Short stories are some of my favorite things – I love watching writers create amazing, compelling stories in only a few pages, leaving an incredible impact behind.
Short stories take a certain talent, and when you find an author who is great at those, you need to stick close to them. Some of the more famous short story authors are people such as Edgar Allan Poe, Ray Bradbury, and H. P. Lovecraft, but there are many writers who focus primarily on novels that do write short stories. This gives us a lot of access to some incredible material!
Let’s fast forward to newer authors who are taking a spin at short story writing. It seems like short stories aren’t near as popular as they once were. Maybe because we don’t publish a lot of popular story magazines all that much anymore. I do think short stories are becoming popular again, though! They are great to read when you are on a lunch break or if you just need something to read to take a quick break from a particularly heavy book (cue Doctor Zhivago depression).
I am always on the look out for short story collections and have quite a few in my library varying from collections written by one author to collections curated by an author or two and written by multiple authors. In my collection of short stories, I have the newest collection by Neil Gaiman. I love this man’s writing, he is my favorite living author, and I’ve read a huge selection of his books – though I am nowhere near finished with all of his books.
Neil Gaiman’s latest short story collection is called Trigger Warning and is aptly named because these stories are all pretty dark. Some of his recent popular short stories such as Truth is a Cave in the Black Mountains and The Sleeper and the Spindle (which isn’t available on its own in the US yet!) are in this collection, as well as another story within the American Gods realm called Black Dog. This collection also has some very heart touching stories such as The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury, which was written by Gaiman as a sort of letter to the famous author before he passed away. And, of course, some very spooky stories and odd stories (it wouldn’t be a Neil Gaiman collection without that, now would it?).
As with each short story collection, there were stories that deeply resonated with me, some that were just plain fun to read, as well as some that I didn’t find interesting. So it goes with all short story collections. (Maybe that is the drawback of short stories for some people? If so, you should try to break out of that because you’re missing out on some other incredible stories!)
I loved his take on both Snow White and Sleeping Beauty in his tale The Sleeper and the Spindle, and loved seeing a Doctor Who story, as well as meeting up with everyone’s favorite high-functioning sociopath, Sherlock Holmes. It was a great read, and I even found myself re-reading a few stories after finishing them.
Some of my particular favorites are (these are not in order of my favorites, just in order of how they appear in the book):
• The Thing About Cassandra
• My Last Landlady
• The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury
• Click-Clack the Rattlebag
• Nothing O’Clock (Doctor Who short story)
• The Sleeper and the Spindle
• In Relig Odhráin
All of the stories in this collection have a varying amount of horror, creep-factor, and humanness that is hard to find in most stories nowadays (do I sound old?). You see just how much influence Ray Bradbury had on Neil, and how much he meant to him just by reading Neil’s stories, especially this particular collection. It is really hard to explain, but if you like Ray Bradbury, I think you’ll enjoy this collection.
One of the things I really liked, outside of the great stories, was how Neil introduced each story with a blurb in the introduction. What I did was read the intro up until that point, and then made my way back when I finished a story. Knowing what prompted the short story or why he wrote it really helped give new life to them. I started with my own experience while reading and then learned his intentions – I love when I can do that.
(If you are one of those who skips over introductions then you need to do two things:
1. Always read the introductions to ANY book,
2. Definitely read the introduction to Trigger Warning.
Introductions are seriously great, and you never know what you’re missing out on if you ignore it.)
This is a great short story collection and one that I definitely plan on reading again. If you like spooky, Doctor Who, Sherlock Holmes, macabre humor, and the like, then this book is definitely for you!