Wednesday, May 16, 2001

American Gods Blog, Post 54

And an e-mail waiting for me on my return, from Rambling Jack Womack, the Harper Collins publicist... posting it as is for all the Los Angelenos out there...

Just talked to Jen Ramos at Book Soup in LA, and due to OVERWHELMING
RESPONSE they're changing the event venue on the 29th to their larger space,
and moving the time to an hour earlier (this works out fine within the rest
of your schedule). Books will of course be sold on-site.

So, the new specifics:

7:00 PM

Speaking/Q & A/signing to take place at:
Beverly Hills Library
444 N. Rexford St.
Beverly Hills, CA
phone: 310-659-3684
(Store phone, as before)

posted by Neil Gaiman 11:45 PM

From American Gods, Chapter Five:

Calliope music played: a Strauss waltz, stirring and occasionally discordant. The wall as they entered was hung with antique carousel horses, hundreds of them, some in need of a lick of paint, others in need of a good dusting; above them hung dozens of winged angels constructed rather obviously from female store-window mannequins; some of them bared their sexless breasts; some had lost their wigs and stared baldly and blindly down from the darkness.

And then there was the carousel.

A sign proclaimed it was the largest in the world, said how much it weighed, how many thousand lightbulbs were to be found in the chandeliers that hung from it in gothic profusion, and forbade anyone from climbing on it or from riding on the animals.

And such animals! Shadow stared, impressed in spite of himself, at the hundreds of full-sized creatures who circled on the platform of the carousel. Real creatures, imaginary creatures, and transformations of the two: each creature was different – he saw mermaid and merman, centaur and unicorn, elephants (one huge, one tiny), bulldog, frog and phoenix, zebra, tiger, manticore and basilisk, swans pulling a carriage, a white ox, a fox, twin walruses, even a sea serpent, all of them brightly coloured and more than real: each rode the platform as the waltz came to an end and a new waltz began. The carousel did not even slow down.

“What’s it for?” asked Shadow. “I mean, okay, world’s biggest, hundreds of animals, thousands of lightbulbs, and it goes around all the time, and no-one ever rides it.”

“It’s not there to be ridden, not by people,” said Wednesday. “It’s there to be admired. It’s there to be.”

* * *

There is nowhere in the whole world quite as strange or as special as The House on the Rock. Parts of Chapters 5 and 6 of the novel take place there -- stuff happens, and some characters get to ride the World's Largest Carousel.

Nobody's allowed to ride the World's Largest Carousel in real life. It just goes round and round and round, like something from the Weisinger-era Fortress of Solitude.

I drove for 3 hours to get there. Jeff, the photographer, had a whole crew of people waiting. First, make-up. Then, the initial set up: a double-exposure picture of me and the strange nipple-revealing shop-window dummy mannequin angels that hang from the roof of the Carousel room. (One of the photos from today will illustrate the review in the Entertainment Weekly books section.)

Then down to floor level and over to the Carousel for shots of me with the strange animals moving round and round in the background. I spent most of the time trying not to look vaguely goofy. (This is my default mode in photographs. It's not intentional. Some people tell me I take good photographs, and I have to explain that that's only because they mostly don't print the goofy ones. The infamous CBLDF iguana photo is a good example of the kind of photo that people usually don't see. Goofy.)

The best part of spending 4 hours having your photo taken is often talking to the photographer. This was kind of out of the question here -- the sheer volume of the music in the Carousel Room is initially almost unbearable; after about 20 minutes it becomes a sort of background noise and you kind of tune it out... but for the four hours of the shoot, Jeff and I communicated mostly by hand gestures of the "turn left," and "chin up" variety, because the music was so loud you couldn't hear anything, especially when all the kettle-drums started banging.

(And for the breaks Jeff was off setting up the next shot. I chatted to Dolores, his assistant, and signed her hardback of Sandman: THE WAKE. She hasn't read it yet, as she says if she does then the story will be over.)

The carousel room is the hottest room in the House on the Rock. It's the 20,000 lightbulbs from the carousel that keep it so warm, said Bill, the man on carousel duty (he's been doing it for 16 years, making sure no-one vaults the fence and climbs onto any of the animals). I was cooking in the Jonathan Carroll leather jacket.

As the shoot wound down, Jeff and I got to chat a little. "How would you like me to make you look?" he asked. "Brooding, mysterious, scary, friendly -- what kind of impression are you trying to give?"

I thought for a moment, and realised that I had no idea. "Could you make me look surprisingly fuckable for a writer, please?"

He laughed (and so did the rest of the crew) and said he'd do his best.

And we wrapped up the shoot, then I ate and drove another three hours back.

Actually, I'd settle for brooding.

Really, I'd settle for not very goofy.

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