An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer

Image credit: Kimberly Butler
This past weekend, I dragged my husband along down to Bard College to spend an evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer (his wife - and what a cute couple they are!).  It was a lovely night with a pretty full crowd, made up of college students and the general public.  I noticed a few children, which was an odd sight to me.  I'm wondering, did those parents realize that Neil Gaiman isn't exactly a children's author?  I mean, I know he's written books for kids, like The Graveyard Book, but his adult stuff is about sex and monsters and there's a lot of the f-word involved.  I'm curious if the children went home saying "What a fucking awesome time, Mommy!  Thank's for fucking bringing us to this fucking reading!"  As much as I advocate for free reading and giving children the opportunity to see great writers in person, I don't know that I would have taken kids under 10 to this kind of thing.

Anyway...

I had such a great time hearing Amanda's music for the first time, experiencing the two of them as newlyweds, and experiencing several readings from works Neil has never read out loud to an audience before.  It felt intimate, and special, even though we weren't that close to the stage.  Neil's personality certainly came through in his readings, his conversations with Amanda, and even the songs he sang (yes, he sang for us!).



After a great opening song by a singer-songwriter named Sarah Barello (sp), Amanda appeared in one of the balconies with her ukulele, dressed in a striped dress and what looked like a bathrobe (but was really a pretty silk-looking robe, at least from where I was sitting), and started singing the song "Making Whoopie."  After the first verse, a spotlight appeared on Neil on stage, and he started singing the second verse!  The whole audience started laughing, it was just too funny to imagine.  They sang the song as a duet, which was wonderful, and at the end Neil began to read.

He read a story about a woman whose son was shipwrecked and eaten by his shipmates, which was funny and sad in only the way Neil Gaiman can write it.  There was a tale of a genie who meets a woman who wants no wishes but instead wins his heart.  And my favorite reading of the night was a tribute to Ray Bradbury, which was so intertwined with Fahrenheit 451 I felt that I was a part of the original story and the story that Neil read.  Only a few laughs escaped during this reading, most likely because it was somber and worrisome.  What would it mean if we forgot the most important things?  What would it mean if we were charged by God with remembering only one thing, and we forgot?  I left feeling closer to both authors than I have ever been before.

Surprisingly, I've only been to a couple of readings in the past.  I was lucky enough to have Naomi Shihab Nye and Steve Almond teach my creative writing classes in undergrad and then do readings at the school.  But that's it for me, so being able to see someone I've admired as much as Neil Gaiman in person was really special for me.  I only wish I hadn't waited so long to see him, as his upcoming book tour for The Ocean at the End of the Lane will be his last.

Tickets for An Evening with Neil Gaiman and Amanda Palmer at Bard College were $35 each, and luckily the venue didn't charge fees so we got away with paying the flat $70 for both tickets.  He is doing a series of readings, for which you can find dates at his website.  He is actually coming to my area, but again, tickets are $35, or bring a friend for $45.  I've never seen a bookstore charge for a reading before, but at least this one is throwing in a copy of the book with purchase of a ticket.  I've already pre-ordered my signed copy, so I'm debating whether I want to find someone who hasn't and split the $45 fee for two people + one book, and giving them the copy, or just suck it up and get a second copy and go by myself.

Comments

  1. Was this http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2013/mar/22/down-sunless-sea-neil-gaiman-short-story the story that he read?

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    Replies
    1. Yes, it was such a powerful story when it was read aloud. It actually looks shorter in print!

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