I write very nervously about the following subject, not wanting to incur the wrath of the television gods. My second favorite book of all time is being turned into a TV series by STARZ. My first favorite book of all time is being turned into a movie and a dash of Zombie thrown in. Makes Kim Falconer's post from last month, "Why Zombie," rather hit close to home.
My second favorite book of all time is American Gods by Neil Gaiman. My entire notion of storytelling was tilted on its axis when I read this book for the first time. I'd grown up on fantasy, but never one like this, never one that was tangible and everyday. Piers Anthony and Robert Jordan didn't make me take a second look at the mundane around me searching for the divine.
There is no basic way to describe the book. Its a travel guide to the hidden wonders of America, its a story of redemption and resurrection, its a textbook on ancient mythologies and a commentary on the American culture by a person who moved here as soon as he could. It is everything: blood, violence, humor, love, and coin tricks.
This book is my bible. This book made me want to write. This book enraged the voices inside my head until they rioted and spilled out on the page. This book was the making of me. Of what I would do and not do, what I would sacrifice to and what I was not willing to let go of. I have read this book at least ten times, and each time, I glean something different from it. The first time I read it, I was so in tune with Shadow's wanderings. This time as a mother, I read it with the keen sense of sacrifice and which 'god' I am giving my time to.
It was also my introduction to Neil Gaiman in general. His Sandman series was next, and then I got lost in Neverwhere and Good Omens and the radio plays of both. His short stories, his children's books, all of them are the interworkings of my brain on the page with better grammar.
Even if he is not your cup of tea, he is an advocate to strong females who can rescue themselves, searching for your true story, and the power of the imagination. He is a muse for our muses.
So for my Year of the Like, I would like to give a double thumbs up to Neil Gaiman. He reminds us that "you will learn more from a glorious failure than you will from something you've never finished."
And he keeps me true to my story, wary of sacrificing to the wrong goals, and keeps me searching in the smallest of places for a glimpse at something divine.