This is not a review. For one thing, I'm not a reviewer; I do not review things (at least, not well). For another, reviewers get their reviews out on the evening of an event or the day following. Neil Gaiman, in Houston, spoke to a crowd of 2,600 at the Brown Theater at the Wortham Center last Saturday, and today is not Sunday.
I am not a reviewer.
I will attempt to give you an idea of what it's like to sit in the audience for an evening with Neil Gaiman, and I will do this with the help of the notes that I took. Notes. Well, I say that. It was rather dark in the theater and so I may or may not have captured the audio of the two-hour event on my iPhone. The theater strictly prohibited recordings and photographs and I absolutely did not take any photographs; this I swear. And if anyone asks me directly about a recording, I will deny having one, and you will never know if I am being truthful so you might as well not ask. There. I think we've cleared that up.
Neil Gaiman in Houston
Mr. Gaiman—and I will refer to him as Mr. Gaiman, because come on, it's Neil Fucking Gaiman—began the engagement with a story about a stint in Houston and Galveston some years ago. You know how rock stars will show up in a town, scream “HELLO, CLEVELAND!” (or wherever) into the microphone, and the crowd will cheer because he got the name of the town correct? Mr. Gaiman actually had a story about Houston and Galveston. That was nice. And he called this the luckiest place he'd ever been because he was so productive while he was here, and so it was a great place for writers. At that point my wife nudged me in the ribs.
The evening alternated between Q&A and readings of selected stories. Mr. Gaiman read questions from cards submitted by the audience. He said this was better than having people come to a microphone and I quite agree. I will not share with you the questions or answers, save for one bit of writing advice:
Finish. “You will learn more from finishing something that doesn't necessarily work than you will from beginning a hundred things.”
Mr. Gaiman read aloud several short stories as well as a pair of deleted scenes from the upcoming Good Omens television series. He called that reading an experiment, and I hope he got the result he wanted because the audience ate it up. The stories included “Freya's Unusual Wedding” from his collection Norse Mythology, “April” from A Calendar of Tales (PDF), “Orange (Third Subject's Response to Invesitgator's Written Questionnaire.) EYES ONLY.” from his collection Trigger Warning, and a pair of poems, The Day the Saucers Came and In Relig Odhráin.
What struck me most about Mr. Gaiman's presentation, and the reason I want to recommend attendance at a future engagement to anyone, is his style. Though his answers were off-the-cuff, every word seemed measured and carefully considered. It is a rare talent for someone to be at once so thoughtful and so quick without being clumsy.
Neil Gaiman is an inspiration in a live setting. I hope you have an opportunity to attend a performance one day.