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Neil Gaiman was in Melbourne last Friday night, and I missed him.

I was devastated. Well, I was upset. I’d be devastated if my family was in a car accident. Compared to that, missing Neil Gaiman was negligible. But I really, really wanted to see him.

Neil Gaiman is one of those writers I want to be, but can’t ever imagine myself being that good. I love his imagination, his ability to create mood and setting and character simply by sitting his protagonist down in a seedy diner and giving him a mug of mead. I love that there are so many of his books that I’ve read and love enough to re-read, and I love that there are so many of his books that I haven’t read yet and am so excited about.

Recently I read, for the first time, American Gods. I bought the tenth anniversary edition a few months ago, and as soon as I began reading, I wished that I’d began earlier. It was one of those books that you love to be in, one of the ones that you get to the end of and just want to go back to the beginning. At least, that’s what I wanted to do.

I loved the merging of mythologies, the idea that they could actually all exist at the same time. It’s something that I’ve considered for a long time, though my theories never had as much, well, panache as Gaiman’s.

I loved Shadow, the protagonist without a name. Throughout the novel I felt as though I barely knew him, though I desperately wanted to. By the end, I felt I knew him a little. And so I wanted to go back to the start and try to pick up what I’d missed.

I didn’t, unfortunately. Real life got in the way, as it does. Real life and work and love and Christmas. Oh, yes. Don’t think that just because I haven’t mentioned it that I don’t know that it’s nearly Christmas.

I thought that American Gods was a wonderful book, and not just for the above reasons. It also made me think – about our culture, and about my own life, and the gods that I worship. It made me frown, and it made me smile wryly. It’s nothing I haven’t considered before, but it was nice to hear it in a novel, and not just on the news.

So. American Gods. Neil Gaiman. Go read it. You never know – you might just like it too.