Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
Introduced by Lesley Arrowsmith of Hay Cinema Bookshop
Looking back on it, I’ve been a fan of Neil Gaiman’s since the 1980s, when I read his comic Black Orchid (though at the time I had no idea who the writer was – it was just that the story was so intriguing).
So I’ve been looking forward to his latest short story collection, Trigger Warning. The title comes from the internet, as a warning to readers that a piece of writing may be disturbing to them, so they can decide whether they want to continue or not.
Some of these stories are disturbing.
I also found that I had already read some of them. The Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains, for instance, was produced as a hardback picture book, subtitled “a tale of travel and darkness with pictures of all kinds”. The pictures are by Eddie Campbell, and the Black Mountains are on the Scottish island of Skye, not the Welsh ones near Hay-on-Wye.
The Sleeper and the Spindle has also been produced as a picture book, with illustrations by Chris Riddell – this is a re-telling of Sleeping Beauty and Snow White, with the women of the story taking a rather less passive role than is traditional.
The collection does not include the pictures, so the individual versions are certainly also worth getting.
There’s also a story about Shadow Moon, from the novel American Gods, which has been made into a TV series in the US starring Ricky Whittle as Shadow and Ian McShane as Mr Wednesday, his mysterious employer. In this story he’s in the UK, at a country pub – and there’s a large black dog….
There is a series of very short stories, one for each month of the year, which Neil Gaiman did as a collaboration with BlackBerry, each story being a reply to a tweet (such as “Why is January dangerous?”).
There’s even a story in which Sherlock Holmes goes to China to study bees, which was nominated for various crime writing awards, including the Crime Writers’ Association Silver Dagger Award – it didn’t win, but Neil Gaiman was delighted to have even been nominated, since he doesn’t normally write crime fiction.
So this collection is a rich feast, with many delights – but maybe not the best choice for bedtime reading….