American Gods: Author's Preferred Text Info

Browse best sellers, historical fiction, literary fiction and find out our top picks in Literature & Fiction. Check out our top reviews in Literature & Fiction books and see what other readers have to say about American Gods: Author's Preferred Text Read&Download American Gods: Author's Preferred Text by Neil Gaiman Online


Since it was first published, American
Gods
 became an instant classic. Now discover the mystery and
magic of American Gods in this tenth anniversary
edition. Newly updated and expanded with the author’s preferred
text, this commemorative volume is a true celebration of a modern
masterpiece by the one, the only, Neil Gaiman.

Locked
behind bars for three years, Shadow did his time, quietly waiting for
the magic day when he could return to Eagle Point, Indiana. A man no
longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, all he wanted was to be with
Laura, the wife he deeply loved, and start a new life. 

But
just days before his release, Laura and Shadow’s best friend are
killed in an accident. With his life in pieces and nothing to keep him
tethered, Shadow accepts a job from a beguiling stranger he meets on the
way home, an enigmatic man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A trickster
and a rogue, Wednesday seems to know more about Shadow than Shadow does
himself. 

Life as Wednesday’s bodyguard, driver, and
errand boy is far more interesting and dangerous than Shadow ever
imagined—it is a job that takes him on a dark and strange road
trip and introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates
are mysteriously intertwined with his own.


Average Ratings and Reviews
review-bg

4.17

701266 Ratings

5

4

3

2

1


Ratings and Reviews From Market


client-img 4.3
3482
979
490
272
218
client-img 4.1
213
197
63
4
0
client-img 4.11
299348
275519
86322
2
0

Reviews for American Gods: Author's Preferred Text:

5

Jun 08, 2008

Anybody who tells you that the book is about old and new gods, or about a man named Shadow, or about coin tricks, or about having one's head smashed in for losing a game of checkers, is selling you a line, because those are just details, not the story itself.

Much like any Neil Gaiman story, the devil is in the details, and you just have to resolve yourself to coming along for the ride or you'll miss it. It's not one story, or two, it's many, and it's all complete...and you have to just read it, Anybody who tells you that the book is about old and new gods, or about a man named Shadow, or about coin tricks, or about having one's head smashed in for losing a game of checkers, is selling you a line, because those are just details, not the story itself.

Much like any Neil Gaiman story, the devil is in the details, and you just have to resolve yourself to coming along for the ride or you'll miss it. It's not one story, or two, it's many, and it's all complete...and you have to just read it, and enjoy it, and accept it. Or just don't bother.

I might as well sell you a violin as sell this book to you, or pluck a synopsis of it from behind your ear and then deposit it in my hand, only to have it turn into a critical review while your attention is elsewhere. But I won't, you'll just have to find the magic yourself. ...more
5

Mar 24, 2008

In 2003, I walked away from my childhood religion – a high control (some would say abusive) group with a tiny little worldview and a severe superiority complex.

This was my reality:











I believed with all my being that the things depicted above were real, and were just over the event horizon.

Leaving meant losing almost every friend I had ever made since childhood, it created a rift with my still devout family, and quite possibly saved my life.

Is it any wonder that fiction – alternate realities, In 2003, I walked away from my childhood religion – a high control (some would say abusive) group with a tiny little worldview and a severe superiority complex.

This was my reality:











I believed with all my being that the things depicted above were real, and were just over the event horizon.

Leaving meant losing almost every friend I had ever made since childhood, it created a rift with my still devout family, and quite possibly saved my life.

Is it any wonder that fiction – alternate realities, fantasy, and mental escape – helped me make that decision, helped me move on, and helped deprogram my cult-think? One fiction supplanted the other, only this time I already knew I was working with stories.

Some of this fiction I had read many times, not understanding why the stories resonated so strongly within me, just knowing that I was compelled to return to those worlds, over and over. Others were stories I read during the time surrounding my breakaway, and shortly thereafter.*

American Gods made me observe and think differently. It gave me a new context for the mythologies I had accepted for most of my life. It was bigger than the story of Shadow, or the girl Sam, or Czernabog. For me, it was about how we allow our Old Gods to define our present worldview, and how we allow our New Gods to steal our awareness. Our mythologies set the boundaries of our culture, and paradoxically, as our culture changes, our gods sacrifice their immortality.

"Religions are, by definition, metaphors, after all: God is a dream, a hope, a woman, an ironist, a father, a city, a house of many rooms, a watchmaker who left his prize chronometer in the desert, someone who loves you--even, perhaps, against all evidence, a celestial being whose only interest is to make sure your football team, army, business, or marriage thrives, prospers, and triumphs over all opposition."

The part of the story that affected me the most profoundly was the story of Hinzelmann and Lakeside. The mixing of good and evil, the blurring of lines, townspeople looking the other way – to such a degree that it never occurs to them to see what is happening right under their noses. Dead men's bones. Deaths of legends. It affected me to my core. During the time I was reading American Gods, it was this which rocked me – I was doing the same thing – choosing and keeping and killing my own Gods, my own mythologies.

It was tremendously painful, made a little easier by having the opportunity to process it within the bounds of somebody else's story.


*The rest of the list:

Dune
Chapterhouse Dune
Fahrenheit 451
Animal Farm
1984
Sandman
Crisis of Conscience
Under the Banner of Heaven
Seductive Poison
...more
3

Oct 31, 2011

This is a tough review for me to write. I'm not exactly sure what it is about this book that I don't like. I'm not sure there even IS something I don't like. Since I don't want to just leave you all with the ever popular "I'm just not that into it", I will try to explain.

This book has all the elements of a book I would enjoy. The creepiness factor is up there, the writing is brilliant, the main character is a big lug I couldn't help but love. Also, I have always been fascinated by mythology, so This is a tough review for me to write. I'm not exactly sure what it is about this book that I don't like. I'm not sure there even IS something I don't like. Since I don't want to just leave you all with the ever popular "I'm just not that into it", I will try to explain.

This book has all the elements of a book I would enjoy. The creepiness factor is up there, the writing is brilliant, the main character is a big lug I couldn't help but love. Also, I have always been fascinated by mythology, so that's a plus.

Shadow is our main character and he just got out of jail after doing his time of three years. Right before he is supposed to be released he is let out early, because his wife was killed, in apparently scandalous circumstances. The first 50ish pages were about the extent of where the book was interesting to me. Shadow meets Wednesday, and then the story turns into a bunch of mini stories and flashbacks, and I didn't enjoy most of them. Some were okay, but the majority just felt like annoying disruptions, and I felt myself thinking this is yet another longer book that could benefit from losing about 100 or so pages from the dragging middle. Shadow is paid by Wednesday to be an errand boy while he travels America trying to rally his troops in preparation for a war between The old Gods, and the new Gods (media and money) I guess it's my own fault. I couldn't really bring myself to care about this war between the new and old Gods, because the Gods of Media and Money? Not my Gods...

Books that are hyped up as much as this one leave me in a place where I tend to get disappointed, because it's so hard to live up to those expectations. Of course that's not the books fault, but I was just expecting to like this book much more than I did. I never felt engaged while reading this book, and that's the reason I couldn't rate this above three stars. I could appreciate the great writing and originality, however, so I couldn't give it below three stars.

