Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Trigger Warning - Neil Gaiman

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and DisturbancesI love Neil Gaiman.  I do not love short stories.  I have not read Gaiman's other collections of short stories, though they're on the bookshelf waiting for my attention.  But the library had Trigger Warning available, and really, how could I resist?

I'm going to ignore the title on this one, because "trigger warning" is a really charged term right now, very politicized, and I don't want to get into that.  (But, for the sake of argument: I am against trigger warnings.  The world will not baby you, so why should people?  Also, I am a cold-hearted individual.)  Gaiman makes a kind of weak argument for the title of the collection, but honestly I think he could have found something better, because there doesn't really appear to be much in here that actually qualifies as a typical trigger warning--there's not sexual assault, which is the one that immediately comes to mind, no situations of abuse, no suicide, no... I mean, there's a lot of stuff, but not the stuff that normally falls into "trigger warning" discussions, so the title seems a bit off.

As for the stories themselves--they vary.  I definitely consider "The Truth Is A Cave In the Black Mountains," "The Sleeper and the Spindle," and "Black Dog," which are the three longest stories, to be the strongest pieces here.  "A Calendar of Tales" also had some very strong pieces included in it, though they all stand independent of each other and there's not a real thread tying them together.  The poetry was not up my ally (particularly "Making a Chair," which did not fit with the rest of the collection at all) but then most poetry isn't, and Gaiman characterizes the poems as "freebies," placed in addition to and not instead of other prose pieces.  Other bits, such as "The Lunar Labyrinth" and "Down to a Sunless Sea," I would have liked to see worked into longer pieces, something a little more fleshed out, because the premise intrigued me, but the end left me wanting more.  I suppose this is the goal of short stories, but there seemed to be so much potential lurking beyond the end of these pieces that I would have loved to see what Gaiman could do with it fully unleashed.

"The Sleeper and the Spindle" and "The Truth Is A Cave In the Black Mountains" have both been re-worked by Gaiman and some partners into illustrated volumes; I haven't read either of them, but I can see why that was done, definitely.  They come across as the most fairytale like (and one of them is, of course, based on fairytales) and have just the sort of menace and whimsy that could lend itself to beautiful illustrations.  "Black Dog" is a story associated with Gaiman's full-length work American Gods, and is the second story released along those lines--I haven't read the first, but didn't feel it was necessary to understand this one.  Knowledge of American Gods, however, would be very useful.

Overall, I think if you like Gaiman's work, this is quite good.  Some of the pieces are very short, only a few pages, but the longer works help to bulk it up and are evenly-spaced enough to keep the book moving forward pas what could be considered weaker pieces.  Still, I like Gaiman's long-form better than his short, and can't wait until he comes out with another full-length novel.

3.5 stars out of 5.

No comments:

Post a Comment