Most things get better over time. Or perhaps the change is metaphysical, and only happens in our own minds; perhaps our minds are the ones that change when revisiting something familiar, bringing our latest experiences and feelings and thoughts into our perception of the said thing. I was never one to read the same book more than once. I was hungry; I wanted to devour new, enthralling stories, not return to old ones. But now I feel that re-reading a book is like returning to an expensive bottle of whiskey hidden in the cabinet, bought for a special occasion and left unfinished. When a new draught is poured, it will taste wonderful. Maybe it will be mixed with a splash of sour mix, even, to add something new to the robust flavors; maybe the whiskey will taste even better than the sensory memories allowed for. This is how I felt while re-reading American Gods.
I remember this book being rather dense at times during the first go around, even sort of convoluted. I experienced no such feelings the second time, and it was an absolute pleasure. I savored it, enjoying the journey I had traveled once in my mind a long time ago. American Gods is one of those books that I would imagine gets better with each new reading, as it is Neil Gaiman’s book. You know? His book. Each and every author should have a book, I think. The book is the thing they write as if they’re lying on their deathbed, each chapter packed with every reference, every obsession, every place, every myth, and every lovely and obscene image they’ve ever dreamed up. Then there are the crazy dreams, and hallucinations, and thoughts of revenge and heartache and disgust and psychosis and euphoria- they all must exist simultaneously in the book. The book is everything, a palimpsest of the different souls existing in harmony and in discordance with its author.
You can die happy, once you’ve written your book.
Some books are easier to spot than others (re: Uylesses). Others are more difficult to spot. But I do believe that stories such as these demand to be re-read, for there is more than just words on a page. There is lifeblood, for all who come to drink.