All good fantasies start with a map.

Last night I took myself to the Harold Washington Library, in the hopes of getting myself into a seat to hear Audrey Niffenegger (of The Time Traveler’s Wife fame) and Neil Gaiman, who wrote this spring’s One Book, One Chicago choice, Neverwhere.


In case you’re not familiar, One Book, One Chicago is an event that takes place twice a year. The Chicago Public Library picks a book, and encourages the city to read it by pushing out lots of resources and events around it, including author events.

I hopped on the bus to get to the library, concerned that I hadn’t left early enough. These events can be tricky. Sometimes, I get myself there a half hour early and find myself the only under-50 in a crowd of 20 (when I went to see Edmund Morris speak on Colonel Roosevelt), and sometimes, I’m stuck in an overflow room with a giant screen (perhaps I should have known a Michael Pollan event would be more crowded).

Last night, unfortunately, was the latter.

Fortunately, though, I did get into the overflow room (some of the latecomers were straight up turned away), and was treated to a great talk between the two authors.

Neverwhere is a book about London Above (what you and I know of London) and London Below (which is a network of people who live in sewers, closed tube stations, and other places underneath the city).

London Below is bizarre. There are Rat Worshippers, and Black Friars, and an Angel. A normal man named Richard gets sucked into London Below after saving the life of a girl named Door (yes, Door), and the reader is brought along on his journey to get back where he belongs.

The line for the event was full of a mix of people, some of whom looked like they maybe belonged in London Below.

I noted a man in combat boots and a skirt (not a kilt, in case you were wondering), a boy with a mohawk that was about two feet high, and a girl who had a fleece jacket covered in woodland creatures and skin the color of someone who had been hanging underground for awhile.

It made waiting in line far more tolerable.

It also made me feel pretty boring.

In any case, Gaiman (who also wrote Coraline, which I did not know at all), and Niffenegger (who has bright red hair and a strange, lilting accent, despite being from Chicago), were funny, smart, and made me want to be their literary besties.

I recognize I’m nowhere near literary enough to actually be besties with these two, but a girl can dream, right?

If you haven’t read anything by Gaiman, I’d say to get to it–JW’s got his paws on American Gods, and I’ll be snapping it up as soon as he’s finished.

If you haven’t read The Time Traveler’s Wife, you’re behind. Remedy that, please.

And then read Her Fearful Symmetry and talk about it with me.

It led me believe that Niffenegger is something of a weirdo.

Which is totally all right by me.

Have a good day, chickadees!

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1 Comment

Filed under Chicago, Good Reads, Reflections

One response to “All good fantasies start with a map.

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