Thursday, September 11, 2003

Links and libraries. And... Where's Waldo?

I'm accumulating links, so let's get rid of them:

I mentioned that I was getting ready to do a story on prostitution, interviewing call girls from a midtown agency that advertised in Screw, and he said: "I called for a girl in response to one of those ads once. It said 'Unusual black girls.' So I phoned and said, 'Just what do you mean by unusual?' They said, 'Just what did you have in mind?' I said, 'Well, I'd like one that was bald with an astigmatism.' 'Well, we'll see what we can do,' they said. They found the astigmatism but no the baldness."

"Why astigmatism?" I wondered.

"I'm terribly attracted to women with ocular damage."

The two people talking are Lester Bangs and Brian Eno, in a previously unpublished chapter of a Bangs book, available at: (And I wonder whether there are any airports that play Eno's "Music For Airports". If I had an airport, I'd play it all the time.)

There's a marvellous essay about blurbs, for blurbers and blurbees over at (you'll find my own version of this essay over at April 16th 2001, in which was pre-permalinks...),3604,1039562,00.html is a hilarious take on the reaction to David Blaine's failure to hang over the Thames properly. To anyone who has recently felt downcast by popular displays of credulity and celebrity worship, this massed derision should come as a reassuring, even an inspiring, sight. Well, it certainly cheered me up. is a list of things people are afraid of. is an article about something I didn't know I was meant to be afraid of, viz. and to wit: lethal Russian pictures of Christ, which emit murderous rays... is the first part of an article about Jews and comics, and a fascinating one. (Incidentally, I recently stumbled across this -- it's a fairly stiff interview between Fred Allen and Jerry Seigel, followed by a conversation between Superman and Harry Donenfeld, "Superman's boss", done in 1940. I'll stick it up here, for anyone interested enough to download -- it's a 2 meg MP3 file, though, so be warned... 1940 - Fred Allen and Siegel and Donenfeld.mp3). sheds light on what the BBC is actually offering the world, in terms of free access to its archives. and speaking as a member of the Society of Authors, I really hope this person doesn't formally complain about Bookcrossing, or that if she does, she's ignored.

It's like the woman who mounted the campaign against second-hand bookstores some years ago, claiming they were depriving authors of income. (I googled to find out who she was, but couldn't find it, although I remember reading articles in USA Today and People and several other places at the time.) The Enemy (as it were) is not, or second-hand bookshops. The enemy is the fact that most people don't buy books. Most people don't read for pleasure. It's like the teachers who proudly stop kids reading R.L. Stine or Enid Blyton or comics or whatever, proud that they've stopped them reading the Wrong Things, without noticing that they've also stopped them reading for pleasure, reducing the chances that the kids will ever go on to read things that the teachers think of as the Right Things...

People lend each other books. That's a good thing. They recommend books to each other. That's how most people find authors they like, after all. Looking over at bookcrossing I can see at least 500 of my books floating around out there, some of them being posted all over the world, some of them being set free in interesting places. At some point, someone bought each and every one of those books. From here on out, the books are wandering around letting people discover whether or not they like what I write. It's viral. It's a good thing.

And on the subject of banned and challenged books...

We're in the countdown to Banned Books Week -- there's a nice solid essay by Suzanne Fisher Staples at -- and I got interested enough that I went and looked at the 100 most challenged books of 1990-1999, at the ALA site.

I could understand that people might challenge books about gay dads, or sex and puberty, or scary Hallowe'en books. I can just about get my mind around the fact that there are people who would try and get Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes, or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, or The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain off the shelves, because they find ideas and stories dangerous.

But the 87th most-challenged book of the 1990s was Where�s Waldo?


How old are you, and do you really still look like the photo on the back of American Gods?

I'm 42, and I never looked like the photo on the back of American Gods. That's an author photo. They're not meant to be recognisable. The most recent photo of me that I know of is the everyone holding their Hugo Awards pic at (I'm at the bottom left, letting the whole side down by wearing a leather jacket.)


Dear Mr. Gaiman,

I recently did a search for the Sandman series on my local library's computer and found to my utter dismay that they own only one volume (The Kindly Ones), classified as a YA Graphic Novel. Wanting an explanation, I talked to one of the YA coordinators for the county. The explanation I was given is that the "word" on Sandman is that the series is too graphic and/or mature for YA readers and a lot of libraries (my county included), won't purchase it. I pointed out the volume they owned was classified as YA, but she encouraged me to reccomend Sandman to the Adult services coordinator for consideration, as Children's/YA was not going to purchase any more volumes.

I was curious what your feelings are about Sandman's reputation as adult material unsuitable for teens? Perhaps a word from the man himself might encourage my library (and others) to reconsider their stance on Sandman.

I suspect that having a reputation as adult material that's unsuitable for teens will probably do more to get teens to read Sandman than having the books ready and waiting on the YA shelves would ever do.

I'm perfectly happy for Sandman to be on adult shelves. And if they aren't on any shelves, due to fearful or underbudgeted librarians, there's always an Interlibrary Loan...

And talking about librarians, I'll give the last word to John M. Ford:

..I note in passing that all the taradiddle about "the first librarian
action figure" seems to miss the fact that there was a Rupert Giles figure
some time back, and he was enough of a librarian to appear as a role model
on the cover of a professional journal -- I think it was Ameriican
Libraries. The figure was prominently displayed during Anthony Stewart
Head's turn on Graham Norton, and that is quite enough to say.