This has been another hard week in the journey of unemployment, and reading has begun to feel laborious--more like a job than I want it to be. Books are supposed to be the relief of. . . job searching? Ugh. It's mind-bending. Is it Neil Gaiman's fault that I couldn't get into this week's book, his Trigger Warning, (Harper Collins, 2015)?
He's a good (no, he's a GREAT) writer. So NO, it's not his fault that I struggled. I believe it's more accurate to say that I have simply been distracted, thinking about things that are beyond my control, and I'm letting unemployment get to me.
I'd never read Neil Gaiman before this week. I worked with a gal at the Morning Glory Bakery who used to listen to his stories through headphones while she rolled out croissant dough (at nine or ten p.m.). I'd have music playing over the iDock speakers, and look over at her. There she was, flipping a massive beige sheet over her arm, smiling serenely, utterly content. I'd bug her, ask her questions to make her remove her headphones. (She and I were often the only ones working in the kitchen at the same time, and I often just needed conversation). Once, I almost sliced off a piece of a finger and came to her, crying more in fear than anything else, and she took out her headphones and said oh, honey, what did you do, and I was so grateful.
So, wonderful croissant lady, cake decorator, friend: I salute you. Neil Gaiman is worth reading.
But Trigger Warning is a collection of short stories, many of them delightful, a few of them hard to get through. As with Claire Keegan in Week 2, I can't read short stories too quickly because I need to give each one just a little bit more time to sink in. I owe it to the story--I owe it to the author.
Here's the truth: I failed again. Another book of short stories I failed to finish in a week.
I don't have the energy to make excuses at the moment, so I'm just going to accept it, and add Trigger Warning to the short pile of books I didn't finish.
That said, I highly recommend you read this book--it's title speaks to, "death and pain, tears and discomfort, violence of all kinds, cruelty, even abuse" (xvii). A "trigger warning," Gaiman says, is a word which triggers discomfort in a reader. He notes that we all have different triggers, but usually, no matter what it/they are, they always. . . get us.
But sometimes, we need to read into those discomforts. Because there are stories behind them--and people deal with those triggers day in and day out, and hey, maybe by reading these stories, we'll get spooked out of our wits a little, but that's okay. Even good.
Good literature jolts you.
Stories from Trigger Warning that I did finish, and that I do recommend you read: "A Lunar Labyrinth," "The Thing About Cassandra," and "Jerusalem."
Next book: Ursula K. LeGuin, Steering the Craft: A 21st-Century Guide to Sailing the Sea of Story.