Friday, November 30, 2012

Neil Gaiman: An Evening of Stardust

Late last August, the four lovely people I live with and I bought tickets to see Neil Gaiman speak. There are few warm fuzzies as warm as a collective "squee" with four of your favorite folks! Mr. Gaiman is my favorite author, and I've been following his tweets for almost as long as there's been a twitter. On Nov 14th, (three Wednesdays ago) the long-awaited event took place; and it inspired me, in part, to make this blog.

The show (can we call it a show?) was hosted by "Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures" which is a joint venture of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh and the Carnegie Museums of Pittsburgh. The main library branch and the natrual history/art museum(s) are neighbors. And sandwiched between them is the beautiful Carnegie Music Hall where the event was held.

Carnegie Music Hall Exterior
Before the show, three of us had dinner in the library. (They have special areas for food, and I'd brought Chipotle.) I couldn't help but wonder if Mr. Gaiman had taken a tour of the place. (I dreamt of finding him reading in a tucked away corner somewhere.) My housemate who works there said she wasn't aware of him visiting though. That makes me a little sad, because he's such a huge fan of libraries and an advocate for their survival. This is the biggest, prettiest library I've been in, and I think he would like it.

Anyway, the theater is spectacular! I had never been inside before, but I have ogled the lobby from the Museum lobby, and I'd bought a post-card of it. If I were made of money, I would've had my wedding reception here. So Pretty!!

Blurry pictures of the lobby full of Gaiman fans

I was sort of surprised by how young the crowd was. But it's in the neighborhood where all the colleges are, so I guess that makes sense. There was also this fantastic sense of kinship. We were all here for Neil.

Blurry pictures of the theater proper

We arrived super early because our seats were the cheapo, general admission, top balcony kind. I was so excited that it didn't seem like waiting at all! We managed to score front row seats too! I think we had a better view than a lot of folks with spendier tickets, and I felt rather silly for wasting so much time hunting for my opera glasses.

Our view of the illustrious storyteller
(...making a weird face in my only non-blurry picture of him)
The event was called "An Evening of Stardust" because Gaiman wrote a book called Stardust. It's a lovely book which has been made into a swash-buckle-y movie. Originally published in 1997 as a graphic novel with illustrations by Charles Vess, it was later re-packaged as a plain old novel. This year it was released for the first time in hardcover.

Special 15th Anniversary Hardcover Edition

Neil told us how he wanted it to read like a book from 1922, and he asked his publisher to make this hardcover copy look and feel like that too. He read us a passage and told us about how he'd been inspired by a shooting star in the Arizona desert. I love listening to Mr. Gaiman read his books aloud!

Then he read us an excerpt from his newest book, The Ocean at the End of the Lane which won't be out until June 2013. It was a special passage which had never before been shared with an audience! He explained that it involves characters he made up as a child, and as such, is a bit more personal than the things he's published before. I am super excited for this book! It is an adult book with a child protagonist, which may confuse some people. But it was charming, and surprising, and exciting, and very pleasantly weird.

After all this talking he took a few questions. Of these, I was most excited about news of his next Doctor Who episode. (It is easily my favorite TV show.) He shared a secret spoiler, and then asked all ~2,000 of us not to tell. I just did a quick Google, and it looks like no one has told yet. Now that's a fan-base!

After I got home, I sent @neilhimself a tweet. I told him it felt like he'd just sat down in my living room for a chat, and it's absolutely true. It wasn't a show. It was just a friendly storyteller doing what he does best.

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