Sunday, July 1, 2001

The Mount - Old And New

This is the 12th issue of Fanzing to hold "The Mount". It's been a little over a year since I began writing this little column and so much has happened since then. I moved out of my parents house, spent a year in the big city I was born in, and spent my first year in a real college. I've learned a lot and changed a lot.

How ironic then that I find myself looking back on it all in the place where it all began. For reasons I won't detail, I am living with my parents for the summer and am back at my old room, at my old desk and with my old computer. I'm writing this in the place where the very first Mount was written, back in the town with the infamous "Comic Shop From Hell" detailed in Fanzing 26.

Even here, a year makes an amazing difference. In the time I've been gone the comic shop has undergone a Renaissance of sorts. I found out that it was bought by a young couple who has started fixing things up. The quarter bin is gone, replaced with a big rack dedicated to trade paperbacks and back issues of recent mini-series.

I was actually able to get a copy of Starman #80 (which, to digress briefly, was a great ending to the series). As I noted before, that was a virtual impossibility a year ago. They are even going as so far as to tidy up the interior. Already the old moldy blue carpet has been replaced with a tasteful, grass-like green. They told me they'll be painting the walls soon enough.

And perhaps the most startling change of all? The children. Everytime I stop by now, I see children there. Perhaps it is because the new owners are young parents themselves, but the store has become a makeshift daycare center. The store's backroom is devoted to Magic, D&D and other role-playing games, with a big table for Warhammer set up in the back right corner of the main room. Word is that many parents drop their kids off here while they shop elsewhere, and nobody minds so long as the kids don't cause trouble.

And why should they? Even if having all the games and such in the backroom weren't enough to make this new shop Nirvana, there is one new change in policy that the young and old alike enjoy. Namely, the comics are no longer bagged and sealed and put on the shelf. All the new books are left free and loose to be browsed. Very useful for the poor writer of an Internet comics magazine, who is far from his own shop and is unable to pay the massive shipping fees to have his entire monthly subscription airlifted a few hundred miles... or the kid with no allowance. And yes everyone, I did check before I started reading all my regular stuff in the store. He said it was okay.

Another birthday has come and gone and I've already finished all the books I got as gifts. Among them was the best book I have read in quite a while and possibly ever. It's American Gods by Neil Gaiman of The Sandman fame.

I will not attempt to review the book here nor summarize it. Why not? Well, I'd like to think my word about something being good would be enough for you all. I haven't steered you wrong yet, have I? ;)

But a quote from the book says it best...

"One best describes a tale by telling the tale. You see? The way one describes a story, to oneself or to the world, is by telling the story. It is a balancing act and it is a dream. The more accurate the map, the more it resembles the territory. The most accurate map possible would be the territory, and thus would be perfectly accurate and perfectly useless.

The tale is the map is the territory.

You must remember this."

I do remember this. I also know better than to try and tell a tale told by a storyteller like Neil Gaiman and try and break it down into an easy Cliff Notes version. It would be a waste of my time to do so and a horrible loss to you to read that instead of American Gods itself.

If you really must know something about the book, I will say that it is about a man, his loss, old gods fighting against the new and how they all tie in together. That is all you will learn reading the dust jacket. That's all you need to know going in.

And now I must be going out. See you all next time with a new column.

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