The main influences of my high school years that have stuck are Anne Rice, Bauhaus, Joy Division, Nirvana, Nine Inch Nails, Tim Burton, and Neil Gaiman. I don’t know who I would be without those artists. They’ve directed me in places to go, how to dress, how to identify myself, and who my friends are.
Neil Gaiman‘s oeuvre contains graphic novels, short stories, children’s books, novels, a movie, and most recently, a video game. Each of his worlds is unique and complete. Regardless of how fantastical his stories become and how impossible his worlds are, what always exists are strong, empathetic characters with reason and accountability. That is what holds his creations together, a sense of understanding who the characters are before Gaiman takes us into unknown worlds with fantasy creatures that cannot be fully imagined in one’s head. His language is magnificent, effortless, and efficient. The dialogue is perfection: he had a lot of practice creating concise communication to fit into those panels and word balloons.
The first time I saw Neil Gaiman speak was when he was on tour for the tenth anniversary and reprinting (in hardcover) of American Gods. I got there forty minutes before he was supposed to speak and the line was around the block. He spoke in a church and I had to sit in the furthermost pews in the top of a balcony. (Yes, how very goth, but what do you expect from the author of the Sandman graphic novels, Neverwhere, and The Graveyard Book?) This time he was speaking at the A.C.T. Theatre and it was sold out, 1000 seats! I got there two hours early and procured a great seat.
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In my high school they used to pair up a senior with a freshman to show them around. I was an extremely quiet awkward goth girl who was paired up with a new wave Victorian goth girl named Mickey. Imagine my luck! We used to have lunch together in the rose garden in front of the Virgin Mary statue and talk about poetry and books. She used to carry around a copy of Anne Rice‘s The Vampire Lestat. The paperback she had was red with gothic lettering. It was so strange looking to me but I rushed out and bought the first in the series, Interview with a Vampire. I loved it. And then I read everything else. Everything. I reread my favorites multiple times. Eventually there were no books for me to read. I just had to wait for her to write another. I’d anxiously await them. In college those were my vacation books. Then I was in grad school and lost track of her. I didn’t forget her, I just didn’t have time. Continue reading →
There’s a lot of great literature out there, but the books that make you stay up late at night, the ones that make you ignore your phone, the ones that make you late to meet friends are few and far between. Continue reading →