Three stars it is folks, but as most of you know this book is loved by (almost) all, so of course I encourage everyone who is interested in this book already to read it, and form your own opinions. This book didn't do it for me, but I am definitely going to try some of Gaiman's other books and see if I have a better experience.
...more
1

Sep 23, 2012

I find myself shocked at the awards this book has won and the praise heaped upon it. How on Gods’ Earth could a book about Gods walking on the Earth among mortals be so pedestrian? Somehow Gaiman managed to turn a potentially cool premise into something boring. For those who love this book—and I know it is many—please forgive the sarcasm to follow as I blaspheme against the beloved Gaiman. But Gods help me, the more I read, the more I hated American Gods.

First off, while the premise sounds I find myself shocked at the awards this book has won and the praise heaped upon it. How on Gods’ Earth could a book about Gods walking on the Earth among mortals be so pedestrian? Somehow Gaiman managed to turn a potentially cool premise into something boring. For those who love this book—and I know it is many—please forgive the sarcasm to follow as I blaspheme against the beloved Gaiman. But Gods help me, the more I read, the more I hated American Gods.

First off, while the premise sounds interesting the more I thought about it, the less I liked it. The basic idea: the more worshippers a God has, the more powerful they are. The plot: there is a building power struggle between the old Gods (Norse, Native American, pagan, etc.) and the new Gods (Technology, Television, Money, etc.). Okay, I’ve heard the ratio-of-worshippers-to-power idea before so that’s not so original. But it’s not a deal breaker. It has potential. Here’s the unique twist in American Gods that caused my political antenna to start twitching—every God (like say Odin) has an “avatar” of him or herself in each country. Or is it each continent? Gaiman’s not quite clear about that. Would there be an Odin in Belgium and Luxembourg? Or does all of Europe get one Odin who is different from the American Odin? I find it politically disagreeable to suggest that every country (or even continent) has different God-avatars. To make this the premise turns intangible political entities (nations) into strictly bordered spiritual containers. It’s parochial thinking. I disagree with this premise radically because I reject that people of a given “nation” are somehow bonded spiritually. Countries are artificial. Like Afghanistan. Like how we stole the native people’s land to form America. I ascribe to the perspective that while people should always be fighting for political freedom and better political systems locally and nationally, we are truly citizens of the world together. The premise of American Gods manages to privilege the people in one country as somehow being united in their spiritual energy, feeding the Gods only within that country. As a metaphor (Gaiman repeatedly feels the need to state that this premise is a metaphor) it fails. There should be no metaphorical boundary between my spirit and my sister’s and brother’s spirits in Nicaragua, even if we have different local needs. Further, I could go on about how old Gods (religious deities) are in cahoots with modern Gods like wealth and technology. Just look at the fact that all the evangelists support the party of the 1%.

Political oversensitivity on my part aside, the rant continues.

The main character, Shadow, was about the dullest hero I’ve ever read. For Gods’ sake how many times do other characters have to refer to how “big” he is? Is he a big man? He sure is big. Wow, you’re big. Apparently he’s big. Is he big? Oh boy is he a big man. Yep, he’s big. He was big and boring and one-dimensional. So pure of heart that it grated on me. I found the majority of his dialogue to be trite and conventional. He struck me throughout as a pawn of the author (and yes he was a pawn of the Gods, too) more than a real being. His words were missing that spark of believability to bring the character to life. I didn’t even believe his repeated sleight-of-hand behavior. It felt like a character trait on a chart that Gaiman could pull out every couple of chapters. And when it came to the other God characters? I just wasn’t feelin’ it. They seemed phony as all get-out. I did not find his representation of them credible. I think my reaction to their characterizations were primarily due to a reaction to mediocre dialogue. The dialogue wasn’t awful, but I found it to be consistently off—slightly awkward, slightly unnatural, subtly stilted.

Most of the story was told in very close third person from Shadow’s point-of-view. But every once in a while, Gaiman would throw in a chapter from another character’s point-of-view. These chapters read in some ways like short stories inserted into the novel to expurgate some backstory, elucidate the God/worshipper premise in more detail, or delve into a side character. I find such techniques utterly amateurish. One or two “interludes” in a book might be acceptable but to have an entire story driving in a close third person POV and then jump into another character because you can’t “explain something” from the primary POV is cheap. It’s an easy out. I react badly when authors feel the need to “explain things” to begin with. And to interrupt the flow of the structure you’ve created to do so pisses me off. It made me feel as though Gaiman were talking down to me as the reader, like I was a little kid who didn’t get it. Or like his storytelling just wasn’t good enough to tell the story without jumping out of it to explain it. Understanding should come organically. Or else the POV jumping should happen more frequently, such as, every chapter. It’s all about rhythm of storytelling.

Swathes of American Gods were just plain boring. About 2/3 of the way through I started skipping whole paragraphs, then pages to get to plot events. All the stuff between the plot events was trying my patience. Shadow spends a great deal of time stuck in a small town in northern Wisconsin, meeting all these good-hearted locals and exploring bits of small-town life. I felt like I was stuck in a small town in northern Wisconsin during the winter the whole time. I’m like—this is not freaking Housekeeping and Gaiman sure ain’t Marilynne Robinson. He does not have the writing chops to pull off an intimate look at real small-town life.

Modest spoiler: (view spoiler)[The entire chapter where the old Gods meet the new Gods in truce made no logical sense. Even if the place they met was neutral due to its magical qualities, the new Gods simply had to track the trucks when the old Gods drove off and bomb the hell out of them. It was just this weird excuse to have some conversations between the old and new, between Shadow and the new Gods. And to get that body back. Contrived. (hide spoiler)]

Oh yeah, and if you tell me over and over again that (view spoiler)[a war is coming, (hide spoiler)] a big, big, big (view spoiler)[fucking war (hide spoiler)] is coming, then you better give me a big fucking (view spoiler)[war (hide spoiler)]. Guess what? What do you think?

Big spoiler here: (view spoiler)[Let me see if I can summarize the speech at the climax, which prevented the war from happening. Shadow finds out that his father set up the war all for his own gain. So he goes in front of all the Gods … what is he going to say? How is he going to stop this horrendous war from occurring? What could he possibly say?!?! Well, he proceeds to explain to them that his father set up the war all for his own gain. Wow. I can’t believe he pulled that off. Except by just explaining it. Which he did. Great. Thrilling. (hide spoiler)]

By the end, I was ready to shoot American Gods but I had to wade through an epilogue and a postscript. It was like a pimple on top of a wart. But I guess I’m not surprised that he wanted to tie up loose ends after the climax because he couldn’t figure out how to do it during the story itself. Bah.

I viscerally disliked this book. I think it’s because as a whole it felt emotionally manipulative. Such a charge could have been avoided with living, breathing characters. But despite the transparent planning and plotting, none of it rang true. Even Fantasy characters need to feel real. These didn’t. ...more
1

Jul 01, 2008

"Read Gaiman!" they say. "I can't believe you've never read Gaiman! You have GOT TO read Gaiman!" "Gaiman is SUCH an important part of popular culture and one of the BEST contemporary writers! You HAVE TO READ GAIMAN!"

Well, I've read Gaiman now.

Hi Gaiman!
Bye Gaiman!


