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Goodbye to You | 2014 | An Evening with Art Spiegelman and Neil Gaiman


Once in a century a man may be ruined or made insufferable by praise. But surely once in a minute something generous dies for want of it.  

-John Masefield


Art Sausage

Strangers walk into Holly's show at The Art Riot. Bashful, she averts her gaze as they talk to her, as I might if someone I didn't know were trying to talk to me about my books (or, possibly, even if I did know them). I immediately seize the strangers and prattle on about which my favorite pieces are and, if they like Firefly, would they want to check out this these portraits of Kaylee Frye over here? I do not convince them to buy anything, though I come close.

When I return to Holly and Dan, he makes a quip that I should be hired as her press agent. It simply comes naturally, since I am such a fan of her work (irrespective of how warmly I feel toward her personally). I played a similar role during Amber's opening, since I felt I had a better perspective on her skill as a philistine than my shy Amber ever could.

I can negotiate for and praise other people when I believe in them, but I can't bring myself to do it for myself. It is appreciation when I wield this adulation for the good of those I care about, but it would be unforgivable ego to dare to mention I thought I might not be wretched (or even that I write professionally at all). It's not that I do not perceive the likely quality of my writing, if I am allowed a dozen steps distance from it. I feel I occasionally get it right and, if I am diligent and lucky, each work is a bit better because it is built upon the lessons I learned in wrestling the previous story into publishable submission. (Though I am more still far more likely to believe in the honesty of negative reviews than in the positive ones.)

However, as with Daniel's intricate tiles or Holly's portraits, I only truly see the final products, not the toil and practice that preceded. To lean a bit heavily on a tired analogy, I love the sausage of their art better for not having to muck about in its creation. I know every snout and entrail I have sewn together in my books, how I have concocted a blend of spices to disguise the meat's earth origin, so I am not quite hungry enough to sell it to you directly. I've heard it said that chefs are often the last person you want describing a dish because they have spent hours in the kitchen, overcome by the steam and the ingredients' pungency; they cannot taste their creations with the innocence of someone off the street can, the true audience anyway. Likewise, no can artists will give you an honest estimation of their skill, since they are distracted brushing paint out of their hair or nursing carpal tunnel. Instead, ask the person beside them, squinting to ferret out a detail all but invisible to the casual viewer and assumed ignored by the artist.

Just be kind enough to ignore any filter organs that may slip through.

Soon in Xenology: Wedding planning. The perils of poverty.

last watched: Made in America: Crips and Bloods
reading: The Night Gwen Stacy Died
listening: Lorde

Goodbye to You | 2014 | An Evening with Art Spiegelman and Neil Gaiman

Thomm Quackenbush is an author and teacher in the Hudson Valley. Double Dragon publishes four novels in his Night's Dream series (We Shadows, Danse Macabre, and Artificial Gods, and Flies to Wanton Boys). He has sold jewelry in Victorian England, confused children as a mad scientist, filed away more books than anyone has ever read, and tried to inspire the learning disabled and gifted. He is capable of crossing one eye, raising one eyebrow, and once accidentally groped a ghost. When not writing, he can be found biking, hiking the Adirondacks, grazing on snacks at art openings, and keeping a straight face when listening to people tell him they are in touch with 164 species of interstellar beings. He likes when you comment.

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