I had a whole review written out and then the internet decided to be a nuisance and cut out when I saved it, so let’s try again. In his introduction Gaiman questions if fiction is a safe place; then he questions should it be?
“We are all wearing masks. That is what makes us interesting. These are stories about those masks, and the people we are underneath them.”
Trigger Warning is unsettling, it’s weird, and it’s all over the shop. He muses that short story collections should have a link, and not be higgledy-piggledy; he then apologises for ignoring his own ‘rules’ and publishing such a mix. And within a mix this diverse comes the fact that you probably won’t fall head over heels for everything, but finding some real gems in there is enough alongside what might otherwise feel okay.
The imagined couple is one that stood out, the kind where I finished it and turned my book around to be like “You would not believe what I just read!” and tried to explain it. The real stand out, however, was The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury. My initial review included endless rambles about why I found this wonderful, although it could probably be condensed into one or two sentences, so I’ll give that a try: It’s moving and it’s striking, it’s forgetting things of importance in your life. It makes you sit and think, it makes you sad, it makes you wonder what you’ve forgotten that at some point made a connection to you or felt like the most important thing in the world.
It’s the gem of the entire book. Overall, it’s got it’s real unsettling moments, it’s got some that you can breeze by a little, and then it has those stories that, whether snappy or more long-form, will reach out and grab you. I will be talking about the Ray Bradbury story for a long time to come, and that’s what this book will always remind me of when it comes up in conversation. That’s what short story collections are for me, those snatched moments that will last beyond the collection; and if it has those, then it’s a good one in my book.