Book Review: Trigger Warnings by Neil Gaiman

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Two years ago I started a book club (Bad Wolf Book Club, to be exact) with a few of my friends. ‘Stardust’ by Neil Gaiman was the first book we read and it helped me fall back into my overgrown, and often neglected, love of reading.

Since reading ‘Stardust’ I’ve read a lovely handful of Neil Gaiman’s books and blogs and tweets. He’s a charming guy. I think we could totally be friends. I won’t lie, for a brief moment I considered transferring to Bard College so I could be in his writing class.

Recently, on a treat-yo-self style trip, I bought ‘Trigger Warnings’ and a cool af blazer. Wise purchases.

Trigger Warning is a collection of short fictions and disturbances. It consists of 310 pages containing 24 short stories. Well, some are poems.

I’d heard/read a few of the stories prior to reading ‘Trigger Warnings.’ Neil Gaiman read a few during ‘An Evening With Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer.’ (You should really listen to it.)

My official review is that it’s wonderful. It’s magical and character driven and imaginative and disturbing. And like all of Neil Gaiman’s works, it makes my imagination exercise (the only kind of exercise I’m actively into). My favorite kinds of stories are the ones that make me think about things in new ways. Or just in different ways.

I recommend this book for anyone who doesn’t want to commit to a long book. The stories are all short and engrossing. I really liked reading the stories separately, between other books and spending hours on tumblr.

I initially thought I’d rate each short story, but they’re all so fucking good in different ways. I can’t do it. So, I’m going to pick a quote from each of the 24 short stories. Think of it as a taste test. Or a word test.

Anyway, here we go:

Making a Chair’

“Stories are waiting like distant thunderstorms

grumbling and flickering on the gray horizon…”

‘A Lunar Labyrinth’

“With each step my knee would twinge, reminding me, angrily, of its existence.”

‘The Things About Cassandra’

“I wonder what will be left of his world in a few hours, wonder if I should have left well enough alone, a masturbatory fantasy, something reassuring and comforting.”

‘Down to a Sunless Sea’

“The rain washes the dirt into the gutters, and it swells streams into rivers, rivers into powerful things.”

The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains…’

“I stood there and did not move, but in my mind I was like an animal in a trap, questing and darting from idea to idea, finding no purchase and no solace and no solution.”

‘My Last Landlady’

“You strike me as a kind person. I hope your world is kind.

By which I mean, I’ve heard we see the world not as it is

but as we are…”

‘Adventure Story’

“Pterodactyls, dear. With a P.”

‘Orange’

“Just orange steam, really. Mum said that she had solvents and things in the laboratory, if we could get in there, but now Her Immanence was hissing mad (literally) and she sort of fixed us to the floor.”

‘A Calendar of Tales’

“In October I found a notice saying, “Normal Service Will Be Resumed as Soon as Possible. Honest,” taped to the side of the goldfish tank. Two of the goldfish appeared to have been taken and replaced by identical substitutes.”

‘The Case of Death and Honey’

“So it was, if the autumn of 1903, that I moved to Sussex, and spent the winter reading every book and pamphlet and monograph so far published, I fancy, upon the care and keeping of bees.”

‘The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury’

“I don’t think there’s a word for that, is there? Remembering things that haven’t happened yet. I don’t have a feeling I get when I go looking in my head for a work that isn’t there, as if someone must have come and taken it in the night.”

‘Jerusalem’

“She wore a sheet, yes, but she seemed intent, not mad. She was calm, frighteningly so.”

‘Click-Clack the Rattlebag’

“I’d heard the Coke story as a boy, and had been told, as an adult, that it wasn’t true, but was certain that a lie which promoted dental hygiene was a good lie, and I let it pass.

‘An Invocation of Incuriosity’

“Farfal was miserable, even when surrounded by marvels, even in a forgotten age, even in a world filled with miracles.”

“And Weep, Like Alexander”

“So, how exactly do you go about uninventing things?” I asked.

“It’s hard,” he admitted. “It’s all about unpicking probability threads from the fabric of creation. Which is a bit like unpicking a needle from a haystack.”

‘Nothing O’Clock’

“That was the trouble with hiding things. Sometimes, if you were in a hurry, you left them behind.”

‘Diamonds and Pearls: A Fairy Tale’

“I’m sorry,” said the girl. Diamonds dropped from her lips, rattled across the floor.”

‘The Return of the Thin White Duke’

““I am here to rescue you,” he told her.

“You are here to rescue yourself,” she corrected him.”

‘Feminine Endings’

“I thought about mixing in with the ink my blood or spittle, but no. There is such as thing as overstatement, yet great loves demand grand gestures, yes?”

‘Observing the Formalities’

“They would have invited me to the funeral.”

‘The Sleeper and the Spindle’

“Learning how to be strong, to feel her own emotions and not another’s, had been hard; but once you learned the trick of it, you did not forget.”

‘Witch Work’

“The tree was the oldest that I’d ever seen

Its trunk flowed like liquid. It dripped with age.”

‘In Relig Odhráin’

“He’s embraced in his damnation

by the simple words he uttered. There’s no Hell to spite the

sinners.

There’s no Heaven for the blessed. God is not what you imagine.”

‘Black Dog’

“It was one of the things we liked about the British: even if they wanted to know what was happening on the inside, they didn’t ask.”


You can find ‘Trigger Warnings’ by Neil Gaiman basically everywhere. But, I suggest checking out a local used book store!

Best wishes,

Amanda

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