Let me quote:
"American Gods is Neil Gaiman's best and most ambitious novel yet, a scary, strange, and hallucinogenic road-trip story wrapped around a deep examination of the American spirit."

I agree with everything but the beginning "Read Gaiman!" they say. "I can't believe you've never read Gaiman! You have GOT TO read Gaiman!" "Gaiman is SUCH an important part of popular culture and one of the BEST contemporary writers! You HAVE TO READ GAIMAN!"

Well, I've read Gaiman now.

Hi Gaiman!
Bye Gaiman!


Let me quote:
"American Gods is Neil Gaiman's best and most ambitious novel yet, a scary, strange, and hallucinogenic road-trip story wrapped around a deep examination of the American spirit."

I agree with everything but the beginning and the end. It certainly was scary, strange and hallucinogenic.
None of it in a good way.

I like nothing about this book. Not liking it isn't very difficult, because I have honestly no idea what was going on. Not that I didn't get the actual story, it wasn't that hard, since Mr. Gaiman sure isn't the most demanding writer (that isn't meant as a criticism, it can be a good thing). But why the things that were going on, were going on, completely eluded me. And while I kept on reading and wondering, 'huh? why? What now?', in the end, it all came up to "Why should I care?"

This isn't my kind of book, mainly due to the subject and the characters. That's why I don't think anything Gaiman wrote would be my kind of book. It certainly isn't a book, or an author, you HAVE to read.

I guess this, like that strange car race video game and Star Trek, will be parts of popular culture that will have to live without me. ...more
5

Jun 29, 2009

Whenever we have a cold snap here in Wisconsin, I find myself thinking about one of my favorite pieces of American Gods.

I remember reading it back in 2002 or so. This was back in the day. Back when it was a bit of a secret that Gaiman lived in Wisconsin.

I read the following section of the book nodding to myself, thinking, "Yup, that's exactly what it's like."

Then I had another thought: "I bet this comes from that really bad cold snap we had here in Wisconsin about six years ago."

It was Whenever we have a cold snap here in Wisconsin, I find myself thinking about one of my favorite pieces of American Gods.

I remember reading it back in 2002 or so. This was back in the day. Back when it was a bit of a secret that Gaiman lived in Wisconsin.

I read the following section of the book nodding to myself, thinking, "Yup, that's exactly what it's like."

Then I had another thought: "I bet this comes from that really bad cold snap we had here in Wisconsin about six years ago."

It was pretty cool for me, being able to guess where a this piece of this book got its start....

For those of you who haven't read it: here's the excerpt. The main character, Shadow, has just come to a small Wisconsin town, and he decides to walk into town to buy some warmer clothes and groceries.

* * *

The cold snap had come, that was for sure. It could not be much above zero, and it would not be a pleasant walk, but he was certain he could make it into town without too much trouble. What did Hinzelmann say last night—a ten-minute walk? And Shadow was a big man. He would walk briskly and keep himself warm. He set off south, heading for the bridge.

Soon he began to cough, a dry, thin cough, as the bitterly cold air touched his lungs. Soon his ears and face and lips hurt, and then his feet hurt. He thrust his ungloved hands deep into his coat pockets, clenched his fingers together trying to find some warmth.

[...]

Step after step after step. He glanced back. The apartment building was not as far away as he had expected.

This walk, he decided, was a mistake. But he was already three or four minutes from the apartment, and the bridge over the lake was in sight. It made as much sense to press on as to go home (and then what? Call a taxi on the dead phone? Wait for spring? He had no food in the apartment, he reminded himself).

He kept walking, revising his estimates of the temperature downward as he walked. Minus ten? Minus twenty? Minus forty, maybe, that strange point on the thermometer when Celsius and Fahrenheit say the same thing. Probably not that cold. But then there was wind chill, and the wind was now hard and steady and continuous, blowing over the lake, coming down from the Arctic across Canada.

Ten more minutes of walking, he guessed, and the bridge seemed to be no nearer. He was too cold to shiver. His eyes hurt. This was not simply cold: this was science fiction. This was a story set on the dark side of Mercury, back when they thought Mercury had a dark side. This was somewhere out on rocky Pluto, where the sun is just another star, shining only a little more brightly in the darkness. This, thought Shadow, is just a hair away from the places where air comes in buckets and pours just like beer.

The occasional cars that roared past him seemed unreal: spaceships, little freeze-dried packages of metal and glass, inhabited by people dressed more warmly than he was. An old song his mother had loved, “Walking in a Winter Wonderland,” began to run through his head, and he hummed it through closed lips, kept pace to it as he walked.

He had lost all sensation in his feet. He looked down at his black leather shoes, at the thin cotton socks, and began, seriously, to worry about frostbite.

This was beyond a joke. This had moved beyond foolishness, slipped over the line into genuine twenty-four-karat Jesus-Christ-I-screwed-up-big-time territory. His clothes might as well have been netting or lace: the wind blew through him, froze his bones and the marrow in his bones, froze the lashes of his eyes, froze the warm place under his balls, which were retreating into his pelvic cavity.

Keep walking, he told himself. Keep walking. I can stop and drink a pail of air when I get home....

* * *

And that, my friends, is one of the many reasons I love Neil Gaiman....
...more
4

Aug 01, 2013

(A-) 81% | Very Good
Notes: The concept’s pretty brilliant, but the plot can be slow and plodding at times and the end doesn't live up to the build.
3

Sep 28, 2016

My first thought on this book:



This is a 2.5 to 3 star book max for me. I am pretty sure this will be my last Neil Gaiman book. I have tried two others (Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch and The Ocean at the End of the Lane) and one of those was okay (Omens) and one of them I couldn't stand (Ocean).

I realize that my feelings on Gaiman and his books are contrary to popular opinion, but they are just not my cup of tea. They are slow. They seem intentionally odd and My first thought on this book:



This is a 2.5 to 3 star book max for me. I am pretty sure this will be my last Neil Gaiman book. I have tried two others (Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch and The Ocean at the End of the Lane) and one of those was okay (Omens) and one of them I couldn't stand (Ocean).

I realize that my feelings on Gaiman and his books are contrary to popular opinion, but they are just not my cup of tea. They are slow. They seem intentionally odd and artsy. By the end, I just don't care anymore. I think trying 3 of his books shows I have given him a good chance, but now it may be time to part ways.

American Gods has its interesting storylines (that is why I have rounded up to 3 stars) but overall, I didn't see the point. I expected some really interesting stuff to happen between all the Gods and mortals, but instead I got sometimes boring, sometimes unintelligible speeches, or really odd occurrences that come out of nowhere and make no sense. In general, I am not really sure why any of it happened other than Gaiman spewed forth some really weird stream of consciousness (This was the same way I felt about The Ocean at the End of the Lane).

So - if you love Gaiman, keep on reading! But, don't fault me for not caring for is style after several tries, it is just how I feel and I don't think it is going to get any better. ...more
5

Nov 10, 2012


In this unique love letter to the United States, Gaiman manages to celebrate its underground spiritual traditions, glory in the magnificence of its landmarks, landscapes, and bizarre tourist traps, and--most important--both mourn and venerate its pagan (often immigrant) gods in decline, battered and diminished though they may be by the shallowness and speed of our technological world. The gods are indeed the best part of this very good book: degenerate and threadbare, yet still gods, capable of
In this unique love letter to the United States, Gaiman manages to celebrate its underground spiritual traditions, glory in the magnificence of its landmarks, landscapes, and bizarre tourist traps, and--most important--both mourn and venerate its pagan (often immigrant) gods in decline, battered and diminished though they may be by the shallowness and speed of our technological world. The gods are indeed the best part of this very good book: degenerate and threadbare, yet still gods, capable of inspiring both allegiance and terror.

