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Reading in the Present – Sandman Overture (Hardcover Signing)

This evening was a cliche walk down memory lane, as I headed back to Brooklyn where I was born. I could have driven, but I chose to take the train (via Metro North), and the subway out of Grand Central station. It’s been a good ten or more years since I last went down to the Flatbush/Prospect Park area–I went to High School at Brooklyn Tech in nearby Fort Greene, so I was familiar with the area.

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Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza

I grew up in East New York, but I left for college at the age of sixteen (yes you read that right) and never looked back (you can click on the link for Wikipedia’s take, but here’s a quick preview: “East New York has had some of the highest crime rates in Brooklyn, and is considered by some to be the borough’s murder capital, alongside Brownsville”). I was fortunate to find a better life, and pass that along to my children.  I’m not where I would like to be–are we ever–but I am happy for the good things I do have, and the opportunities thrown my way–like being able to go to these types of events.

This is my third book signing, and it was by far the most entertaining. The show Junot Diaz and Neil Gaiman put on was uplifting and humorous. The signing was mechanized, but with close to 2,500 people in attendance at the Beth Elohim temple, I don’t see how it could have been otherwise–plus Gaiman had to catch a flight out West.

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They touched on themes of what makes for good story telling, mythology, death, family, and diversity. An amusing anecdote was revealed when Gaiman spoke of his refusal to sell the Anansi Boys novel’s movie rights to a potential buyer, because they refused to use black actors.

At the end of the interview, Gaiman’s wife regaled us with a touching tribute to Metalllica’s Sandman with a ukulele (and their cute two month old baby), followed by a Happy Birthday song and cake for Gaiman–whose birthday is on November tenth.

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Happy Birthday Neil Gaiman!!!

I had already read the Sandman Overture comics, and knew that it was a prequel.

Sandman Overture

According to Gaiman it sits somewhere before Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes and the other Sandman related books about the Endless. It fills some of the gaps that were left unexplained in the original series. I suspect this was Gaiman’s way of meeting the demand for more Sandman stories, without taking on a possibly degrading sequel–something he alluded to in his conversation with Junot, where he mentioned his distaste for disappointing sci-fi sequels to classics.

I found the Overture not as dark as the original Sandman Books. The storytelling was fantastic, overladen with Gaiman’s psychedelic and mythological storytelling, and Williams’ lush, kaleidoscopic visuals. Sandman Overture is another sublime addition to the Sandman mythos.

Here are some quotes:


“She is singing a song without words, a slow mournful song of forgetting and regret.”

“There is always war. It is a big universe and people want things.”

“The VOICES are distant, and old. The words they recite are dry, but they are from the Dawn of time, when the WORLDS paid more attention to WORDS …”


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