On May 3, 2014, 93 bookstores participated in the first California Bookstore Day. Created to encourage local shopping at independent bookstores, there were 13 original limited edition items produced specifically for the day. The items included new editions of old or previously unpublished works, art inspired by books and created by authors, a recipe box, a tote bag, and my personal favorite, a wooden stencil with a literary quote.
Many San Francisco bookstores participated and it was down to my two of my favorites, Green Apple and the Booksmith. The latter offered a party from 3:30-4:30 in the backyard of Sparrow on Haight. I was worried they would run out of items so I got to the the bookstore around noon. Booksmith always has an incredibly cheery front table but yesterday’s spread was especially fun.
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.
I have been going through my old books to see what I find. This is the third entry; I’m slowly combing through all my books. Sometimes it’s as boring as a muni pass or a receipt for the book I’ve found it in. Sometimes it’s something more, something I’d long forgotten, something that reminds me of who I used to be, and who I used to want to be.
This project is really fun but sometimes it’s a bit sad. It reminds me of things I’d forgotten, things I meant to forget. I’m not referring to this particular entry, just this project in general. We store things away to hide them because we can’t throw them out and yet we don’t want to see them anymore. And one day we find them and all those emotions reappear just as that item has.
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. Continue reading →