If you will forgive me a moment of indulgence, I’d like to brag a little.
I’ve read a LOT of fantasy over the years. Like, a whole lot. (If the last month of posts didn’t tip you off already).
I say this only to point out that it is rather strange that I came so late to the party.
The Neil Gaiman party, that is.
I read through Sandman several years back (amazing), as well as the graphic adaptation of Coraline (superb). But the love affair really got swinging this past year when I read The Graveyard Book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane, and American Gods most recently (see my review here).
I also like short stories.
So when I heard that ol’ Neil (that’s what I like to call him) had released a new short story collection, Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances?
Well, what choice did I have?
From the author’s introduction;
I first encountered the phrase “trigger warning“ on the Internet, where it existed primarily to warn people of links to images or ideas that could upset them and trigger flashbacks or anxiety or terror, in order that the images or ideas could be filtered out of a feed, or that the person reading could be mentally prepared before encountering them…
We build the stories in our heads. We take words, and we give them power, and we look out through other eyes, and we see, and experience, what they see. I wonder, Are fictions safe places? And then I ask myself, Should they be safe places?…
There are still things that profoundly upset me when I encounter them, whether it’s on the Web or the word or in the world. They never get easier, never stop my heart from trip-trapping, never let me escape, this time, unscathed. But they teach me things, and they open my eyes, and if they hurt, they hurt in ways that make me think and grow and change.
I wondered, reading about the college discussions, whether, one day, people would put a trigger warning on my fiction. I wondered whether or not they would be justified in doing it. And then I decided to do it first.
It will come as no surprise that the stories within are overall excellent with a few outliers, some truly superb, and others only interesting. Given the structure of the book, I’ll simply highlight a few of my favorites.
But not the poems. They’re nice, but not my cup of tea.