Short stories explore secrets

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First Posted: 2/2/2015

There are many things that scare people. But if one were to broadly categorize them, we would find ourselves ruminating about our past and future. For some of us, that fear is even more specific, a code of warnings that we heed like superstitions. Do not walk on the cracks of a sidewalk; do not open the umbrella in the house; and if you are like me, never, under any circumstance, walk over a basement sidewalk grate. Of course, none of these fears are rational — until that day one of them comes true. You read the news to find that a man fell to his death through a basement grate in the city. What is scarier then — our past, our future, or our failure to heed those warnings? In his latest collection of short stories, “Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances,” author, Neil Gaiman, explores the power of our past, and the secret fears that we hope never become our future.

The collection, which encompasses twenty-five short stories and poems, focuses on a concept that has become increasingly common over the past few decades — trigger warnings. These upfront advisories tell us that something we are about to read and/or see may prompt intense memories and emotions that resonate with our past. As Gaiman notes in his introduction: [T]here is something about the process of putting together a collection like this that is both scary and eye-opening: when I put stories together themes reoccur, reshape, and become clear. I learn what I’ve been writing about for the previous decade.”

While readers will recognize some of the previously published works within, the rest of the collection is original. Many of the stories focus on Gaiman’s experiences in writing and the content thereof — everything from his love for Arthur Conan’s Doyle’s, “Sherlock Holmes” to his wife, musician, Amanda Palmer. Particular favorites include: “Making a Chair,” “Adventure Story,” “Diamonds and Pearls: A Fairy Tale,” “Witch Work,” and “Black Dog”.

Gaiman, has always evoked the darker side of imagination into reality. As demonstrated in the collection, Gaiman includes a variety of themes within — from sickness, death, abuse, and insanity to love, hope, humor, and absurdity. That being said, delve deep, but just remember, Gaiman has already warned you.