Subscribe to The Horn Book

>Neil speaks

> . . . and apparently gets into a lot of hot water for doing so. Even before people in Chicago knew that Neil Gaiman was giving the 2012 Sutherland Lecture, they were talking about kooky Matt Dean, the Minnesota legislator who announced that he “hated” Gaiman (whether the books or the man he did not make clear), called the author a “pencil-necked weasel,” and accused him of “stealing” $45,000, the fee Gaiman received for a speech, from the state.

What is up with Republicans? When they’re not trying to monkey with the laws of supply and demand, as above, they keep busy legislating health care. Ayn Rand is crying in hell, and the fact that Gaiman donated his fee to charity only makes her feel worse. (I’m kind of with her there.  I’m sorry Gaiman felt compelled to tell us how he spent the money–who cares?) If somebody wants to pay me $45,000 for a speech, I’ll gladly take it and do my utmost to push those dollars swiftly back into our flatlined economy. Dentists, opticians, roofers rejoice!

Roger Sutton About Roger Sutton

Roger Sutton has been the editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc, since 1996. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.



  1. Anonymous says:

    >Does this need a tag "They are so going to hell?"

  2. >It's no wonder thinking people think Republicans are a joke. The good news is the more stupid things their leaders say, the less credibility they have within their ranks—even their own mothers.

  3. Melinda says:


    Oops, didn't mean to yell ….

  4. Anonymous says:

    >Matt Dean looks ridiculous, but I think the name-calling highlights a problem. There's this idea that people who work for libraries or with children shouldn't make money. They're supposed to do it for love. Me, I really do love the work I do, but I think I deserve to get paid for it.

  5. Helen Frost says:

    >If Ayn Rand is crying in hell, this should cheer her up:

  6. >Okay, I love Neil Gaiman and I don't love Republicans. But $33,600 (Gaiman's actual fee) is a lot of money for one talk. I am guessing that Minnesota is full of people like me who are trying to support a family on significantly less than that a YEAR. Is it conceivable that they might justifiably prefer not to see their tax dollars spent that way?

    If I found out that my library system had spent $45,000 on one talk (which I'm assuming is Gaiman's fee + other expenses of the event), I would not be terribly pleased. $45,000 would provide a library with a full-time librarian for a year. Or allow the library to be open longer hours. Or buy a whole lot of books. In a time when library budgets are being slashed, that doesn't seem like the best use of money.

    Does Gaiman have the right to charge as much as he likes? Sure. Does Dean have a right to call him a thief? No way. Do taxpayers have a right to protest this use of their money? Definitely!

  7. Anonymous says:


    Minnesota voted to set aside a tiny percentage of their taxes for the Legacy funds to bring cultural events to people who wouldn't otherwise experience them.

    The Legacy funds had to be used before the end of the budget period or they would be lost.

    The money couldn't be used for any of those worthwhile things you mentioned.

    Does Use-it-or-lose-it budget pressure sometimes cause expenses that are hard to defend? Yes. Would a roll-over option be better? Maybe. Maybe not. Cash flow can be a nightmare when people think there's a pot of cash on hand they get to use any time they want it.

    Did Minnesota get their money's worth? I don't know. The talk is online available for all Minnesotans, not just the people in the library.

    Lots of publicly supported universities pay much more to bring speakers like Sarah Palin to their campus. LeBron James would get more money, too. Would Matt Dean have objected if Sarah Palin had been brought to the library? I really don't think so.

    Anon 9:26proz

  8. Anonymous says:

    >Hmmm… I wonder what charity he gave his money to.

  9. Anonymous says:

    >Anon 2:31

    One for victims of abuse, one for the local libraries, I think.

  10. Elizabeth Fama says:

    >Defending the act of spending the remainder of the budget on Neil Gaiman at the last minute by saying the money won't "roll over" to the next year has some fuzzy economics in it. The money does not just disappear into the ether, it goes back to the state.

    The trouble is, future funding is typically cut back if you don't spend your entire budget, so the incentive was to blow the wad.

    The original Republican idea behind this controversy (lost in the kerfuffle between Matt Dean and Neil Gaiman) was to require arts and culture groups to have to compete for grants, rather than have money automatically appropriated to their coffers. This would force organizations like the library to think of the programs they most desire ahead of time, rather than scramble at the last minute to spend "their" money. Honestly, it's not a bad proposal, name-calling notwithstanding.

Comment Policy:
  1. Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  2. Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  3. Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.

We are not able to monitor every comment that comes through (though some comments with links to multiple URLs are held for spam-check moderation by the system). If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.

We accept clean XHTML in comments, but don't overdo it and please limit the number of links submitted in your comment. For more info, see the full Terms of Use.

Speak Your Mind