inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #51 of 2008: Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Thu 15 Feb 01 20:23
    
Linda -- ick. I'd suggest that you drop a line to Barnes and Noble
head office, and tell them what happened. As Elise says, I'd assume
they'd want to know. Not because I'd like to sign there (from your
description of how they treat their customers, I'm not sure I'd consent
to sign stock for the Jack London Square Barnes and Noble)but because
if that's how they treat their customers (as Oscar Wilde said of Her
Majesty and her prisoners) they don't deserve to have any.

Michelle -- sounds like an awful lot of work just to baffle some
twits.

You know there are authors out there who would be made nervous by
discovering that their stalker-in-chief is into sharp and pointy
objects. Not me though, he assured her blithely.
...

Finished a rough draft of the Ramayana Treatment. Polish it tomorrow.

Also started something that was meant to be a short entry for the
American Gods journal that got out of hand, and I stopped at about 1500
words. The strangest thing about it was pulling out the little atari
and seeing the notes that I made for the book when it was just an idea
for a couple of characters (in June of 1997) and then watching it get a
story, and then turn into a book. And watching Shadow get a name.
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #52 of 2008: -N. (streak) Thu 15 Feb 01 22:00
    
        Neil, love the cover.  I'm a sucker for good road imagery, and I've
always liked lightning.  What do you suppose it is about roads like
that that make them so iconically American?  I mean, presumably other
countries in the world have long, straight roads here and there, though
England would obviously not be an example of such a country.  And yet
that image, that kind of perspective-exercise highway, is quite clearly
and even definitively American.  What's your take on this odd
perceptual phenomenon?
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #53 of 2008: Elise Matthesen (lioness) Thu 15 Feb 01 22:09
    
This is the land where the birth of the automobile and the possibility of
driving down a long road to the future intersected with the quintessentially
American desire to go somewhere far enough that things might be different
this time? That'd be my guess.

There's a stunning Bill Holm essay about what the people who stayed feel
about people who left.
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #54 of 2008: Roxanne Cataudella (rocky-nyc) Thu 15 Feb 01 23:56
    
Len - Your wife brought home a book called "The Clitoral Truth" and
you're scared of "The Vagina Monologues?"  *tsk*tsk*. ;p  

I saw it two years ago when Lady Miss Tree visited from Australia.
Very powerful stuff. And speaking of which, one Sunday afternoon last
year I ended up alone with Eve Ensler in the steam room of Equinox Gym.
We were just laying there sweating, and she started talking to me. I
didn't know who she was at first, and certainly couldn't see much from
all the steam, but she told me that she was a writer and mentioned her
most recent work TVM.

Since I had just seen it, I was curious about how she got such a
diverse group of women to reveal the most intimate aspects of
themselves. Well, the next thing you know, we're hip deep into this
amazing conversation about female sexuality. We covered our own
perspectives on it, and even discussed..in great detail how it affects
us differently through the lens of our own culture and ethnicity.

What a woman! 

I hope sometime in the near future a few men will be invited to
participate in some of the readings. That would be awesome. 

As a matter of fact.. Neil, you have quite a gift for mimicry and for
some reason I can picture you reading that story about an old Jewish
woman who finally got her first big O after almost 50 years. Must be
the way you've read Mrs. Whitaker's part in "Chivalry." Have you had a
chance to see TVM yet?  And if so, what did you think?

Michelle - Please ask Scott to drop me a line, I haven't been to
Thingieland in quite awhile but I'm up for anything that can't grab me
back. *grin* 

Btw, you're still the cutest stalker I know..um..want to know! ;D
Didn't Harlan want to have your baby?  Hehe.. 



 
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #55 of 2008: Roxanne Cataudella (rocky-nyc) Fri 16 Feb 01 00:32
    
Streak - Wrt, the American love affair with highways, outside of this
being the birthplace of the automobile, the open road is the perfect
counterpart to the so-called "..pursuit of happiness" which dovetails
nicely with that other elusive goal, "The American Dream," part of
which includes "..having a nice car."  

The very idea of those long open roads stretching out to the horizon
evoke memories of "Easy Rider".."happy trails".."US1".."Route 66."
These are the stuff of legend deeply ingrained into the American
psyche. Part of our national mythology, and a true testament to our
continuing the legacy of Manifest Destiny. Heading out..pursuing dreams
from one side of this vast country to the other. 

Is it any wonder that a huge number of Americans, after retiring,
spend a great deal of time on the roads traveling the country in their
RVs?  People like that are still a part of a still vibrant subculture
in this country. 

