalities: A poem about the fairy (or witch, or godmother, depends on the version) that wasn't invited to the christening. 3.5/5
The Sleeper and the Spindle: Wonderful short story that turns the passive Snow White and Sleeping Beauty into not so passive agents in their own futures. 5/5
Witch Work: A poem about a witch who keeps her life in a box and sells storms. 4/5
In Relig Odhrain: A poem about a new saint of Iona. Rhythm stuck with me. 4/5
Black Dog: Shadow from American Gods stops at a small town on his travels where he stays for a short time with a couple who are hiding something. Love the mix of magic and thriller. 4.5/5
Most recent customer reviews
Excellent, typical Gaiman