So, it's been a while...
But I just had to post tonight. hofnarr
and I went to the Neil Gaiman event at FIT - he was being interviewed by John Hodgman from the Daily Show...and it was seriously awesome. Even John Hodgman, who is (and was this evening) incredibly hilarious, dropped his persona for quite a while, and instead just seemed touched and moved and fannishly awestruck like the rest of us. Despite the preponderence of some of the scary!fans [which included the remnants of one of the bands at my high school - called Lack Thereof, and rightfully so!], it was really lovely. Like really lovely. I'm not usually fangirly about real people - more about fictional ones. But with a writer, especially one that I've been following for so long - it feels different. Personal. Somehow those dimly lit 3 o'clocks of the morning filled with the Endless, the tears at The Kindly Ones
and the Wake
; enspelled by Neverwhere
, being enchanted by Stardust
and finding for the first time, the magic of America in American Gods
, the way his novels always seemed to magically mirror shifts in my own personal aesthetics; his language, and the stories, above all the stories - without a doubt, I think, he is the writer I would most like to be like, beautiful and witty and fey all at the same time.
I know him, not in the way of a friend or a lover or a real person, but in the way that stories meet and collide in some Elsewhere, I know him. And I think he knows me too. And maybe you as well, if you've read the stories, and they mean something to you. I always thought he must understand, and then I read Anansi Boys
and I knew for sure - because the dedication reads: "You know how it is, you pick up a book, flip to the dedication, and find that, once again, the author has dedicated a book to someone else and not to you. Not this time. Because we haven't yet met/have only a glancing accquaintance/are just crazy about each other/haven't seen each other in much too long/ are in some way related/ will never meet, but will, I trust, despite that, always think fondly of each other...This one's for you. With you know what, and you probably know why."
Cheap, they might say. But they wouldn't have been there, that day, where he was, and I was, and Edie was [and about 1000 other fans - he didn't leave that day till he talked to every one.] That day, the very last time I was in the World Trade Center - the first time I met him, if you can call it that. I remember going up to meet him, and seriously thinking my heart might explode, it was pounding so hard. Edie was with me, and held my hand, and I did not burst. But I got up there and handed him the little post-it with my name on it, and he looked at it, and said, "Kali? I put you into American Gods
," and smiled. And I gibbered, and choked out something maudlin, about his stories and how they got me through nights that I thought would never end, and he smiled again and said they did the same for him.
I got a copy of Neverwhere
signed for Daniel too, I remember - and then much later, last summer in fact, Daniel gave me the best present ever - from his second road odyssey - a ticket from the House on the Rock, signed to me by Neil. Those who call that dedication a stunt, wouldn't have been there on that
day either, when Daniel got that ticket signed, and told him it was for me, and re-told him the story about that day in the WTC Borders, and he stopped, and added three kisses to the bottom of his signature for me. I'm looking at it now, and it still makes me shiver.
And they wouldn't have been there today either, when he changed my opinion about his poetry, which I used to think was quite terrible, but today was actually charmed by, and when he signed the copy of Fragile Things
that Daniel and I bought together to both of us, and smiled when I told him we'd been sending signed things of his across the country for years, and now finally we could get one signed together in the same place. And he stopped signing, and took my hand and did not let go for several incredibly long moments when I said that I had nothing clever on offer, so all I could say was thank you. And we looked in the book, and it had a little message - "Fragile wishes" [everyone else just got butterflies].
And hey, when asked the inevitable question about fanfiction, he said, go thou, and write with my blessing - but he had to say that his mind was not meant to encompass such things as the RPS fic about him and Terry Pratchett. He suggested instead that we "go back to making the nice boys in Harry Potter
mate," to which I say, thank you, Neil. And I will.