It was good, though I thought that it lacked a certain something. It had a sort of distant feel to it, that I wasn’t sure that I liked. Gaiman sort of sort of addresses what I’m getting at in this essay, and it’s entirely possible that others might not find this to be much of a problem at all.
It’s probably heresy among the Gaiman fans, but I just don’t think that he does as well in the novel format. I think he has a unique vibrancy to his writing that is uniquely suited to the graphical marriage of text and image in comic books. He’s also quite good at pinning an idea down (like a bug on a tackerboard) and fleshing it out over 20-30 pages. I found that his language lost a lot of its gumption when scrawled out over 300-400 pages. It grated a little.
So, if you’re going to read something by Neil Gaiman, I wouldn’t recommend American Gods. You’d do better off reading a short story or two from Smoke and Mirrors or cracking open one of his graphic novels.
Still, I think that Neil Gaiman is one of the most charming writers that I’ve ever seen speak in person. He came to town two or three years ago and attracted a huge crowd. I flashed on Charles Dickens, for a bit, the performative aspect of the reading was so strong.