Gaiman loves not only fantasy, but also mystery and horror, and here he has constructed a book which fulfills the genre requirements of all. The plot is complicated and crammed with marvels: the beginning promises pleasures and horrors, the middle disturbs the balance, and the ending surprises and yet satisfies. ...more
4

Jan 23, 2018

Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end. The Old Gods - brought over by immigrants. Wild, fantastical tales of elephant-headed men and trickster spiders. Of power and lust. Of fear and worship.

The New Gods - created by the immigrants' descendants. Gods of money, media and might. Newly formed out of the hopes, dreams and desires of a people who've long since forgotten the Old Gods.

A Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end. The Old Gods - brought over by immigrants. Wild, fantastical tales of elephant-headed men and trickster spiders. Of power and lust. Of fear and worship.

The New Gods - created by the immigrants' descendants. Gods of money, media and might. Newly formed out of the hopes, dreams and desires of a people who've long since forgotten the Old Gods.

A storm is coming.

The New Gods, though young and foolhardy, know what they want and they want to take the world from the Old Gods.

Caught in the crossfires is one, very human, ex-prisoner named Shadow.

The ideas Neil Gaiman comes up with are simply stunning.

It's hard to describe this book - it's all-encompassing. This story feels so old and established - almost like it's a legend, passed down from generation to generation.

It crossed every genera - from romance to murder mystery to mythology - absolutely seamlessly.

I really loved all of the New Gods that Gaiman created.

There's The Technical Boy - God of the internet and computers.

The Black Hats - Gods of Conspiracy theories and shady ideas.

And, my personal favorite, Media - the Goddess of the Television. "The TV's the altar. I'm what people are sacrificing to."
"What do they sacrifice?" asked Shadow.
"Their time." And of course, because it's Neil Gaiman...there's a bunch of weird sex thrown in...because reasons.

Literally, one of the Old Goddesses ate a man alive with her "womanhood". Another time, Shadow was really injured and was healed through painfully descriptive sex magic.

Aside: Does anyone really know why Gaiman always does this? Can't we have one book where everyone keeps their clothes on?

And, if that wasn't confusing enough, in between the man-eating labia and sex-bandaids...we get absolutely adorable quotes like this: What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul. or this: The house smelled musty and damp, and a little sweet, as if it were haunted by the ghosts of long-dead cookies. Sometimes, I really want to know what goes through this man's head...and then again...maybe not.

Still, this was an extremely interesting read and one of the few Gaiman books that I enjoyed from cover to cover!

Audiobook Comments
Extremely well-read by Dennis Boutsikaris, Daniel Oreskes, Ron McLarty, and Sarah Jones. Each major character had a different voice actor/actress and it really enhanced the audio. The accents sounded accurate (to my untrained ear) and the whole book was immensely enjoyable to listen to!

The Finer Books Club - 2018 Reading Challenge: A book based in your home state

YouTube | Blog | Instagram | Twitter | Snapchat @miranda.reads

Happy Reading! ...more
1

Aug 27, 2015

Do you ever read a book and become completely lost in the words and, ultimately, wonder what is actually happening? Well, I do. So, I go back and read the bits I may not have picked up or accidently skimmed over. This allows me to actually understand the book. I tried doing that with this, and I quickly realised that I still had no idea what was going on. The plot of this felt completely random, drawn out to the point of ridiculousness and the events, themselves, felt incoherent. I have no idea Do you ever read a book and become completely lost in the words and, ultimately, wonder what is actually happening? Well, I do. So, I go back and read the bits I may not have picked up or accidently skimmed over. This allows me to actually understand the book. I tried doing that with this, and I quickly realised that I still had no idea what was going on. The plot of this felt completely random, drawn out to the point of ridiculousness and the events, themselves, felt incoherent. I have no idea why most of the events actually happened in here, and at this point, I can honestly say that just I don’t care anymore.

Did I miss something?

The book begins with the protagonist, Shadow, finishing his prison sentence. On the day of release his wife is killed in a car accident. What initially appears as mere bad fortune slowly evolves into what can only be considered as something much odder. His wife’s ghost visits him, and assists him in the random events he then encounters. I say random because that’s exactly what this book is. The events that occurred had no discernible point. I kept expecting to see some reasoning behind it all, but just couldn’t.

Perhaps I missed something. But the plot of this felt barely connected. There was an overall lack of cohesion and plot driver. I had very little reason to read this, and as I got further and further into it, I had even less. The book seemed to be going in a weird direction of its own that felt completely ungraspable. I just don’t understand the point of most of it; the characters all felt like they belonged in a psyche ward. I understand the overall meaning of the book, but the way in which the author presented it was awful. The actual events and scenes that took place were bizarre to the point of them having no purpose. For me, this book needed much more than just an overall juxtaposition of god types; it needed to be enjoyable on the surface level as well; it needed a proper plot.

This book almost killed me



If a book bores me this much, and confuses me this much, when reading, the overall message of the book cannot save it in my estimation. The reading process was dull and plain arduous, I wanted to cry at points because it was that bad. Indeed, I had to force myself to complete reading this incredibly packed out, and rambling piece of randomness. If someone asked me to give a concise summary of the book, and tell them what happened, I’d be unable to complete the task. Perhaps it’s just me, but this book is so strange. I have nothing positive to say about it, in any respect, and absolutely hated reading it. I just can’t appreciate what Gainman was trying to achieve because he did it such a roundabout way.

I simply detest this book. It was an absolute trudge to finish it. This just seemed far too long. The message that the author was trying to capture could have been done in half the word count. Perhaps, it doesn’t help that my copy was the original version, which means its twelve thousand words longer than the normal one. For me, this meant that there were entire chapters that were completely pointless. Nothing happened in them, and nothing was achieved through them. At points, this novel felt like a connected series of events that could barely be considered a plot. It will, indeed, be many months before I pick up another book by this author, maybe even years, maybe not ever again. I’ll never forgive the author for this tripe.

A very disheartened one star ...more
5

Jan 17, 2012

American Gods by Neil Gaiman, by the author’s own description, is a work that has inspired strong emotions and little in between – readers have either liked it a lot, or loathed it entirely.

Reading some of the reviews bears witness to this dichotomy.

I liked it, liked it a lot, but I can also understand why someone may dislike the work. Gaiman, in his storyteller way, has stepped over boundaries and stepped on toes. And not just religious or theological ideas, but nationalistic ideals as well. American Gods by Neil Gaiman, by the author’s own description, is a work that has inspired strong emotions and little in between – readers have either liked it a lot, or loathed it entirely.

Reading some of the reviews bears witness to this dichotomy.

I liked it, liked it a lot, but I can also understand why someone may dislike the work. Gaiman, in his storyteller way, has stepped over boundaries and stepped on toes. And not just religious or theological ideas, but nationalistic ideals as well. Gaiman has painted a portrait of America that is not photographic, but impressionist enough to grasp a resemblance of us as maybe we are, and maybe he gets closer to the truth of the matter than some are comfortable with. And I’m not talking about myths, but rather, as he puts it, the myths we have lived with, tangled into the skein of our culture and even formed ourselves.

