Thursday, 12 February 2015

Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances

by Neil Gaiman, 4 stars

A genre-hopping collection of short fictions from Neil Gaiman, intended to unsettle and disturb, which overall worked very well (for me – someone who much prefers novels to short stories).

As with any short story collection, this is something of a mixed bag – I have zero time for Doctor Who, even if he’s written by Neil Himself, and so Nothing O’Clock was definitely not my kind of crack, and I could have also lived without the Sherlock story The Case of Death and Honey, but these were completely overshadowed by my favourites which either took already familiar tales and twisted them (The Sleeper and the Spindle) or took mundane-looking lives and shone a light on their weird underbellies (My Last Landlady, Jerusalem, Feminine Endings). But my favourite by far, and a tale which alone made the book a must-buy for me was Black Dog, in which we catch up with American Gods’ Shadow as he visits a typical English country boozer and gets drawn into the lives of a local couple.

Perhaps strangely, one of the others that really stood out for me was the book’s opener, Making A Chair, in which our author writes about – you guessed it - making a chair. Quite an odd one to become a favourite, but it illustrated perfectly to me how much of a writer’s work is less inspiration and more actual work and that, much like an aspiring athlete needs to train, the most important thing any aspiring writer can do is just that – write. This somehow makes my work chore of pulling ‘stories’ out of one word emails for the weekly bulletin so much easier to bear…

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