Book Review: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

Jean-Paul’s Rating: 4/5 stars

Fully titled “Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances”, this book contains a series of short stories written by Gaiman throughout the years with the a bit too common theme of stories that might trigger some latent emotion in either the characters or the readers.  Gaiman can be forgiven for this easy bait of a title because he starts the book off with a foreword about trigger warnings that is both educational and elucidating and shows the mounds of respect for people with different experiences that Gaiman has always shown.  For those of you who don’t know or never heard, Gaiman recently made popular the replacing of the phrase “political correctness” with the phrase “treating people with respect”.  Which is about as spot on a response to people who complain about political correctness as I can think of.

Before Gaiman gets to the stories, he provides a section where he describes various details about each story, whether it was how the story came to be or who inspired him or where he was during the writing.  I am a sucker for stuff like this even though it neither adds nor subtracts to the stories themselves.  It gives a writer’s insight into the murky process of story creation.  My one complaint is Kindle.  Or, more likely, whoever put the Kindle version together.  Gaiman put these insightful tidbits all in one place with a command to the reader do with it as they will.  Read them now.  Read them as you read the stories.  Read them all afterwards.  Ignore them completely. I wanted to read them as I read the stories and each story title was actually a hyperlink and I was so excited that someone had actually thought of linking back to the tidbits.  Well, they didn’t.  They linked back to the table of contents. Ugh.  So I just ended up reading all the tidbits at the end of the book.

On to the stories.  It is very difficult to rate the true worth of an anthology of short stories.  Do you give heavier weight to the Doctor Who story that made you want to give the Doctor Who TV show one last try no matter how many times you’ve been disappointed because if they were written like Gaiman can write it, the show’s got to be good? Or the Sherlock Holmes retirement story that rekindled your love for Arthur Conan Doyle’s prose? Or being able to reacquaint yourself with Shadow from “American Gods” and falling back in like he was a fast friend from youth?  Then there are the stories whose existence seems to stem from the command that a writer must write; always.  Should their presence detract from the magic within the pages?  But there are also the stories that kindle your fears; that winding path to emptiness inside your own head that you both know and forget that you are on over and over again.  That isn’t easy to capture. I lean towards the magic.  And there is much magic to be had with “Trigger Warning”.

If you enjoy short stories as much as I do, you will get a lot of pleasure from reading “Trigger Warning”.  If you fall more on the meh side of short stories, there’s a bit of chaff to get through to get to the wheat, but it’s still worth it.  If you don’t like short stories at all, you should burn in the sixth circle of hell which is eternal death by paper cut because you obviously have no soul. #kiddingnotkidding

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