Like many great works, and I do count this work among that group, the story works on multiple levels. It is on its surface a fantasy, rich in detail and fun to read, but also on the level of metaphor with complicated ideas and symbols thrown in, a novel that leaves the reader satisfied but still with a lot to consider once the book is put down.

Like almost all great works, putting the book down is not an easy thing, and difficult to admit that the story is over.

***** 2017 re-read

“What I say is, a town isn’t a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but unless it’s got a bookstore, it knows it’s not foolin’ a soul.”

“Hey," said Shadow. "Huginn or Muninn, or whoever you are."
The bird turned, head tipped, suspiciously, on one side, and it stared at him with bright eyes.
"Say 'Nevermore,'" said Shadow.
"Fuck you," said the raven.”

“Every hour wounds. The last one kills.”

“I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you're alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”

“The house smelled musty and damp, and a little sweet, as if it were haunted by the ghosts of long-dead cookies.”

“Religions are, by definition, metaphors, after all: God is a dream, a hope, a woman, an ironist, a father, a city, a house of many rooms, a watchmaker who left his prize chronometer in the desert, someone who loves you—even, perhaps, against all evidence, a celestial being whose only interest is to make sure your football team, army, business, or marriage thrives, prospers, and triumphs over all opposition. Religions are places to stand and look and act, vantage points from which to view the world. So none of this is happening. Such things could not occur. Never a word of it is literally true.”

******* 2019 reread – So I had to reread this because I watched the Starz series.

Liked it. Liked the direction, liked the casting. Good adaptation.

The pace of the series is too slow, though, and moving in odd directions, I’m ready to get to Chattanooga!

Anytime I get to read about or see something in my state I get as excited as a dog riding in a car and looking out the open window.

“Hey! I know that place, I’ve been there! Hey everybody, you can see my house from there!” and so on. I turn into a six-year-old when I eat too – “Why yes! I did have spaghetti with red sauce for lunch, how on Earth did you guess??”

One other thing all my GR friends should know about us Tennesseans. Doesn’t matter if we’re a hillbilly from East Tennessee or a Blues Traveler from Memphis, we all agree on one thing: anybody disrespects Dolly Parton, and you’re looking for a fight.

OK.

So.

On to the 2019 reread of Gaiman’s masterpiece.

I love this book, enjoy the story immensely. What Gaiman has done is to create an urban fantasy that blends elements of myth and legend into a realizable whole, deftly combining theology with mystery.

This time around I paid closer attention to the characters, not just Shadow and Wednesday, but also Laura, and Anansi, and Easter and Mad Sweeney, and Bilquis and Czernobog, and Whiskey Jack. I liked how the Starz series developed Laura’s character (though I did not like the casting) and also Mad Sweeney’s storyline.

I have picked out seven books that are my favorite and this is one of them, and I’ll read this again.



...more
5

Mar 22, 2019

***Now a celebrated TV series on Starz.***

“‘I read some book about brains,’ she said. ‘My roommate had it and she kept waving it around. It was like, how five thousand years ago the lobes of the brain fused and before that people thought when the right lobe of the brain said anything it was the voice of some god telling them what to do. It’s just brains.’

‘I like my theory better,’ said Shadow.

‘What’s your theory?’

‘That back then people used to run into the gods from time to time.’”


Shadow ***Now a celebrated TV series on Starz.***

“‘I read some book about brains,’ she said. ‘My roommate had it and she kept waving it around. It was like, how five thousand years ago the lobes of the brain fused and before that people thought when the right lobe of the brain said anything it was the voice of some god telling them what to do. It’s just brains.’

‘I like my theory better,’ said Shadow.

‘What’s your theory?’

‘That back then people used to run into the gods from time to time.’”


Shadow Moon is played by Ricky Whittle. Excellent casting.

There are few experiences that will teach someone more about himself better than going to prison. It is a microcosm. It is like shoving the world into a shoebox. There are rules, not prison rules, but prisoner rules, and you better get them figured out in a hurry. It is one of the few places remaining where people really have to interact and deal with other people. Inmates learn how to cooperate, or really bad things happen.

Plenty of bad things happen anyway.

Time keeps traveling at a normal rate outside, but inside the box, this minute is the same as the last minute, and when a person emerges from prison, it is like being dropped into a different world because his brain is still shackled in place, in whatever decade he first went into prison. A person spends a lot of time with himself in lockup. They become either a better version of themselves or a horrible twisted version of who they were supposed to be.

Shadow lost his temper and lost three years. He came out of prison probably a better person than who he was going to be. He learned to ignore the bullshit and focus on what was most important...living.

The universe is not done fucking with Shadow, not by a long shot. Prison is just the beginning, the burnishing of his character. He barely has made footprints in the dusty highway of his new life when he meets a god. Like it would with any of us, it takes a while for him to really believe he has met a god. This supposed god doesn’t glow or have a thunderous voice. He is abnormal, but in a kooky uncle sort of way, who besides being weird also happens to be a con man. He is frankly...kind...of...annoying.

Gods have fallen on hard times in America.

This god needs Shadow to work for him.

“The land is vast. Soon enough, our people abandoned us, remembered us only as creatures of the old land, as things that had not come with them to the new. Our true believers passed on, or stopped believing, and we were left, lost and scared and dispossessed, to get by on what little smidgens of worship or belief we could find. And to get by as best we could.”

Christianity commits deicide. The whole convert or die thing sort of makes pagans and what would be considered alternative religion types to quickly reevaluate their level of faith in the old gods. It is easier, after all, to focus on one god than figuring out the pantheon of gods they were trying to please before the first bedraggled priest washed up on the shores of their community. Christianity simplified faith. This left all the old gods, used to receiving tasty animal sacrifices, fresh fruits, virgins, bereft of not only sustenance but also...love.

We brought these gods to America with us and then abandoned them.

The new gods who are putting the final nail in their celestial coffins are the new deities, such as internet, media, and cell phones. They hurl insults like these: “You-you’re a fucking illuminated gothic black-letter manuscript. You couldn’t be hypertext if you tried. I’m…I’m synaptic, while, while you’re synoptic…” It is hard to be insulted by a compliment, isn’t it? These new gods are even starting to chip away at the strong foothold that Christianity has on the minds of the American people. If he doesn’t watch out, JC is going to be bumming rides from truckers on the interstate and hoping for the kindness of his former people, eyes focused like zombies on the screens before them, for a handout.

Not to mention the fact that Shadow has televisions asking him, ”Do you want to see Lucy’s tits?”

I’d explain that, but it is more fun for you to find out for yourself.

Needless to say, things are dire.


Ian McShane plays Mr. Wednesday, brilliantly of course.

Shadow’s boss, Mr. Wednesday, you can probably figure out who he is, decides it is time to wipe the new kids off the block (a version of Titan vs Olympian) and seize the power the old gods so passively let slide through their fingers. Shadow is caught right in the damn middle of it. He is Odysseus in the midst of the Trojan War.

Shadow naturally asks himself, why me?

