Happy Birthday, Neil Gaiman

Today is Neil Gaiman’s 58th birthday, and I hope he has a happy one.

Neil Gaiman is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read many of his books, and I’d have to say my favorite is The Ocean at the End of the Lane. It’s simple and elegant, sparse and yet full of story. I still remember in vivid detail the scene where the narrator falls back into Daisy Hempstock’s ocean.

I also really love The Graveyard Book. It came out when I was 22 years old, but I wish I’d had a book like that when I was in middle school — creepy and yet lovely. I think “creepy and yet lovely” describes most of his work, and explains why I love it so much.

Happiest of birthdays, Mr. Gaiman.

Happy Birthday, Stephen King

Today is the one, the only Stephen King’s 70th birthday!

stephen king
I maintain that horror writers have the best sense of humor.

It’s hard for me to pick a favorite story of his, though when trying to decide, I gravitate towards Pet Sematary, Hearts in Atlantis, and a short story that, for the life of me, I cannot remember the title of. I think it’s called First Date. I’m mad I can’t remember, because that story had a huge impact on me and the types of stories I both read and tell. It’s very short, and details a man as he gets ready for a date — gets dressed up, buys flowers, etc. He walks down the street and sees his date. He greets her. She stares at him, asks who he is. He gets upset that she doesn’t know, then angry as he realizes she’s not his date, then kills her. He’s a serial killer, and all those motions he goes through are his thing. It ends with him walking off innocently, like nothing brutal happened. It’s an excellent story, and if any of you can tell me the title, I’d be much obliged.

King is a big deal in my family. I still remember receiving my first book of his. I was fourteen and on summer vacation, and reading a comic book when Mom came up to me with a book. She told me if I was interested in reading Stephen King — a name I’d only heard uttered around the house and in movie trailers — that she recommend I read this one. She held out Salem’s Lot, and said she was around my age when she read it and that she loved it. I read it, and I loved it too.

I loved it so much that I got a steady stream of his books from the library. I still remember reading Stephen King on my grandmother’s porch one summer. She looked at my book, and with the blend of curiosity and judgment that she was a master at, she asked, “Stephen King?”

I nodded. I was used to these sorts of questions about my taste and interests. One needs to be when they’ve been into the weird and macabre since they were five. I also prepared myself to hear about how other relatives of mine weren’t into those things, the subtle message being that I was odd and that that needed to be noted at all times. Again, something I was used to.

She clucked her tongue, and rolled her eyes a little. “Just like your father,” she said.

I smiled.

My family and I still talk about Stephen King — I read Doctor Sleep on both Mom and Dad’s enthusiastic recommendation last summer — and I still enjoy both reading and watching his tales. Happy birthday, Stephen King. Thank you for the memories — the ones in your books, and the ones I have because I’ve read them.