I have some surprisingly miserly instincts that started revealing themselves once I started living on my own. Yesterday I made myself try a carton of milk I hadn’t quite finished that supposedly expired five days ago because dammit when I say I’m done, I’m done. You don’t get to decide for me, milk carton. It ultimately did decide, though, and at least I ultimately spat out the giant mouthful of sour yuck.
Even which my lovely books, which I do almost give priority over food expenses, I get really stingy. What I can’t get in paperback or from the library, even by orders that take weeks, I do try to just furtively flip through, piece by piece in any bookstore that has the desired text on shelf. There are only a few books I’d break those rules for. Just about anything by Neil Gaiman would be one of those groups. Luckily for me, his knew book Trigger Warnings did come out just recently, so I allowed myself to have a really nice weekend.
Making those plans, though, I completely forgot that my darling bookshop Anderson’s made its own plans for the weekend. I’d even read about those plans. Some guy from Pretty Little Liars had popped out a book and was doing an appearance at Anderson’s. Reading the email, I remember thinking the place would surely be swamped by rapid prepubescent girls and that I’d better steer clear of the place. I remember this now. Then I was blinded by the allure of a brand new Gaiman book. Woe is unto me and mine feeble mortal mind. ‘Twould most surely lead me to mine own demise.
Sure enough, I popped in a bit under an hour before the Pretty boy showed up and the place was already swarming with hyped up, love drunk teens and tweens, along with some parents waiting in line to pick up the alleged “book.” It turns out the thing was mostly pictures, as I vaguely suspected. To my ultimate horror, it was easier to find the shelves of that coffee table paperweight than it was to find my precious Neil Gaiman. I looked all over the new release area, to almost no avail, until I finally saw it. The last one on the shelf, it seemed. Be still my heart.
Upon steeling in closer to finally grab the book, I noticed a golden sticker on the corner. On it were some words that just about any bibliophile should be warned of ahead of time, lest they swoon dead away. I was not so prepped, so I think that whatever happened next the fact that I did not lose consciousness was a win. Ready?
“Signed First Addition,” the sticker read. Those words only truly registered after a couple shocked seconds, and then my head did a second or two of radio static. Apparently I had an involuntary muscle response for just this sort of situation because when I finally shifted my attention from that sticker to what my body was doing, I realized I was jumping up and down. It may well have also been that that weird squeaking noise hadn’t just been in my head either. With that realization, I clamped my feet to the ground, my lips shut, and Trigger Warnings to my waiting bosom. My eyes darted around, but no one seemed to have noticed. Of course, I realized that if anyone had, they’d simply assumed I was just another PLL fan, frothing and geeking out like all the rest over their anticipated bae. The thought made me so unreasonably angry that I wanted to shout to everyone in the bookstore, right there and then, that excuse me but I was here to get excited over a real book so they could all just go home, thank you very much. Luckily, my lips hadn’t disengaged their high security clamp-down yet so I just quietly shuffled to the end of the ridiculously long line of bored dads and gaggling girls.
I felt a bit guilty over my imaginary inflammatory outburst though, as I waited in line. I mean, I could understand why these girls were excited. I’d had my Twilight phase, and even today I might shell out thirty bucks or so for a book that was nothing but selfies and photo spreads of my celebrity crush, (never you mind who that is.) In all likelihood, they would understand my outburst even if they’d learned I was geeking out over some book written by a totes ancient droopy British dinosaur who, like, remembers flip cellphones or whatever. I told myself they would understand, anyway.
Geeks, I ultimately decided upon that fateful day, should be tolerant of other geeks. We all, in the end, just want to love something bigger than ourselves, and for the most part we’ve gone about it more peacefully than many world religions. Just remember everyone, as I probably should from now on, that no matter how grating this or that geek of a fandom you don’t care about is, they have probably never gone straight up genocidal over a perceived disagreement. Probably.
Anyhow, the book itself. Yes. It was definitely worth my involuntary squealing kangaroo impression. I’ve even read some of these stories before. I didn’t think “The Sleeper and the Spindle” or “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains…” would be as fun or worth reading without the beautiful illustrations hey were originally accompanied by, but I was wrong. I read through both those stories again, and was glad I did so. I did a happy little geek dance again, this time in the privacy of my own room, when I saw he actually included a Doctor Who story, “Nothing O’Clock.” Also,Shadow from American Gods made another welcome appearance as well in “Black Dog.”
My favorite new surprise, though, was probably “Orange,” because of the unique form. Apparently, Gaiman said the story just wouldn’t work until he tried it in the form of a written questionnaire. I’m not sure I want to know what twisted path he took to eventually discover this answer, but I do love the idea, and his actual execution. It compliments his writing’s natural tendencies towards omission for mystique, and now I’m itching to try writing something like that myself.
Oh, and of course his signature is on the title page, in sepia brown ink that clearly came out of a fountain pen. An utter marvel, and well worth that whole ordeal. The whole thing, I mean… The whole book, that was worth it. Not just his… ah he… never mind. Just buy this book, freak out, and don’t let anyone look at you funny for it.