Sunday, November 16, 2014

Dear Neil Gaiman

As a famous author, it is your job to let me know whether you are a good writer or not.  I tell people all the time that I am the best at writing, so that they can use their time reading my excellent work instead of debating my greatness.  I do this, because I care about my readers.

I read your book "Good Omens" in college.  It was good.  Really damned good.  Good enough that my roommate Scotty Bob, who lent me the book, and I aped the style for a theater scene we needed to write.  Thievery is the sincerest form of flattery.  However, since you are too busy writing books to keep reminding me that I like your style, I neglected to read anything else you wrote for about ten years.  This probably wouldn't have changed had my Amazon Daily Kindle Deal not had two of your books each for $2.  I vaguely remembered enjoying your work, so I bought Americans Gods and Neverwhere, then promptly left them on my Kindle unread for several months.    Then, when I was at a bookstore, they had a hardcover copy of Stories for $5, and I picked that up too.  It went on the bookshelf, unread as well. 

Finally, a couple of weeks ago, I worked my way through several other books I had been waiting to read.  Not many of them really stayed with me, and I wanted something good.  For lack of anything else jumping out at me, I started Neverwhere. 

I remember circumstances surrounding when I read several of my favorite novels.  I was home sick from middle school, and my mother picked up a copy of Dean Koontz's Tick Tock on a whim, even though she nor I had ever read him before.  My disease riddled body strained to stay awake so that I could read more.  Many years, and several other Koontz books later, she found a new novel by him, Odd Thomas, and purchased it for me for Christmas.  I still remember having to put the book down near the end because it was too much to take in.  I remember picking up And Then We Came to an End by Joshua Ferris at a Barnes and Noble right after graduating college, joyous that I now again had free time to read whatever I wanted, not just what I was told to.  I remember picking up Cormac McCarthy's The Crossing at the library on the way to work, needing something to read on a slow winter day while watching the phones.  I read it in two days, forsaking most everything else to keep reading. 

I'll remember sitting up at night and reading Neverwhere and inhabiting that world of London Below with the characters.  I was overjoyed to find that it was both a BBC miniseries as well as a radioplay, and I devoured both of those as well.  I regret that I may have taken years more to do so, however, since the simple cover gave no indication at the greatness that lay within. 

Had you taken the time to write me, call, or just name the book, "Hey Greg, You'll Love This", perhaps I could have arrived at this point some ten years ago, and been all the more happy for it.  No, you didn't though.  You were lazy, and I have so much lost time to make up.  Not to say that I automatically went ahead and read American Gods when I was finished.  That and Stories are still on the backburner, because you haven't told me to read them, and I never learn my lesson. 

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