In March, I stopped by a Barnes and Noble store. Featured on one of the tables near the entrance was a collection of short fiction and poetry by Neil Gaiman, an author with whom I was not acquainted. The blurbs in the book sounded interesting, but I wasn't ready to commit on the spot. So, a few days later, I went onto Amazon.com and checked out the reviews of some of his work.
First, most of the reviewers thought that Gaiman's novels were better than his shorter fiction, so I felt vindicated that I hadn't bought the collection. The general consensus among the reviews seemed to be that his novels American Gods and Neverland were his two best works, and the reviews seemed to tip slightly in favor of American Gods. So, I borrowed the book from the library and took it along on my trip to San Diego. I cracked open the book on my outbound flight...and was instantly captivated.
I have to say that the novel, which is 460 pages long, didn't keep me as completely captivated throughout as did the first chapter, but I am definitely a fan. American Gods is probably the strangest novel I've ever read, and parts of it are deeply disturbing and graphic. But Gaiman is like a cross between H.P. Lovecraft, Mark Twain, and Jack Kerouac. The book is definitely oriented toward male readers; most women, I believe, would find it subliminally sexist and portions of it especially disturbing. Nevertheless, I haven't been reading much fiction lately, and I'm not sorry that that I picked up this book.