Book Review: Trigger Warning by Neil Gaiman

When I was in the detox unit at the hospital, they taught me about “triggers.” A “trigger” is something that brings back that old rush that heroin used to give me, which would make me weaken and want to go see the dealer.

Neil Gaiman’s new book of short stories is called Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances. It’s like a trigger that gives the good rush, but instead of going out to buy heroin, I want to read another story. His book is that good.

Gaiman says: “We each have our little triggers … things that wait for us in the dark corridors of our lives.” As soon as Gaiman said that, I knew exactly what he was talking about and had a desire to read the book.

In this book, Trigger Warning, all of the wonderful places of the imagination are brought to life. Even in the introduction, also written by Gaiman, I was “triggered” and couldn’t stop reading. In many books, I read a few sentences of the introduction and jump straight to the story. In Trigger Warning, I couldn’t even stop reading the introduction.

There are books of short stories that are like crap shoots. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. In Gaiman’s new book of short stories, they’re all winners. It was a rush.

You see, my new addiction is reading. There is nothing better than settling down in a comfortable chair or lying on the bed and reading a great book. Trigger Warning is a great book. Neil Gaiman’s talent shines like it did in his graphic novel The Sandman or his book American Gods.

When this man sits down to write, the story flows, and you can tell that it’s been percolating in his mind for some time. One of the short stories is called “Black Dog” and it’s done so well that—as a writer myself—I could tell Gaiman must have left it out of American Gods and that it wouldn’t let him rest until it spilled out of the miraculous trap door of his imagination.

Gaiman has been cursed. If he doesn’t let the stories out, they will come to him in his dreams and haunt him, wake him up in the middle of the night and, like a wild beast, chase him to the computer screen or pen and paper until he lets the story out. Imagine being trapped in a body full of moving illustrations that have beginnings and endings and not being able to rest until you let these “trigger warnings” out.

Included in this thrilling group of stories is the novelette called “The Truth is a Cave In The Black Mountains.” This story was also separately published and illustrated by Eddie Campbell and won the Locus Award.

Gaiman’s stories come from the dark places that live in our minds. When you read them, they change your perspective on reality.

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman was released on February 2 by William Morrow, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.

Marc D. Goldfinger is a member of the board of directors of the Homeless Empowerment Project, which publishes Spare Change news. Formerly homeless, he serves as the paper's poetry editor.

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