I've actually only read American Gods and Coraline, so I'm hardly a rabid fan, but I did enjoy them (especially AG), and he was reading from Anansi Boys, which is sort of a followup to AG, so who am I to complain? I really love hearing authors read their own work, though I don't manage to get out for this sort of thing all that often, so it was a great treat, and I really enjoyed it.
Perhaps even more than the reading itself, though, I enjoyed the Q&A period after he read. Now, forgive me for saying this, but, given the crowd, I would not have been surprised to find each and every question... well... stupid. Okay, okay, I know, these aren't dumb people, but I think we all know how much geeks like to hear themselves speak. And in front of such an esteemed icon of geek literature as Neil, I thought there were reasonable odds that we'd have some rambling questions that weren't really questions, but rather, an opportunity for the questioner to talk to Neil Gaiman himself! Happily, that was not the case, and even those questions that weren't really effective questions, Neil managed to turn into an interesting little tidbit or anecdote very gracefully.
Among my favorite bits were that he described a piece as "family friendlly" and then had to clarify that to him, family friendly is different from the American idea of family friendly, which means a movie you can put on and put your four year old in front of and then leave for two hours without worrying that your child will be bothered by being exposed to any ideas whatsoever. Another thing I liked was that he talked about how little bits of his psyche manage to peek through into his work, without his intentionally including them. He mentioned elements like angels, but he also commented that this leads to awkward moments at readings like this, when a grad student stands up and says, "Neil, I've noticed that in all of your works, about 3/4 of the way through, the way you signal that you're coming to the endgame is that there's a kiss. Would you care to comment on this?" Which apparently leads to him standing at the podium muttering all sorts of things that aren't appropriate to say in a church (which is where the reading took place last night.)
mizarchivist did a wicked good job of finding a place for us to sit, becasue the way they did the book signing had our section going up first. Pure chance, but good chance! I would not have stayed to get a book signed otherwise, but given that, I did, so now I have reading material for the plane today!
Speaking of which, I should finish up and zip out to the airport. See you all from sunny CA!