Saturday, April 04, 2015

“Trigger Warning” by Neil Gaiman – Themes of the Universe

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman (Book cover)
Some works of literature are rather easy to classify, containing all the expected criteria of a certain genre and lying within the guidelines set for it.

On the other hand, there are those that blur the lines and by virtue of their sprawling content are not only hard, but sometimes impossible to classify.

However, upon closer review, it is these books that have brought to us some of the most revered works throughout history, some of which ended up spawning their own genres. Neil Gaiman is an author who seems to be a champion when it comes to that, and has done so once again with Trigger Warning, his latest anthology of short stories.

If you aren't already familiar with his works and style, you can expect the short stories here to be vehicles for the exploration of deeper ideas, albeit very enjoyable ones that don't necessarily require you to delve below the surface to enjoy it.

Otherwise said, whether it is simple entertainment or thought-provoking insight you are looking for, you'll find that the book has plenty of both. The types of stories you'll find here sprawl across virtually all the genres you can think of, with everything from horror ghost stories to science-fiction to meditations on life and death.

As you can imagine, the amount of topics covered by this anthology is simply enormous, and on its whole seems to be an all-encompassing meditation on personal identity and our eternal struggle with death, or ceaseless strive to understand and cope with it, perhaps even find meaning in it and the things we leave behind.

The prose is rather simple, easy-going and can catch you by surprise in terms of the complexity of the message carried versus the words used. There is no other way to put it, Neil Gaiman is a true wordsmith and knows exactly how to get the most out of his sentence structure and storytelling techniques. He is capable of stringing the reader along the exact path he intends to and make it look like a seamless effort.

The title itself is actually in reference to the concept of “triggers”, things that can cause averse reactions in some people, which in this case refers to the book's occasional darkness and dabbling into the morbid.

No, this is far from being the most horrifying book written in existence, far from it, but some of the stories do have a certain amount of heft to them, whether in their philosophical implications or in terms of the actual events which take place.

On the whole though, I would have to say that such a warning isn't exactly necessary and if you have been present in the world of literature for a little while it is highly likely you've seen much worse.

Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman (Book cover)
On the whole, Neil Gaiman shows once again just how much of a master he is when it comes to the short story format, delivering profound meditations, Doctor Who fan-fiction and the re-imagining of a Sherlock Holmes case amongst many other things without ever so much as stumbling.

Regardless of what type of fiction you prefer, you are going to find at least a few things in here that will engage you... this is certainly one of those books that cannot be classified easily, but one that is nearly impossible not to enjoy.


Favourite quote: "I am not scared of bad people, of wicked evildoers, of monsters and creatures of the night. The people who scare me are the ones who are certain of their own rightness. The ones who know how to behave, and what their neighbors need to do to be on the side of the good."


Neil Richard Gaiman (Author)

Neil Gaiman


Personal site

Neal Gaiman is an English author whose efforts have mostly consisted of short and graphic novels, comic books, audio plays and he even dabbled in films.

He received more than 24 awards for his books, including one International Horror Guild Award and one British Fantasy Award. Some of his better-known books include Stardust, The Alchemy of MirrorMask, and Smoke & Mirrors.

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