I’ve just gotten back into town after a trip to Helena to see author Neil Gaiman in person at the Montana Library Association’s annual convention. The English writer, who’s behind such graphic novel hits at the “Sandman” series and novels like Good Omens and American Gods, read an unpublished short story and answered audience questions before signing books–and yes, I got my copy of Fragile Things autographed.
My impressions… Well, I’ve been a fan of Gaiman ever since picking up an odd anthology of “Sandman” from comic fiend Colby Park, who used to work at the MSU Renne Library with me. From there, it was a short hop to Good Omens, which he coauthored with Terry Pratchett. There was something about their tone that gripped me from the first page. I don’t know what to call it except irreverence; the smallest details, the most mundane wanderings, took on an importance in the story that I’d only imagined. I suppose it had something to do with something Michael Sexson once said during an undergraduate class I took from him: “Digression is the art of storytelling.” When I read that book, I had physical evidence that Sexson was right.
On top of that wonderfully wandering style that incorporates myth and fantasy and reality in a way that few others have done, deconstructing the idea of genre as he goes, Gaiman has a wonderful presence and voice. On a trip, we once listened to an audiobook of him reading a few of his short stories. His charming accent is put to full use in a voice that was created to tell stories. I’ve heard Stephen King’s voice. If King could speak as well as Gaiman, he would transcend fully into godhood for me.
Nothing that Gaiman said was particularly surprising. Many answers seemed canned, like stories he’s told a thousand audiences before. But there’s still something to be said for seeing him in person, standing two feet away from somebody with that sort of imagination, spending $12 on his books. Plus, the guys got about a quarter billion dollars’ worth of movies coming out this year, including Beowulf and Coraline. It’s hot year for him, and I’m glad I got to experience it in person.
Oh, the title of the post: it’s one of two things Gaiman said that I’ll type here. First of all, someone asked him what helped inspire him. Gaiman said that boring places inspire him, and that interesting places were completely worthless for musing. I liked that thought, and I know I’ve experienced something similar when sitting through a few bad plays or movies.
Second, Gaiman recited what he calls “Gaiman’s Law”: If you manage to get a book published, the first thing that you will see when you open up that shiny advance copy is a typographic error.
I hope I get to find out.