So I reread Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, or rather, read the Tenth Anniversary Edition, which is the “Authors Preferred Text” with something like 12,000 more words and other things. I read the original book in 2001, sometime, I think, and it immediately became one of my favorite books of all time, and when I bought the 10th Anniversary Edition last year, I planned to re-read it immediately then, but, like 98% of the books I buy it went onto a stack of books I planned to read immediately when I bought them, a stack that grows and moves and never shrinks, no matter how many books I read, for I’m always buying books and always reading books but never reading enough and always buying too many.
In any event, there’s a profound joy rereading something you love. You always take away something new (that was always there) while remembering why you loved it to begin with. It’s like a second first kiss, the first kiss after the first kiss, the one where you aren’t thinking about the neuroses involved with kissing someone and you’re nervous if you’re going to like it or they’re going to like it or if there are implications involved or if you should even kiss them again.
I reread Chuck Klosterman’s Killing Yourself To Live every once in awhile, sometimes just the same chapters over and over, but usually the whole thing, and there’s a lot of similarities between Killing Yourself to Live and American Gods, now that I think about it.
Both are essentially road trips across America, and both deal with the fascination that comes with immortality post death, and the figures we worship in America, and the relationships we seek and the relationships we make and relationships we end and the relationships we never find.
For American Gods, it’s the Gods and gods that societies brought with them to America over the last thousand years, gods that have been forgotten and gods that have been created and gods that have floundered and gods that have prospered. Gods seeking to remain gods through any means necessary; gods who kill themselves to live.
And in Killing Yourself to Live, Chuck examines the rock and roll stars who gained immortality only after they died, in plane crashes and overdoses, through drownings and motorcycle accidents, via murder and suicide; Americans who lived like gods and whom died and whom we continue to worship.
Also, both deal with a central protagonist who is tortured by the women in his life, is saved by the women in his life, is betrayed and is forgotten and is troubled by the women he surrounds himself with. Shadow in American Gods has his wife, has Bast, has Sam Black Crow, has the goddesses who give him the moon and who steal his heart, who bring him back to life and whom kill him. Chuck has the girl he loves and the other girl he loves and the girl he used to love, he has his editor and he has his muse, and he has the pop goddesses whom he listens to as he drives.
One of those books is a true story and the other one is just true.
But, anyways, rereading American Gods, rereading anything you love, is one of the greatest joys there is. You already know you’re going to like it, but then you’re always astonished how much you love it.
Escapism is a wonderful thing, books are the gateways to the impossible, and great ones are both rare and all too common.
It’s always good to live in someone elses head, to dream someone elses dreams, if only for a few hundred pages every now and then.