After conventions, I find, is the worst time to get anything done, for me. Compounding matters is that there is always an excess of things to do, more so than usual.
Take today, for example. In addition to the normal routine chores of homelife and my normal workload of comic pages to sketch and writing to be done, there is the added burden of follow-up emails to be sent, connections to solidify, and unfinished business left over from last week.
I could have done all those things today. Or at least taken a substantial bite out of them.
Instead I read American Gods.
This is a bad habit of mine. I tend to devour books whole, like a snake, then sit around digesting them for ages while the reading list piles up again until… snarf! Down goes another one.
American Gods, (by Neil Gaiman, but I shouldn’t have to tell you that) should last me a while. It is a good, big, juicy book, filled with excellent drippings and lots of flavor.
That’s a good way to describe the book, I think. Plenty of flavors. Even if one of them is formaldehyde.
I did not come to the book easily. It came at me, from odd angles. Once in the form of a library book my mother got; another as an eBook promotion. Once it leapt at me off the shelves of the local thrift store while I waited for the changing room to empty.
What finally convinced me was when I opened my bookbag at WFC this last weekend and found the special 10th Anniversary Edition sitting at the bottom of it.
The reason for my hesitation has everything to do with the fact that I knew it was about the Norse gods in modern times. Gods in general anyway. And the best books about gods in our time have already been written: Eight Days of Luke and The Game, both by Diana Wynne Jones. I was (still am) enamored of these books, particularly Eight Days of Luke. When I heard Jones was dying and I knew I could send her maybe one last piece of fanart, I picked a scene from Luke to illustrate and send to her.
So I was reluctant to have my perfect images of Mr. Wedding and Luke ruined by Mr. Gaiman. Which I knew he would. I had read Fragile Things and I knew what he was capable of.
Now I have read it, and if any of you out there harbor similar reservations, let me set your mind at rest: American Gods does not ruin Eight Days of Luke. Because it is quite clear that the gods as you see them in Gaiman’s novel are fictions, mere stories, interpretations. Eight Days of Luke is what actually happened.
This is not to say that American Gods is an inferior work; it just feeds off different veins. Put it this way: Eight Days of Luke is razor sharp. It is short, and vibrant and sweet and sour and piercing as cold rain and it glitters. It is brilliant and strong, like hard liquor.
American Gods is beer. Or mead, if you like it that way. It is wide and expansive and meandering; reading it is like trying to make your way along the trunk of a fallen oak. The path keeps splitting and fracturing and getting narrower and narrower and you get twigs up your sleeves and…
…okay, the metaphor falls apart around there, but I hope you get my point. Which is this: the two books are equally good, just as they are equally different.
But Eight Days of Luke is the one that actually happened.
At the end of the 10th Anniversary Edition is a little extra scene that was cut from the book, in which the central character of the book, Shadow, meets Jesus.
I should think it would have been more interesting had he met David. I am sure they would have much to talk about.
When next I write there will be more relevant information, I hope. Like the release of the second Professor Odd story. Oh, and How to Meet Famous People at Cons (hint: it never works to go to their signings or mob them after panels. Better to be polite and friendly, and hope to run into them accidentally in rest rooms or dark alleys).
Now there are comic pages to sketch. Must be off.