Sunday, May 3, 2015

Book Review: Neil Gaiman's TRIGGER WARNING

HARPERCOLLINS/William Morrow – @HarperCollins @WmMorrowBks

AUTHOR: Neil Gaiman – @neilhimself
ISBN: 978-0-06-233026-0; hardcover (February 3, 2015)
352pp, B&W, $26.99 U.S., $33.50 CAN

Trigger Warning is a 2015 short story collection from #1 New York Times bestselling author, Neil Gaiman.  This hardcover book is published by William Morrow, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers.  This is the third major book of Gaiman's short stories, following Smoke and Mirrors (1998) and Fragile Things (2006).

Trigger Warning includes a never-before published story set in the world of Gaiman's classic novel, American Gods (2001), entitled “Black Dog.”  There is a Sherlock Holmes story, “The Case of Death and Honey.”  There is an ode to a beloved author in, “The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury.”  The story “Nothing O'Clock” was written for the 50th anniversary of “Doctor Who.”  There are more than 20 short stories; plus, there are some poems that can be read even by people who do not like poetry.

I have been reading Neil Gaiman for the better part of three decades.  When I first read a comic book by Gaiman, I thought, “This guy is really good.”  His novel, American Gods: The Tenth Anniversary Edition (2011), is a kind of Bible to me.

Over all that time, I could not tell you why I liked Gaiman's comics and fiction, other than to say, “This guy is really good.”  While reading one of Trigger Warning's short stories, “The Thing About Cassandra,” it suddenly dawned on.  I like Gaiman because he tells me stories.  He's a natural storyteller, and I naturally love stories.

I read a lot of prose fiction.  I have been entertained by writers who are considered to be part of a “canon.”  I have read fiction by writers who are beloved, even if they are not considered literary.  I have enjoyed fiction by writers who are not that good or have been forgotten, relatively speaking.

I open those books and start reading, and I find myself engaged, absorbed, engrossed, etc., all the while I am transported to other worlds.  However, for all the authors that I have read, not all are natural storytellers.  When I open a book written by a natural storyteller, it seems as if that author immediately starts telling me a story.  Sure, I am engaged in the act of reading, but it seems as if the storyteller is the one who is reading.  That author is reading to me, and I am just a listener, enchanted and hypnotized by the words of the storyteller.

I felt myself transported and maybe even trapped in the world of “The Thing About Cassandra.”  I wanted to run away, but I stayed to listen to the storyteller.  Damn, this storyteller Neil Gaiman is really good, I thought.  If you want to feel something like what I felt, buy Trigger Warning.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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