And look closely at all the car ads, they tend to appeal to an idea of
rugged individualism as portrayed by the make of one's vehicle. This
is further compounded by the fact that car commericals outnumber
everything else that is being sold 3 to 1. 

Anything and everything that is a cliched about being an American is
invariably tied to our mode of travel, the vehicles we drive, and the
ever present lust for the open road. 

It's a simple equation: Car + Highway = Freedom [being American!]
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #56 of 2008: Sarah A. Rudek who wants to go a'Waltzing Matilda. (whispered) Fri 16 Feb 01 00:34
    
"This is the land where the birth of the automobile and the
possibility of driving down a long road to the future intersected with
the quintessentially American desire to go somewhere far enough that
things might be different this time?" 

Damn.  Lovely way to put it, Elise.  And I have to say I agree.  

Then there's the fact that highways are still reserved for the global
elite.  They're just new and grey and work like spiderwebs for the
economy.  

I'm just waiting till America scraps all talks of the metric system
and switches to counting McDonalds in order to determine distance.
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #57 of 2008: Michelle Montrose-Hyman (miss-mousey) Fri 16 Feb 01 00:55
    
streak - I dunno, call it a _Grapes of Wrath_ sort of migration
imagery with me. I always hear the phrase 'road trip' as distinctly
American... not that other countries don't have their share, but then
it seems more like a 'safari' or 'jaunt' or ... well, you get the idea.
And after a couple of road trips thru the midwest (including one that
nearly landed one of them lightning bolts on my car... driving home
from a Neil-reading even!), the road on the cover couldn't be anywhere
but America.

Neil - She was much more rude to me than that. It's a personal issue
now. So no, no trouble at all.  (hmmm, <g> in light of the weapons
conversation, this probably sounds much more ominous than it should) 

Rocky - Dunno how successfully I'll be able to get thru to Scott, but
will try. As for Harlan, we discussed the matter briefly, and
apparently *he* is the one who had *my* lovechild... the logistics
still rather confuse me. He'll have to explain it on the cruise, I
suppose.

squeaks, who is amazed to find herself referencing Steinbeck.
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #58 of 2008: Emily Whetstone Hey (jizou-sama) Fri 16 Feb 01 04:18
    
Elise -- What a lovely crystallization of the American psyche!  I'd
like to read that Bill Holm essay.  Is it available somewhere online?
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #59 of 2008: Len (theboojum) Fri 16 Feb 01 05:19
    
Rocky-- re: afraid of TVM-- I suppose I overstate the case... and I'm
particularly sorry to have missed Winona Ryder performing bits of it at
that benefit.  And last night I survived a Sex and the City DVD
marathon.  OTOH, this past summer I was at an arts colony (called
Ragdale), and out of 16 people there, only two were guys.. and one
tended to stay cloistered up in his music studio.  Every night we would
get together on the porch for wine and talk, and at about 1:00 am,
when things got overwhelmingly estrogenated, I would bid them all good
night.  It was a pleasently strange land, but I was definately
something of a stranger.  OTOH again, I got to hear a lot that male
ears rarely hear.

Re: the road-- as a teenager I was obsessed with long roads and read
all those long-road books... Blue Highways, Zen and the Art of
Motorcycle Maintainance (which I still love,) On the Road, etc.  This
obsession, I think, came mainly out of being Brooklyn born and Queens
bred-- I wasn't used to views like the one on the cover of American
Gods. Nowadays, I find long road trips kind of boring and confining,
cause even if the road goes on forever, the car is only a few square
feet in area, and the company has to be really good (and you have to
have more than one tape, 'cause I once spent a 6 hour trip listening to
only the Essential Pogues and I came out slightly barmy.)


GLIB, PSEUDOINTELLECTUAL COMMENTS FOLLOW:

On the other hand, from an urban perspective, the city equivalent of
the endless highway is the endless skyscraper...  the road testifies to
the power of potential, the skyscraper testifies to the potential of
technology and finance.  Roads laid out over undulating landscapes are
female, thrusting 'scrapers are male, together they constitute the yin
and yang of the American landscape.

GLIB PSEUDOINTELLECTUAL COMMENTS STOP HERE 

Neil-- thanks for clarifying, and for the web link...  I feel less
stupid now.  I spent exactly one day in Chicago... I wanted to plan a
Pinkwater tour (the Clark theatre, "Old Town," whatever used to be Ed's
and Fred's hotdog stand, Bughouse Square) but I got sidetracked by the
Akhenaten exhibit at the Art Institute, and by the promise of a really
good restaurant for ribs only a cab ride away.  So now I have
something to go back to.

