The ALA announced its award winners for 2009. Neil Gaiman (may the winds of inspiration ever fill his lungs!), my favorite fiction author still drawing breath, has won the Newberry medal for 2009, for The Graveyard Book.
My heart leaped for joy at the news. I enjoy his writing a great deal, and thought that The Graveyard Book had a particularly smoky flavor. And I know I'm in good company. It's like being a fan of some sport that has an annual contest, a giant affair in which many thousands of people gather to watch the best in the sport compete. And deep inside, the fan knows that the outcome doesn't really matter, because s/he gets to watch the greatest. But when the fan's chosen team wins unexpectedly, the fan feels part of something greater than him/herself, even though s/he had absolutely nothing to do with any of it. (If I could have thought of any sport that had some kind of annual contest, a "Super Fest" or a "World Prize" or something, this metaphor would have worked out a lot more smoothly. A little help, sports fans?)
I haven't read EVERYTHING Gaiman's ever written, but it's a close call. Some of the older comic books, the occasional children's book, probably an introduction here or there. I read his blog a lot. It gives me an artificially close sensation to him--a man I've never met, a man I'd recognize and leave alone if I saw him in a coffee shop so as not to disturb his coffee-shop experience, seems like a friend of mine. And from everything I can glean from his public face (which occasionally includes blog posts under duress, probably a test of character of some kind), he seems like a nice guy. So, it couldn't have happened to an apparently nicer fellow.
Congratulations, Mr. Gaiman.