When Neil Gaiman first submitted this book for publication, his editor/publisher suggested that he cut 12,000 words out of the manuscript. If you are having deja vu feelings of The Stand by Stephen King, you are on the right fright frequency. Gaiman won a plethora of awards for American Gods, so how can you argue that the cuts weren’t a good idea? The thing is, those orphaned 12,000 words were still whispering to Gaiman, and when the decision was made to put out a tenth anniversary edition, he decided it was time to put the kids back with their parents. I would highly suggest reading the 10th anniversary edition. I do not feel the book is bloated. All the scenes are relevant to the larger arc of the plot. I would be nervous to lose the experience of reading any part of this book.

I was skeptical when I began reading this book. Gaiman introduces these gods from different cultures and does not exactly explain who any of them are, or at times he is even being cagey with their names. He is expecting a certain sophistication from his readers that is not only refreshing, but startlingly bold. I thought, in the beginning, that he has the Stephen King magic figured out with the easy accessibility of the writing and enough interesting factoids to make people feel like they are learning something as they work their way through the plot. He has those things, but he doesn’t just let us dog paddle on the surface of the water. He snags our ankles and thrusts us deeper beneath the waves to where things get dark, and we have no choice but to examine ourselves in the context of this story.

And what a pleasant surprise it has been.

”Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.”

With books like this, we resume a richer life.

If you wish to see more of my most recent book and movie reviews, visit http://www.jeffreykeeten.com
I also have a Facebook blogger page at:https://www.facebook.com/JeffreyKeeten ...more
5

Jun 24, 2017

‘’Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed in the end.’’

Why do gods have to fight and die? Isn’t there enough space in people’s hearts to accommodate everyone, as in the old days? New gods and old gods, but it seems that they aren’t all powerful as such. They need the mortals to believe in them, otherwise they simply cease to exist.

I initially thought I wouldn’t write a review about Neil Gaiman’ ‘’Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed in the end.’’

Why do gods have to fight and die? Isn’t there enough space in people’s hearts to accommodate everyone, as in the old days? New gods and old gods, but it seems that they aren’t all powerful as such. They need the mortals to believe in them, otherwise they simply cease to exist.

I initially thought I wouldn’t write a review about Neil Gaiman’s gloriously dark, strange and haunting classic. I mean, what can I say that hasn’t been said? And then, I thought ‘’come on, it’s an honour that you have the chance to write a review that will occupy a teeny tiny corner in this endless space that is Internet. (...too much Tech-boy influence…) So these are my two cents for a book that my review cannot do justice to.

It has been on my lists for years, right after I read ‘’Coraline’’ and ‘’Stardust’’, but the marvellous TV series made me started it sooner than I thought. I couldn't possibly wait to witness the conclusion in 3-4 years on the telly, when the book was on my shelf. And this gives me the opportunity to say that the spirit of the book was perfectly captured and transferred to the small screen (unlike other examples…) and the expanded parts made the essence of the book even more significant, at least to me. As Wednesday and Shadow start a road trip in preparation for the war that is coming- a fight between the old gods, the values that created the country and the new gods that bring corruption and progress built in sand (yes, that is my personal conclusion….) - we, the readers, find ourselves on a journey that gives us much to think of. Is the old world a better place? Are the values that bring hope and comfort to the people to be destroyed by media, technology and the new World? I believe that each one of us can draw their personal conclusions.

‘’We like to be big. Now, in these shabby days, we are small. The new gds rise and fall and rise again. But this is not a country that tolerates gods for long.’’

Gaiman’s writing is exceptional, obviously. There are so many beautiful quotes, so many dark moments of terrifying awe that clearly show why he’s considered a master of his Art. The themes he relates to the people who shaped America -by force or by their own free will- the cultures and the gods that crossed the ocean to protect those who believed in them and ended up almost destitute, couldn’t be more relevant to our current times. Gaiman doesn’t take sides, in my opinion. He presents gods and goddesses from all pantheons with respect and a hint of bittersweet remembrance, perhaps, for the lost pedestals and the wasted sacrifices through the ages.

The parts that I consider the jewel of the book are all the ‘’Coming to America’’ chapters that show how the real heroes of the story are the people,not the gods. My favourites are the story of Essie Tregowan, a young woman from Cornwall who tries to make her fortune by shady ways, the story of Wututu, a slave girl during the late 1700s and the story of Atsula, a prehistoric priestess. They are among the most moving literary pieces you’ll ever read.

Not much can be said about the characters, they are gods and they crave love and devotion. Are they really that different to humans?I don't think so. Shadow I loved, I don’t understand why many refer to him as being ‘’simple’’ or even devoid of personality. Yes, of course, he is simple. A simple human being thrust in the middle of a fight between all mighty deities. He is loyal, clever and kind, a character at a loss and at a crossroads, one who the reader can understand and identify with, if that is possible.

The edition of my copy contains a short interview with Neil Gaiman and a novella, ‘’The Monarch of the Glen’’, along with an essay by Gaiman called ‘’How Dare You?’’ (I love that name!) All of the above are great reads. It is a book that shows much and hides even more. It wants us to contemplate on a number of themes that are larger than life,impossible to be answered, and yet they will be sought after by generations as long as mankind exists.Those who claim the opposite are simply lying to themselves. And thank the goddess of Literature for Neil Gaiman.

‘’ ‘’Gods are great’’, said Atsula, slowly, as if she were comprehending a great secret. ‘’But the heart is greater. For it is from our hearts they come, and to our hearts they shall return.’’
...and perhaps, sometimes, we should listen to our hearts…

*Disclaimer- I will not engage in any religious discussion of any form. If you belong to the clan of the very few ones that go around looking for a fight, turn around and go elsewhere. You will find no response here. It is my conviction that religious beliefs is the most personal of issues and I do not discuss anything religious or anything that has to do with politics. My religious beliefs are my own and concern noone. And I will not tolerate any aggressive comments towards specific religions or religion in general, towards atheism,atheists, non-believers and the like. You get the drill. Comments regarding religion of any kind will be deleted and flagged. Thankfully, there is space for everyone in this awful (?) world and respect is the thing.Thank you:)* ...more
2

Sep 02, 2015

I find it really weird how many American media products have the word "American" in the title. Obviously, this; a few weeks back I also read American Rust. You've got your American Beauty, American Ninja, An American Werewolf in London. American Psycho. American Sniper. American Pie, American Dad, American Graffiti. What is going on here, what are they trying to prove?? I really don't understand it. I mean you'd never get "British Beauty", "French Psycho", would you? That just seems completely I find it really weird how many American media products have the word "American" in the title. Obviously, this; a few weeks back I also read American Rust. You've got your American Beauty, American Ninja, An American Werewolf in London. American Psycho. American Sniper. American Pie, American Dad, American Graffiti. What is going on here, what are they trying to prove?? I really don't understand it. I mean you'd never get "British Beauty", "French Psycho", would you? That just seems completely laughable.

Anyway, I really didn't get this book. It made no sense to me at all. I mean it's a fun conceit, that gods are living among men in modern day America, desperate to regain the faith they once commanded, but I just felt like it wasn't thought through properly. It presents itself as being predicated on the idea that ‘America is a bad land for gods’ – this is something that characters keep saying to one another, moodily, that America is a really bad land for gods – and this is apparently why all the gods are now living hand-to-mouth existences as drifters or menial labourers.

