Last week had a crazy day (Thursday, 4 Feb.). The day began with a sad trip to the vet (which sparked numerous thoughts for a different post) and some solid family time before the trek out to the new job and ended with a fight through evening rush hour traffic to listen to Neil Gaiman speak and read at UCLA’s Royce Hall.
Despite walking in (and nearly falling on my face on the way up the stairs) a half hour after the published started time, I had a fantastic time.
Neil Gaiman has always come across as collected, smart, funny, and personable online and in the recordings I’ve heard. In less mediated life, he is everything he seems in any other venue with the included element that if you wanted to rush the stage to pinch his cheeks, you’d feel his skin submit to your pressure before security tackles you to the ground (not that I did anything remotely this uncontrolled, but I knew if I’d really wanted to, I could have).
When I finally made it to my seat, Neil Gaiman was discussing something about Coraline, but what precisely his point was preceded me into the room. I did get to enjoy hearing him read from The Graveyard Book, Odd and the Frost Giants, and his poem “Instructions”.
The story of his son peddling his tricycle through the local graveyard, and inspiring Neil Gaiman to eventually write a book about the inhabitants of a graveyard raising a small boy waited until I was solidly settled. The revelation that Neil Gaiman’s son’s age is the same as my own made me count my years again to be sure (And, yes, we have currently spent the same number of years wandering the earth).
Neil Gaiman’s reading from Odd and the Frost Giants was lovely. He read the third chapter, which is one of my favorite parts because of the way the characters reveal themselves. The best part was Munchkin sitting next to me holding her copy of the book, bouncing with excitement listening to Neil Gaiman read the first book she ever bought and read by him (Munchkin isn’t much younger than me; she’s definitely more expressively enthusiastic about much in life).
He then had a question and answer section where he answered lots of questions that apparently were written by people in the audience sometime before I could find a path to UCLA. Some of his answers were straight forward, the ones that mentioned Amanda Palmer were adorable, and the unofficial, plausibly deniable confirmation of him writing a future Dr. Who episode was fantastic.
He ended the night with a great reading of his poem “Instructions” which will be an invaluable reminder when I finally find myself in the midst of a fantastic story. The night was delightful and now ranks as one of the best nights of my life. I wish that he could have had a time where he did personalized signatures, but I think he was quite busy in his time here, and I will simply have to keep that on my list of things to do someday.