Chaos Attraction

A Night With Neil

2006-10-03, 4:09 p.m.

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So, my writer's group all got together and went into Berkeley yesterday to see Neil Gaiman. Man, it was cool. Even Neil had a good time.

I gather the last time he'd been in Berkeley, he was there signing books till 2 a.m. So this year, they had him perform at Berkeley Rep, reading from the new book (Fragile Things), and sold books he'd pre-autographed before and after the show. Apparently he signs them with different pens and doodles attached. I got one with a heart on it (aww), another one in my group got one with a drawing of a rat on it! I've always thought that autographing has to be a real bitch for a famous person. They all end up doing nothing but making scribbles after awhile. Much to my surprise, you can tell that is supposed to be Neil's actual name. He explained to the audience that he thought this would be better than making everyone wait in line for hours, then they forget how to spell their name while Neil stares at their belt buckle. Heh.

Anyway, he put on a really good show. I keep thinking of it as a "show" rather than a reading because he was so funny and had attitude. Like, I like David Sedaris, but he pretty much just went out there and read aloud and that was it when I saw him. Neil did some Q&A stuff and was clearly having a good time coming up with responses. He had plenty of snappy repartee going on. He also seems to be the anti-Ray Romano- he makes even not particularly funny lines come out in a way that gets a laugh.

He read two poems ("Instructions" and "The Day The Saucers Came", the latter of which ironically reminds me of Dorothy Parker's "A Telephone Call"), commenting that some people get pissy when he does poetry, but hey, it's free and you didn't pay more for the poems, so what the hell. He also read two of the stories, the "Forbidden Brides" one, which was hysterical, and "October in the Chair," which has an ending I can only describe as bad, yet happy. Disturbing, but it works.

I wasn't even going to purchase the book that night- (a) hardback irritates me to carry around, (b) I don't buy too many books of short stories, and it took me years to get around to buying "Smoke and Mirrors" (ironically, I bought another book of short stories that day before going to the show!) and (c) I normally do not give a shit about whether or not I get an autograph of someone because I will probably lose it anyway. But I caved.

I have decided that my ideal career should involve reading things aloud and being snarky in front of an audience. I should get paid for that somehow, because I would be excellent at it.* Performance without actually having to have singing, dancing, or acting skills, yes!

* I said this to half my writer's group, and got a "I don't think you could be anything BUT" in response. True, true.

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