  
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #60 of 2008: Len (theboojum) Fri 16 Feb 01 05:29
    
Re: horrible bookstore publicity people:  I did a stint in grad school
working for Barnes and Noble; I was part of the staff that opened a
new store, and we were allowed to ask for the sections we wanted to
work in.  Being a drama head, I asked for the theatre section and was
turned down.  They didn't put a BIGGER drama head there, instead they
put someone who knew nothing about theatre.  A composer friend of mine
who opened a different B&N asked for the music section and was rejected
under similar circumstances.

I came to believe (and still do) that the last thing B&N wants is to
have workers that feel a sense of ownership over their section-- they
want people they can move around, and they're willing to sacrifice
having experts in the appropriate places to do that.  The issue isn't
excellence-- it's control.

The woman who did the publicity for my B&N... I don't know if she even
read.  She was a slick yuppie MBA who knew nothing that wasn't on the
bestseller list, an utterly boring person.  If I were her, and I were
surrounded by a slightly scruffy retail staff who knew they were more
literate than I would ever be, I'd get to feeling pretty angry and
defensive. And if someone mentioned an author to me who I'd never heard
of, I'd probably get nasty and defensive and stupid all over.

This isn't to say that these people should be forgiven.

It's to say that they should be rounded up and sent to gulags.
Especially ones run by Harold Bloom.
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #61 of 2008: Daniel Lofton (daniellofton) Fri 16 Feb 01 08:38
    
About the B&N jerks.  You probably don't want to go straight to the
head office from the get go.  I would see if I could get the number for
the district or regional manager first.  They have a tendency to get
much more pissed off when they have to deal with customer complaints
that could have been handled by the store manager or whoever.  That old
adage about the customer always being right is definitely far from
true but there is no reason for being an ass like that lady obviously
was.
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #62 of 2008: Daniel Lofton (daniellofton) Fri 16 Feb 01 08:41
    
Neil -- would love to read that rambling you talked about on the
American Gods website.  Maybe post it here if you decide not to there?
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #63 of 2008: Daniel Lofton (daniellofton) Fri 16 Feb 01 09:09
    
Ah yes, and one more thing.  Am happy to report that my sister-in-law
blazed through the copies of Stardust and Neverwhere I got her and my
brother for Christmas and promptly went out and bought Good Omens when
she couldn't find a copy of Smoke & Mirrors.  And I just ordered her
that last for her birthday.  So, another Gaiman fan in the bag.  Hmm,
that last comment kinda reminds me of the Kids in the Hall skit where
the two Canadian trappers are paddlin their canoe through the offices
and harvesting suits from the business folk.  Neil, don't suppose
you're giving out bounties for fan conversion pelts these days?  Heh.
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #64 of 2008: Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Fri 16 Feb 01 09:59
    
Daniel -- I've said I'll send the essay to my editor at Morrow,
instead of just posting it, as when she heard it existed she liked the
idea of having an essay for somewhere... if she hates it, I'll post it
on the site. And thank you so much for converting people to reading my
stuff...

Michelle -- there is no excuse for rudeness. But you'll get more
satisfaction by complaining upstairs than you ever will by showing
photos of huge signings. (I know lots of stores that hate huge
signings. All those people getting in the way...)
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #65 of 2008: Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Fri 16 Feb 01 10:01
    
more later, on cars and on roads...
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #66 of 2008: Michelle Montrose-Hyman (miss-mousey) Fri 16 Feb 01 10:43
    
Len - Small critters make for excellent road trip buddies. And I
understand the being-couped-up-in-a-car bit, but that's what windows
are for. (besides, it's nice to be able to close said windows and blast
the AC when it's 100+ out there!) btw, thanks for the Mad Max
reference. It has made my morning. :)

ack! late for work...

squeaks
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #67 of 2008: Elise Matthesen (lioness) Fri 16 Feb 01 11:37
    
Thanks, Sarah. And I remember that I should send you email, since we
have a raincheck on having tea, you and me and ... damn, I forget, the
other nice person from here who's in town. Sieve brain today, I got.

Emily -- I looked for a copy of it on the Web, but haven't found one.
(I did find a few links to his other work.
http://weberstudies.weber.edu/archive/Vol.%2011.1/11.1Holm.htm
has several short pieces up, some of which do seem to be from the
time about which he wrote COMING HOME CRAZY, which is the book of
essays with the wonderful line in it about what the people back
home think about the people who left. That line's in the essay
"Iceland".)

