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.
-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?
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.
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..
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!]
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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...)
Neil Gaiman (neilgaiman) Fri 16 Feb 01 10:01
more later, on cars and on roads...
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
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.
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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. :>
-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>
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.
Members: Enter the conference to participate