Short stories are probably the form that has survived best into the digital age, perfect for a condensed experience, as much an art form as the most unwieldly novel and in it’s perfect brevity, it can eclipse it with it’s focus.
For writers who want to scrub off the term aspiring, short fiction is the literary equivalent of the back squat, it gets you big really quickly. There are writers who commit entire careers to the form, and there is no bad thing about that at all. Raymond Carver, for example, and his work is incandescent and melancholy.
Trigger Warnings is a fantastic collection of Neil Gaiman’s short fiction. He writes in a delicious, mannered voice that captures the best of the influences that he bears with pride. He plays with genres in such a way that he finds the emotions that swim underneath,because he never gets lost in the trappings. He knows that the best stories are about people.
Read October. When you’ve dried your eyes, hugged your pet or significant other, asked the clown to get off the lawn, go buy the book. Gaiman does not patronise or talk down to you, he writes for the black sheep in the flock but with such beauty and delicacy that the rest of the flock want to listen.
He writes about Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who, and he makes them shine under his attentions, more than anyone has for me and I say that as someone who thinks that both characters have had fantastic returns to form under new interpretations.
Neil Gaiman is a brand in one sense. Except he’s a brand in so much as he writes really fucking well, has a lovely relationship with his audience and shares things. He deals with trolls and sarcasm (shade, snark, those ugly words that seem to be considered suitable for journalism, well Buzzfeed and Uproxx but that’s not really journalism is it? ) with unfailing politeness and decency. He’s a role model for the writer in the digital age, and his voice is a velvety suggestion.
Buy his book, treat yourself and thank me afterwards.