I’ve seen Neil Gaiman perform live only once before, and I knew I had to go again. I say ‘perform’ because a Neil Gaiman book tour isn’t what you would expect, and he has such a stage presence it’s impossible not to be drawn in to his world of fantasy and dark humour.
Before a nearly full room at the City Recital Hall in Sydney’s Angel Place last Friday the 25th of January. Upon entry, every person attending the event received a free copy of the first 3 chapters from Gaiman’s upcoming novel ‘The Ocean at the End of the Lane’. Although the book isn’t set for release until June, this unusually early titbit already had me desperate to read more.
Once Gaiman took the stage, he had the audience’s attention completely. Originally setting out to write a sequel to the well know ‘American Gods’, Gaiman said of his new book, “…it was just a short story that got away from me…”. As he read through the first two chapters of the excerpt we’d been given on arrival, it occurred to me that his is the voice I always imagined when reading his stories; deep, slightly gravelly, yet full of expression.
He held the audience captive in a way I never expect from a book event. But he doesn’t just read, oh no, he spent the second half of the evening reading from a new children’s book he was working on with the help of the talented string quartet, Fourplay. It’s strange how similar to a movie a story becomes when being read aloud with music to match the mood. The image didn’t need to be on a screen, it easily played in my mind’s eye. To finish the evening he answered audience questions, everything from serious literary questions, to whether he’d rather face 100 duck sized horses, or one horse sized duck (it was the horses).
I for one, a huge fan of Gaiman’s work, and I can’t help but be won over by his personality. He noted that “…the world is divided into people who run, and people who amble”, claiming himself to be the latter. If that’s so, I hope to also be one of the amblers.