Only – huh? Are we talking about the same America here? The one where 51 percent of the population think that humans were created by a divine being, and a further 40 percent think they were created by evolution which was set in motion by a divine being (leaving, as Tim Minchin said, a very small percentage of Americans who are right)? Is that the America that is supposed to be a bad land for gods? Do me a favour, it must be one of the most religious countries in the western world. I've driven through my share of rural Tennessee, where much of American Gods takes place, and one of the most striking things about these communities is the fact that there seems to be one church for every six or seven houses. God is invoked on the currency, on the news, by the head of state, and in schoolrooms every morning by little kids.

This is what is so frustrating about the book, because it seems like a brilliant chance to examine religion in the US in a cool and interesting way – but it doesn't. It either doesn't dare or it doesn't bother. I mean – if you're going to run with this idea that gods are walking around, with the more powerful deities being those who have the most believers, then where the fuck is Yahweh? I'm supposed to believe that Anubis is twatting around driving a hearse in fucking Cairo, IL. – despite the fact that no one in the history of America has ever worshipped Anubis – and yet Jesus doesn't make a single appearance? Somehow it's OK to play around with foreign gods that seem quaint or folkloric, but monotheism's off the table. It just didn't make any sense to me.¹

Instead, what we have to propel the narrative along is just a kind of comic-book war that we're supposed to care about. So although there were quite a few scenes that had me flipping the pages with engagement, there was always this nagging feeling that none of it really meant anything and that I didn't really care very much what happened to anyone. It doesn't help that the protagonist (with the dreadful name of ‘Shadow Moon’) is, for a central character, annoyingly passive and lacking in personality (although the goddesses he encounters still have a remarkable habit of wanting to have sex with him).

As for the writing style, well, it's fine, but it has absolutely no flair. There's quite an interesting bit in the Acknowledgements where Gaiman thanks many of his beta-readers and editors for spotting ‘stray and unintentional anglicisms’, presumably so he could remove them; this I think is something that contributes to the featureless blandness of his style. I'm not saying he is unentitled to this voice or anything like that – his wife is American, he lives in America, this is totally an authentic voice for him. It's just not one that has any character. It works in a kind of tab-A-into-slot-B way.

This is certainly not a bad book and it's quite readable – I think I'm just disappointed because I had unfairly high hopes, and I liked the concept, and I have a lot of friends who really enjoyed it. For me it was just a bit baffling and cartoony. In the same way that His Dark Materials is like a children's story for grown-ups, American Gods felt like an adult story for children. This is my third Neil Gaiman book (after Sandman and Smoke and Mirrors) and they have all been underwhelming; I think I'll just leave him alone now, since I'm sure they deserve higher ratings than I'm prepared to give them, but that's what you get when I try and squeeze in a review at 01:23 am in a foreign city when I still have another two hours' work to do before I can go to bed.


¹This "Tenth Anniversary Edition" includes in its appendices a brief section in which Jesus does, in fact make a brief appearance. This was cut from the original published version, and you can see why; it is very short and it raises more questions than it answers. The problem is, these are the questions the book should have been about. ...more
4

Jan 03, 2018

I listened to the full cast audiobook of this while on a long drive and I highly recommend it for the experience.

This book is meandering, in such a way that you can feel yourself getting lost. But, in Gaiman fashion, he has a way of tying everything up in the end (or not in some cases) in a way that was satisfying for me.

If you don't mind a character focused story with a lot of detours and LOVE mythology, you'll eat this up.
4

Apr 13, 2009

High 3.5 maybe 4 stars?



I can't say this is one I would recommend to everyone, and I certainly won't be shoving it down peoples' throats.
But I liked it.
Now, somehow I ended up with the extended 10 year anniversary edition. So, maybe that's why it took me forever to finish this. But I don't think that was entirely the issue. It's just a loooong fuckin' book. And not much happens in it action-wise, so you're not exactly flipping the pages with any intensity.



There's not even really (in my High 3.5 maybe 4 stars?



I can't say this is one I would recommend to everyone, and I certainly won't be shoving it down peoples' throats.
But I liked it.
Now, somehow I ended up with the extended 10 year anniversary edition. So, maybe that's why it took me forever to finish this. But I don't think that was entirely the issue. It's just a loooong fuckin' book. And not much happens in it action-wise, so you're not exactly flipping the pages with any intensity.



There's not even really (in my opinion) a slow-build up to anything super-exciting. And what I mean by that, is that I never once thought to myself, Oh! Something GOOD is gonna happen in the next few pages!, you know?
Thing is, it has everything I could want in a book. Half-crazy gods, zombie ex-wife, tarnished-but-decent hero, missing kids, and unlikely friendships.
However, it also has everything I usually despise in a book. Trippy/hallucinogenic dream sequences, random quotes from other pieces of literature, plodding storyline, and no action.
But Neil Gaiman just oozes so much talent that somehow I still liked it.
Which is saying a lot, because I'm normally a real asshole when I feel like a book needed to be chopped down by about 400 pages.



Although, unless someone can tell me that Anansi Boys is an Awesome-Not-To-Be-Missed-Roller-Coaster-Thrill-A-Minute-Ride, I'm gonna have to say no to that one.

...more
5

Jun 26, 2011



My literary promiscuity being what it is, I have read and loved a lot of novels in many different genres. However, among the beau coup books that I have loved long time there are a select few that hold a special, hallowed place in my pantheon of favorites…American Gods is one of these elite.

Gaiman’s writing is both subdued and poetic. It is deeply emotional, but without a hint of melodrama. His descriptions are elaborate yet not drawn out. He tells a huge, complex, eternal story, one small

My literary promiscuity being what it is, I have read and loved a lot of novels in many different genres. However, among the beau coup books that I have loved long time there are a select few that hold a special, hallowed place in my pantheon of favorites…American Gods is one of these elite.

Gaiman’s writing is both subdued and poetic. It is deeply emotional, but without a hint of melodrama. His descriptions are elaborate yet not drawn out. He tells a huge, complex, eternal story, one small tale at a time. I don’t know how else to say it, in this book Neil Gaiman took story telling and made it his bitch.

Therefore, upon learning that I had the opportunity to read Neil Gaiman’s preferred and expanded version of AG containing an additional 12000 words, my reaction is what you might expect. I exploded into tears of ecstasy, lost my bowels and wept uncontrollably for well over an hour. This made for a particularly awkward moment at the book store but at least I was prepared…

Later, when I was calmed down, cleaned up and baby powdered, I sat down and tore through this over the weekend.

Since this is the 10th anniversary edition of this modern fantasy classic, I am going to assume that a fair number of you reading this are at least familiar with the story. However, I will still avoid major spoilers in this review, except for disclosing (1) the identity of Wednesday and (2) the basic plot. Both of these things are revealed pretty early in the book so I don’t think I’m story flashing any of you with this information. I just think it is difficult to explain the novel without these two nuggets of bookformation.

