One Book, One Chicago
Angela Hanshaw | March 29, 2011
I had to highlight my local library system for choosing a novel by Neil Gaiman for its 2011 One Book, One Chicago citywide reading program. (It also helps that they’re offering a wide variety of interesting programming to go with the usual book discussions.) Neverwhere tells the story of Richard Mayhew, a London office worker content to go unnoticed, whose decision to help a young girl forces him on a quest in her world, London Below, to find a way back home. London Below is full of horrifying and hilarious characters, and on his journey Richard must learn more about this bizarre world and about himself in the process.
Chicago Public Library (CPL) has teamed up with a number of partners—including Chicago Elevated tours, the Chicago Humanities Festival, Lifeline Theatre, and DePaul University—to bring something of interest to everyone. In addition, speakers will include Neil Gaiman, Audrey Niffenegger, and Lawrence Krauss. Here’s CPL’s rundown of upcoming events:
Chicago Below: The Pedway Tour
Take part in an adventure even Richard Mayhew would love. Led by Margaret Hicks of Chicago Elevated, this tour takes you down into Chicago’s Pedway, a series of passageways that connect the city above to the city below. Scurry under buildings and around train tracks, all the while learning about urban legends of underground Chicago as well as the certain hiding places of Croup and Vandemar.
An Evening of Modern Fairy Tales
One Book, One Chicago teams up with the Chicago Humanities Festival to present a rare opportunity for grownups to celebrate this monstrous and magical literary form. Join Lydia Millet (How the Dead Dream) and Kate Bernheimer (Horse, Flower, Bird and editor of My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me: Forty New Fairy Tales) for readings and conversation about these dark and delightful stories.
Neverwhere on Stage: Lifeline Theatre
Chicago’s Lifeline Theatre dedicates itself to literary adaptation and was lauded by critics, fans, and Neil Gaiman himself last spring when they brought Neverwhere to their stage. Join the original cast for a full reading of the play, which was adapted for the stage by Robert Kauzlaric. The reading will be followed by a brief talk-back with Kauzlaric and his fellow actors, director Paul S. Holmquist, and Lifeline artistic director Dorothy Milne.
Neil Gaiman and Audrey Niffenegger
Gaiman is joined by visual artist and writer Audrey Niffenegger (Her Fearful Symmetry, The Time Traveler’s Wife) for a conversation about imagination and creativity.
Neil Gaiman Reading and Lecture
Join us to hear from @neilhimself (as his over 1.5 million Twitter followers know him) about writing, life, art, and what became of Richard Mayhew.
Turning the Page: The Rise of the Graphic Novel
DePaul faculty scholar and writer Rebecca Johns Trissler hosts a lively discussion with Chicago authors and fans of fantasy to explore the history of this fascinating literary form. Drawing from their own experiences as storytellers and teachers, the panelists will consider the future of the graphic novel and the conventions of this widely popular genre.
Lawrence Krauss: Parallel Universes
Join the inaugural director of the Origins Project at Arizona State University and author of Quantum Man: Richard Feynman’s Life in Science and The Physics of Star Trek for an exploration of where fiction meets physics. An acclaimed lecturer, respected cosmologist, and theoretical physicist, Krauss uses Neverwhere as a starting point for an entertaining lecture on how scientists are exploring the possibility of parallel universes.
Neverwhere Literature Contest at DePaul University
Calling all writers! Submit your speculative and fairytale-based fiction and poetry in consideration for the Neverwhere Literature Contest, judged by One Book, One Chicago panelist Kate Bernheimer, author of, most recently, The Complete Tales of Lucy Gold and editor of Fairy Tale Review. Visit DePaul University’ One Book, One Chicago page for contest rules and prize information. Award winners will read their work, and a reception will follow. For food, live music and one last look at “a world far stranger and more dangerous than you have ever known.”
Screening and Discussion: Mirrormask
This award-winning 2005 film was written by Neil Gaiman and is told through the spectacular visuals of director Dave McKean. The story of an epic quest where strange, magical creatures dwell in a fantasy world and a fifteen-year-old girl must find the legendary MirrorMask to save the kingdom, this film is sure to captivate audiences. Refreshments will be served, and a discussion will follow the screening.
DePaul University Course: Literature and Social Engagement: One Book, One Chicago
DePaul University’s Department of English offers ENG 378 Literature and Social Engagement: One Book, One Chicago, a course dedicated to the close study of the current One Book selection. This spring, the course will be taught by Assistant Professor of English Rebecca Johns Trissler. Her first novel, Icebergs, was a finalist for the 2007 Hemingway Foundation/PEN Award for first fiction and a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Award. Neil Gaiman’s Neverwhere will be prominent on the required reading list. This is a ten-week, tuition-based course.
Programs for teens include:
Digital Media Workshops in YOUmedia
Join a team of mentors and other teens to add even more dimensions to the worlds of Neverwhere. Read, discuss, create, and be inspired in these after-school digital media workshops inspired by Neil Gaiman’s novel:
Fan-fiction: This is your chance to remix and/or continue the story of Neverwhere. Write and create a mixed media digital flipbook to chronicle significant characters and themes represented in Neverwhere
Graphic novel: Using the application Comic Life, this is your chance to create an adaptation of Neverwhere. By creating a graphic novel you will be able re-envision the book’s characters, events, and themes.
The “Chicago Below” mix tape (spoken word and hip hop): Create and perform thematic spoken word poetry and/or hip hop inspired by characters and themes presented in Neverwhere.
Sounds about write (book soundtrack): Compose an original score that reflects themes, characters, or events represented in Neverwhere.
Video and photo documentary: Use video and photography to reflect on the two worlds of Chicago Above (the city) and Chicago Below (the subway). Compare and contrast how this reflects the themes in Neverwhere.
Write Your Own Drama in YOUmedia
Wonder what happens after Neverwhere ends? Share your vision with other writers as we develop and write scripts based on Neverwhere for performance by the Chicago Public Library’s Reader’s Theatre Troupe. See your work go from idea to page to stage.
Resources available on the One Book, One Chicago website include a letter from Neil Gaiman, an author bio and a list of works, a calendar of discussion groups, discussion questions, and a resource guide.
Angela Hanshaw is Program Officer/Web Editor for the ALA Public Programs Office.