Neil Gaiman visits Tulsa, where one of his favorite writers lived

Here’s the article in the Tulsa World. I was there. I would have enjoyed myself a lot more had I not been sick. Allergies, I reckon. I felt like I’d been hit by a steamroller and my mouth developed a dry fuzziness which had me looking longingly at the nearby woman who’d been wise enough to pack a Coke into her purse. The stiff, immovable seats of the Performing Arts Center somehow didn’t help the fact that antihistamines are potent knock-out pills for me.

It was apparent Neil Gaiman was genuinely excited to be in Tulsa. He explained that one of his favorite writers, R.A. Lafferty, lived in Tulsa so he’d been intrigued by my hometown for over thirty years. He said he wrote his first fan letter to Lafferty and the two developed a correspondence which lasted many years. Then he apologized for his “ridiculous accent” before he read Lafferty’s short story Seven Day Terror, which had the audience cracking up although they hadn’t initially warmed to the idea of Gaiman reading someone else’s work. His accent and sense of timing actually served the story about a “disappearing device” made out of a beer can very well. He claimed it was the first time he’d performed a reading of a work that wasn’t his own.

When asked what was the best piece of advice he’d ever gotten, Gaiman told a story about what Stephen King once told him, but then he amended his answer saying Harlan Ellison told him how to shave a coarse beard with conditioner and that that had been the best advice he’d ever gotten. The audience laughed at the way Gaiman answered the question before also dodging it. When asked how we should deal with Terry Pratchett’s troubles with Alzheimer’s, Gaiman said, “We don’t.” He then explained that people’s complacency with the disease is perhaps why it doesn’t get enough attention. His advice was to continue feeling bad about it because it’s a terrible thing.

All said and done, it was a good night, every bit as peculiar and amusing as you could hope for, but like I said I felt like shit. Nonetheless, it was pretty cool to see the writer of American Gods in person. What was even cooler was the fact he obviously enjoyed being here.

That’s what’s funny about Tulsa. It sounds like a shit hole (the way I imagine Oklahoma City) and to be honest downtown used to be kind of shitty when I was younger, but every out-of-towner I’ve met since then loves it. It’s a fun place, guys. Really. Just don’t do the boring tourist thing (at least not all of it) and you’ll be surprised by how much stuff there is to do here. And the eatin’s cheap, so don’t complain.

More on R.A. Lafferty here.

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