(27 Mar 2015)
Today I started reading Neil Gaiman's new short story collection "Trigger Warning" and I must point out one glaring flaw.
The text on the inside front cover of the dust jacket refers to Neil Gaiman as "the beloved storyteller."
While I am sure he is loved by many, "beloved" is hardly the right adjective.
Mother Theresa was beloved. Santa Claus is beloved. Would you call a spider "beloved"? No, you would not.
What Neil Gaiman is, is a class A trickster, a conjurer, a charlatan. He pulls you in with a story, which you dutifully gobble up. At the end, you bark a laugh or say "huh" and go about your business.
But late at night, you wake up, and see the curtains moving without a breeze, hear a floorboard squeak where no footfall should be, see a shadow that's gone when you rub your eyes.
And on waking, there can be only one logical conclusion: that such terrors you saw in the night exist not so much in the real world, as in your own head, where they are in a way far more dangerous.
To be fair, Neil Gaiman did not put them there. But he opened the cellar door, he pulled aside the cobwebs, and took the shackles off the monster. And now it's roaming freely in the corners of your mind.
For this bit of magic, we love him. But you would hardly call a person who does that beloved. Respected, let's say. Possibly revered. No, we need a word with more trouble in it, more menace.
I'm not sure what it is, not having a thesaurus handy. I'll let you decide.
For now, I'll go finish reading "Trigger Warning" and perhaps the word will be there. Or more likely I will find it, hiding in my mind's cellar, behind the coal chute, in that dark corner that that tricky magician is about to show me.