Amanda Palmer and I have a complicated relationship. To be more accurate, Amanda Palmer's online persona/creative work and I have a complicated relationship. I can't remember precisely when I first encountered her online, but it was probably in conjunction with the announcement that she and Neil Gaiman (in my opinion, the reigning King of SFF) had gotten engaged. At that point I checked out her work and came away convinced of three things:
- Sadly, Neil Gaiman and I were never going to work out as a couple.
- Amanda Fucking Palmer was one of the bravest people I'd seen.
- While Amanda Fucking Palmer was one of the bravest people I'd seen, I was not sure that her persona/music/stuff was quite my cup of tea.
Ah, well. To each his/her/their own! And I quietly went on with my decidedly non-rock-star life.
I do, however, remember the first time I met her in person. I had just moved across the country for graduate school and had gotten hired at a local independent bookstore. It was my first day on the job. My supervisor was just taking me through the children's section (a section with which I have now become intimately familiar), when who should pass us by but Amanda Palmer her-fucking-self? (I mean, who could mistake those eyebrows, right?) I stammered something about being a big fan, and she graciously signed a piece of paper for me. (This paper now lives on my refrigerator. It has been there for over two years.)
Since then, we've crossed paths a number of times. We've had casual conversations. Once, I recommended a book to her. While she's slightly less fierce in person, what I can say for sure is that both online and off, I've always found her intelligent, considerate, and truly thoughtful.
...Which brings us to last week and the launch of Amanda Palmer's book, The Art of Asking. I had already been up past 2:00am for two nights in a row (both my own fault: the first night I was reading, the second I was winning a soccer championship). Our store held Amanda's midnight launch party, and I didn't get home until 3:45am.
I confess that some of the night has been lost to undersleptness. There was cake (it was Neil's birthday). There was singing, and laughing, and signing. I was impressed by the patience and good humor of the crowd. Both Neil and Amanda signed my bag and stood for pictures at 3:30am (the wonderful darlings they are). And then I took Amanda's book home and started reading it.
This is how one late night with Amanda Palmer turned into a week. Because once I started reading, I didn't want to stop. At the same time, I was trying to force myself to go slower, both because I didn't want it to be over and because I suspected (rightly so) that this is a book best consumed slowly and deliberately, in a measured fashion. I finally finished The Art of Asking sometime after midnight early Friday morning and immediately wanted a do-over.
I don't think it's possible for me to say anything about The Art of Asking that hasn't already been said. The book is so very Amanda, right down to the core. It's smart and considering and vulnerable and dark and brave and uplifting. I don't agree with everything she says, but hey - when have I ever agreed with everything someone says? What I can say (and absolutely stand behind, 100%), is that The Art of Asking is an incredible, thoughtful, and worthwhile read for anyone in the creative arts (myself included). I related to so much that she said about the strange and mindboggling state of being a creative in a world that is not always considerate of creatives. Beyond that, it's a worthwhile read for anyone thinking about the relationship between creators and fans, people and creators, people and fans, and people and people. So...kind of a lot of folk, I think.
I have no good ending for this post. I thought I would know how to wrap it up by the time I got here, but instead, this is the best I've got:
- The Art of Asking is going to hang out on my bookshelf for a long while to come.
- Both Amanda and Neil are wonderfully considerate of their booksellers, and that is a wonderful way to be. Authors, take note.
- 3:30am cake is pretty darn good cake.
- Generosity. Generosity of self, generosity of spirit.
And that was my week with Amanda Fucking Palmer. Terribly underslept, but oh so very worth it.
Reading: An Exaggerated Murder (Josh Cook)
Listening to: "The Bed Song" (Amanda Fucking Palmer)