Friday, October 3, 2008

Neil Gaiman Visits My Childhood Haunts

As many of you know, I am a big fan of Neil Gaiman’s, having stalked him at BEA and all. His new novel, The Graveyard Book, just came out (read my review here), and he’s doing a book tour wherein he reads the next chapter of the book at each stop on the tour. They’re recording him and posting the videos here, so by the end of the tour you’ll be able to watch him read the entire book.

If that wasn’t cool enough, I just found out from his blog that he read last night at the Tivoli theater in Downers Grove! That’s just blocks from where I grew up. The Tivoli is a gigantic old movie theater built in 1928 for “talkies” and vaudeville acts. I saw a lot of movies there as a kid mostly because it was walking distance from home and tickets were only $1.50. I even remember going on a couple class field trips to movies there as it was only 2 blocks from my old grade school. It was a bit run down then. I remember a strange wallpaper with fish on it, but it always had a cool organ.

I saw Raiders there with my sister and hid my face in my hands during the face melting. Empire Strikes Back with my mom who turned to me and said “that’s Grover” the first time Yoda spoke. My sister had one of her first dates there to see Airplane. I remember seeing the Black Stallion and my other sister watching it from the lobby because it was too loud. That same sister’s best friend’s brother worked there (and maybe still does, I think he bought into it at one point). Over the years it became part of a local chain of old theaters called Classic Cinemas, and they’ve gradually fixed it up and restored it.

Now it really is a palace of a movie theater, and it hosts live theatre again now too. And, apparently, celebrity book readings. Anderson’s Books is just across the tracks from it and they hosted the event last night. In Neil’s own words: “What a wonderful place the Tivoli is.”

What a wonderful place indeed.

Watch him read Chapter 3 of The Graveyard Book in a place of my childhood memories here (although you can’t see any of the theater as it’s just a close shot of him reading.)

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In 1789, the governor of Australia granted land and some animals to James Ruse in an experiment to see how long it would take him to support himself. Within 15 months he had become self sufficient. The area is still known as Experiment Farm. This is my Experiment Farm to see how long it will take me to support myself by writing.