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Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman


As one of my colleagues put it, short stories are tough. I agree, to an extent. And when it comes to the near-psychedelic themes of the brilliant Neil Gaiman, I agree completely. 

Trigger Warning is a collection of short stories (and sometimes poems) ranging from a couple of pages to a couple of dozen. The premises are varied, mostly fantastical, and some are outright brilliant. While they are not yet as eccentric and macabre as Roald Dahl's ones (of which I am a huge fan), they read well enough. There are a couple of spin-offs of old fairy tales, a Doctor Who story and an extended universe of sorts of American Gods among others. (The last one was my favourite). 

One way or another, the stories serve their purpose of tickling your curiosity. Some like Truth Is A Cave In The Black Mountains or My Last Landlady seem definitive enough - which, consequently doesn't make you think too much - others, like A Lunar Labyrinth end the typical short-story way, with any number of possibilities. The latter kind begs for more clarity and that tingling blink-and-miss clue or an acute gut feeling is all you need for closure. And then there are varieties in terms of the perspective of narration; Orange masters that by relaying an entire bizzare situation through nothing but the answers of a young girl to a questionnaire that can only be imagined. The fairy-tale spin-offs were a mix: the poem (Observing the Formalities) was outright excellent, the prose was a bit like a movie (and hence less cerebral).

This work is like the scraps of fabric left from stitching up an elaborate and intricate gown that is Gaiman's work, and for those who are well versed with the same, Trigger Warning would appear as an extention into that world. It doesn't solve their problem of having had enough of the author; rather it serves just the opposite purpose. For the uninitiated though, I wouldn't suggest this book right away. Start with American Gods. Or better still, Neverwhere

The title of the book is the biggest punchline: the tantalising (or terrorising) possibility of tremors that could be a foretaste of something bigger (and mostly vile). 

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