On Saturday, I went with three extremely wonderful people (Dana, Emily, and Lauren) to see Neil Gaiman read from The Graveyard Book in Palo Alto. It felt strange, but good, to sit in a theater with about 600 people of all sorts--old and young, alone and in big, cheerful groups-- who were all there to listen to someone read them a story. Everyone leaned forward in their chairs, laughed at the funny bits, and held their breaths at others, and listened as Neil told us about a young boy named Bod who dances with the ghosts and the living, and sees the first of the winter snow. It was a magical kind of thing, the sort that I wish could happen more often.
There's a video of the reading here, though it's more fun to start with the first chapter (we got the fifth, "Danse Macabre"). We also got an interlude, which is called "The Convocation," one of my favorite words. It makes me think of witches and crows, for no good reason, really (I think the proper words are, "coven" or "congeries" and "murder," respectively). And then, as an extra treat, we got some bits from Henry Selick's film of Coraline, and "Blueberry Girl."
The stage was full of gravestones, and Neil had a leather armchair with a funny looking lamp and a fake crow. There was also a spider that drifted down from the rafters and almost landed on a small boy's head.
Before the reading, we had pizza. Not ordinarily something to be boasting about, though I love pizza madly, but this was a delectable pie that introduced me to the thrilling combination of ricotta and lemon zest. Fluffy cream cut with bright yellow sourness. Not something you'd expect on pizza with all the fixings, but astonishingly delicious. Pizza Chicago.
It was a good evening all round, but the very best part was standing around in our little foursome, talking about Clarion friends and writing and books, and enjoying each other's company.
Oh. Have also discovered that Saint-Saens's Danse Macabre is even more infectious than usual when played on a banjo. It sounds mad and a little funny, and it begs you to get up and dance.