Friday, July 14, 2017

An Evening with Neil Gaiman

July 9, 2017

One of the things I was most excited about in DC was the opportunity to see a wider selection of artists and performances. Though I was primarily thinking of musicians, the chance came up to see Neil Gaiman at a nearby amphitheatre and I had to go. My love of Gaiman's work has been well documented on this space; I'm gone through multiple Gaiman-reading binges and aside from his very young children's books have read everything he's published. As soon as I heard he would be coming, I bought myself a lawn ticket and waited for the day to arrive.

I had planned to go on my own as I don't know many people in the area who would interested in attending such an event and I wasn't going to let the opportunity pass simply because I'd be alone. The morning of, however, I was discussing my plans with a friend, who excitedly said, "Oh I was thinking of going to that - do you mind if I tag along?" So, rather than solo picnicking on the lawn, I found myself with some Target snacks and fruit, a good friend, and her hastily packed dishes of curry, cake slices, and a nearly empty bottle of whiskey. 

The two hours Gaiman spent onstage were as wonderful as I could have hoped. He didn't have a set plan for the evening - that way, he said, "nothing could go wrong" - so instead he alternated between reading sections from selections of his books and answering audience questions. He read the June piece from "A Calendar of Tales" and a humorous tale from Norse Mythology, and closed with the seemingly spontaneously picked "Click Clack the Rattlebag," giving the night a spooky send-off. He answered questions covering all topics, from his thoughts on imagination (it's too often denigrated when seen in youth), what it's like raising a toddler now versus before (he's aware now of how quickly time passes), how he got Amanda Palmer to agree to go on a date with him (it's a long story), and how to push past writer's block (he thinks it's a myth). He even recited Lewis Carroll's "Jabberwocky" poem from memory at the request of an audience member and included a reading of "The Day the Saucers Came," which was met with a collective "aww" from the audience.

Having never seen an author in this sort of setting before I wasn't sure what to expect, but this casual setup made the evening seem more relaxed and intimate. Seeing Gaiman in person was such a wonderful experience, and I'm looking forward to finding more such evenings with other authors in the future.

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