In this link, there's an interview with him in which he's talking
about having started out as a poet, and then wrote essays, and how
the essays have prose poems in there, and he says, "But you can't,
like warnings on cigarette packages, you can't have warning labels
on books, 'Danger, there may be poetry in this book.  Be careful.
It will bite you when you're not looking.'"
That's from
http://www.daily.umn.edu/ae/Print/ISSUE38/special7.html
And I did find the catalog entry, at Milkweed Press:
http://webdev.martinwilliams.com/milkweed/4_catalog/4_1_5_3425.html

Garrison Keillor called him a "radical humorist." 

Hey!  I just found my copy! Here's some of what I was talking about:

"It surprises and saddens Americans who go off to Norway or Belgium or
Wales or Poland or wherever, to realize that Grandpa's folks are not
interested in you, Grandpa, or your ethnic quest for a new identity.  When
they think of immigrants at all (and that seldom and cursorily), they
think 'good riddance . . .' Your grandpa was, after all, rubbish, one who
couldn't take it, and his exit to America solved all sorts of problems --
it cleared land, houses, jobs, wives, groceries, for the *real*
citizens.  Those citizens of any homeland watched the immigrant boats sail
west with a sigh of relief, and they still do.  When you, the descendant,
arrive back, bring plenty of hard currency, don't complain, and hang on to
your pre-booked return ticket back where you belong."

That's from an essay with another favorite bit of mine in it; look for the
exchange where the young woman in Xi'an (where Holm was teaching) says, "I
must learn from Comrade Wincie," if you want to find it.

I'll stop babbling now, but Holm really is an excellent
storyteller/writer/poet/essayist/whatchamacallit.
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #68 of 2008: Elise Matthesen (lioness) Fri 16 Feb 01 11:40
    
Oh, and Daniel is right about going to the district/regional manager first.
It's the person to whom store managers report that you want.
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #69 of 2008: Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 16 Feb 01 15:30
    

Well, of course, I pictured having that conversation and saying all the
things I really wanted to say, and then I thought, you know, I really
don't have the energy for this, and will it really change anything, and
what Neil said about how they treat their customers.

I mean, I can get really snippy.  I learned from my mom, the pro.  And
believe, I was not the least bit snippy with this one.

So, let's move on, shall we?

Michelle, what other stores with enough room are there in the East
Bay?  What about Cody's?
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #70 of 2008: cranky (gorey) Fri 16 Feb 01 16:24
    
Cody's is a great bookstore, and has the added bonus of being across the
street from Amoeba Music.
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #71 of 2008: Michelle Montrose-Hyman (miss-mousey) Fri 16 Feb 01 20:17
    
Cody's was the first store in the area to submit their formal request.
They're all but guaranteed a spot on the tour (she types with crossed
fingers... which is harder than it sounds). They have also <g> been
warned about the silly online fans from around here. Can't imagine
where they might have heard about us... the 'thingies' any way...
<whistles whilst staring at the ceiling>. Couldn't be that my fellow SF
Midi Mafioso web-buddy works there, and has seen my jacket, could it?
;-P

Unfortunately, Cody's and B&N are the only Oakland/Berzerkeley area
stores I found larger than, say, OCOH. Everything else is rather
valley. Which I might call around to any way.

squeaks, who works at Rasputin Music, but who doesn't hold a grudge
against gorey. ;P 
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #72 of 2008: Martha Soukup (soukup) Fri 16 Feb 01 20:59
    
Remember that The Booksmith has a nearby hall they sometimes take readings
(like Joe Jackson's for his memoir) to.
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #73 of 2008: The music's played by the (madman) Fri 16 Feb 01 21:35
    

You work at Rasputin, squeaks? I was there on Sunday. I wonder if I saw
you.
Going back this weekend, too. :>
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #74 of 2008: -N. (streak) Sat 17 Feb 01 01:57
    
        Now now, folks, Rasputin's and Amoeba are both durn fine stores, and
there's put-near enough business on Telegraph for ever'body.  There's
no cause to go a-gettin' riled. </lovableoldsheriff>
  
inkwell.vue.104 : Neil Gaiman: Countdown to American Gods
permalink #75 of 2008: The music's played by the (madman) Sat 17 Feb 01 13:27
    

Thanks, <streak>. Now where are them Dukes of Hazzard?

Today's Bizarro comic shows exactly what Neil should probably not do at his
signings.
  

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