Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The morning found me miles away...

Still in Brazil. Still with Miss Maddy. Still having a lovely time.

Bought lots of books in the Paraty Festival bookshop today -- and saw many beautiful Brazilian editions of my stuff I hadn't seen before.

My favourite article read on the plane, incidentally, was the wonderful The Magic Olympics -- with tricks explained! by Alex Stone, in Harpers, which you can read online at: (my second favourite was the Gopnik article on Chesterton in the New Yorker, but it's not online, and I think he missed the boat about Chesterton politically). [My mistake. The Harpers article is only readable for subscribers.]

Hi Neil,You wrote a lovely story, told by Abel (I believe) about crows sitting in judgment on their storytellers. Somewhere along the way, this story became fact in my head. I was wondering if there is any truth to the myth, or if it's just myth. Maybe you could pass the question on to the Birdchick?Thanks!MRM

The description of corvids sitting around one of their number, cawing back and forth, and then sometimes killing it and sometimes flying off is something I've run into in old bird literature (and more recently as well -- since Sandman 40 came out I've read an eyewitness account of it in the Smithsonian Magazine). As to why it happens, I don't think you'll find any bird people who claim to know.

I should mention that the collective noun for rooks is not a parliament (which is actually the collective noun for owls) or it wasn't until I wrote Sandman 40, anyway. Mostly it's a building or a clamour of rooks. Sometimes it's a storytelling of rooks, which sounds like something I might have made up anyway...

Does Neil have an official myspace page? If so what is the adress?

No, I don't. There's an unofficial one, or more than one out there. I keep meaning to set up official myspaces and facebooks, but really tend to feel that keeping this place under control is more than enough for one author, and it never happens.

Hi Neil--Not really a question for you, just comment. You mentioned Tom Stoppard in your blog today. They say you should never meet your heroes, but they never say how cool it is when some of your heroes meet each other and get along so well. You seem to get along well with just about everyone. What just makes me smile is that so many of them are heroes of mine (Dave McKean, Roger Zelazny, Tom Stoppard, Philip Pullman,... ).Good luck growing up to be Mr. Stoppard. You seem well on your way.Have fun!

Actually, you should never meet your heroes if you want to keep them as heroes. They may wind up as friends or as disappointments or as pleasant surprises, but once you know them they immediately stop being heroes. (I've turned down several opportunities to meet Stephen Sondheim socially, because he's practically all I've got left. Even David Bowie, who I've never even met, has managed to transmute in my head most of the way from DAVID BOWIE ZOMG!!1!* to my friend Duncan's dad.)

But then, I'm not sure about heroes at the best of times. I wrote about it at
and still feel pretty much the same way now.

The most remarkable thing about Tom Stoppard (leaving aside the whole him-being-a-genius thing) is he's twenty years older than me, and he has my hair!

This gives me hope.


*correct !!1! punctuation assistance here by Maddy.

Labels: , , , , ,