Therefore, for those of you that don’t want any spoilers, you may want to look away now…

….for everyone else, let’s talk AMERICAN GODS….and English gods…and Irish gods…and Norse/Scandinavian gods…German and Russian gods…and Egyptian gods…and Greek gods (plus those “FUCKING Albanian” gods)…and Indian, Hindu and Japanese gods…and Hungarian gods…and Babylonian and Persian gods…and Native American gods…and Voodoo gods…and African gods….and even “forgotten” gods...plus all manner of dwarf, sprite, imp, giant, kobold, vampire, mythological beast, djinn, witch…and one very large and mysterious SHADOW!! Just listing the countries represented in this book makes me smile and break out in goose zits.

THE TALE OF AMERICAN GODS

So our guide throughout the story is Shadow. Shadow’s a big, soft spoken, even tempered bad-ass, ex-con whose life is shattered by the tragic death of his wife in a car accident (there is more to it than that, but, you know, spoilers and such). While reeling from the aftermath of his loss, Shadow is approached by smooth-talking and mysterious grifter named Mr. Wednesday. [HERE COMES MINOR SPOILER #1].

Turns out, Wednesday is actually a manifestation of Odin, ruler of the Norse Gods, and king of all things Asgardian.

Why you ask is the “AllFather,” the god of war, wisdom, poetry and magic scraping his way through life as an aging con man? Ah….that brings us to the heart and soul of the story.

You see gods are sustained and kept strong, according to the novel, by people’s worship and their belief in them. Thus, when the ancient Norsemen came to America, they brought belief in their gods with them. When they made sacrifices to Odin, Thor and the rest of the Norse gods, it made them strong and powerful. Conversely, as the people forgot about the gods and stopped telling their tales and making offerings to them, their power waned, until now at the beginning of the 21st century in America, Odin’s godly “vigor” is all but lost.

Meanwhile, the “gods” of the 21st century have grown strong and powerful. These new gods of Media, Technology, Internet, Electricity, Highways, Drugs, etc. are young, brash and dripping with vitality due to the worship and adoration they receive from you and me. Now, these godly young turkers and looking to destroy Odin and his ilk forever and claim supremacy over all of godness.

A war is coming…sweet!!!

Realizing the powerful of the 21st century gods, Odin is on recruiting mission to gather up the old gods and get them to sack up in order to avoid being slaughtered at the hands of the upstarts. He hires Shadow to be a glorified errand boy at $500 bucks a week and to accompany him as he travels America (and places in between) trying to rally his gang of gods to fight in the coming battle.

From a broad brush perspective, that is really the frame for this novel. However, as with all great art, the beauty of this story is in the details, the aspects, the shadings, the nuances. Odin’s mission acts as a terrific catalyst for Gaiman to explore the history of America, his great love of mythology and the enormous power of belief. ‘This is the only country in the world,’ said Wednesday, into the stillness, ‘that worries about what it is….The rest of them know what they are. No one ever needs to go searching for the heart of Norway. Or looks for the soul of Mozambique. They know what they are.’
As with many of my favorite books, this is a “journey” story and not a “destination” story. Thus, if you’re someone who doesn’t like tangents, flashbacks, veer offs or segues in your plot and are constantly hoping to straight line towards the conclusion, than this book might frustrate you enough to cause hives. This is a beautiful, elegant, but long and meandering journey through the heart and soul of America full of rich and detailed landscapes, historical flashbacks, memorable characters and mythological anecdotes.

Now, despite the novel taking its sweet, leisurely time sauntering towards the end, when it finally gets there, it is arguably my favorite 100 pages of any book EVER. In fact, the climax is so amazingly good that is it likely to cause one…so be prepared


Of course, I am talking about the final dust up between the old and the new. This segment is filled with more gods and legendary creatures than I have ever seen assembled in one story (if you are a South Park fan, think Imagination Land and you will have an idea of the kind a concentrated star power I mean). There's never been a true war that wasn't fought between two sets of people who were certain they were in the right. The really dangerous people believe they are doing whatever they are doing solely and only because it is without question the right thing to do. And that is what makes them dangerous.
ADDITIONS TO THE PREFERRED TEXT

For those of you that have read the original and are wondering whether this expanded edition is worth your time, I say yes…with a caveat. I don’t see a need to go rush out and read this if you have just finished the original version of American Gods. The story is basically the same and the added text is not so extensive that they change the essence of the novel. However, it you are thinking of a re-read or have never read the story before, I would certainly recommend this edition as I think it provides some additional insight and clarifications that are interesting and worthwhile. Plus, this expanded version also includes a very neat “apocryphal” segment in the afterward showing Shadow meeting up with Jesus that I thought was interesting.

Overall, I love this book. I have now read it three times (something I do not generally do with books) and I am fairly certain that a fourth time is in my future. If you love mythology, it is hard for me to imagine you not loving this book. One thing I would recommend is that you have handy either your own mythology guide or else a link to this website that lists all of the gods appearing in the novel. http://frowl.org/gods/gods.html#odin

I think it enhances the experience of the story significantly being able to match up the people encountered in the book with their mythological persona. 6.0 stars. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION!!

P.S. BONUE QUOTE

I couldn’t find a way to work this in above, but it is one of my favorite quotes from the book, so I wanted to share it: God does not play dice with the universe; He plays an ineffable game of His own devising, which might be compared, from the perspective of the players, to being involved in an obscure and complex version of poker in a pitch-dark room, with blank cards, for infinite stakes, with a Dealer who won’t tell you the rules, and who smiles all the time.
...more
3

Jun 27, 2017

I am writing this review ten months after I started this book, and eight months after finishing it, because in addition to me taking two-thirds of a year to get around to penciling in some thoughts I also took straight up sixty days to read it.

Well, not read it. Listen to it.

This is the first audiobook I have ever listened to, and it is twenty hours long. This event caused me to give myself the well-earned and extremely catchy nickname “the real American God of this whole situation - get it I am writing this review ten months after I started this book, and eight months after finishing it, because in addition to me taking two-thirds of a year to get around to penciling in some thoughts I also took straight up sixty days to read it.

Well, not read it. Listen to it.

This is the first audiobook I have ever listened to, and it is twenty hours long. This event caused me to give myself the well-earned and extremely catchy nickname “the real American God of this whole situation - get it because that’s the title of the book? Funny, right? Yeah.”

I have read five Neil Gaiman books, and I have given three of them five stars. THREE OF THEM. THREE OUT OF FIVE. SIXTY PERCENT. What a track record!

I have three starred the other two. One of them was Fortunately, the Milk, which, like, who cares at all, and the other was this book.

This didn’t feel Gaiman-y to me. The books of his I’ve five starred have been a touch creepy, magic-feeling, atmospheric. The language has been amazing and the depictions of the world (and of childhood) are unparalleled and I’ve come away from each one with a changed view of the world that sticks with me fully for days, and remains in bits and pieces for the foreseeable future. They’re quotable and memorable and gorgeous and visceral and I can imagine rereading them immediately after finishing them.

This book was NONE OF THOSE THINGS.

It was okay. That’s it.

Unfortunately my thoughts on this are inextricable from my listening experience, and double unfortunately that will never be corrected because I’m not going to reread this. (Or, really, read it for the first time. Because of the whole listening thing. Ugh you get what I mean.)

I was more excited about the concept of this book than I’ve been for any Gaiman stuff, and loooooook where it got me. This sounds so flippin’ cool and instead it’s boring and confusing. The characters are as interesting as the underside of most shoes (this in spite of the fact that most of them are ANCIENT GODS, so that’s quite a feat). The plotline is not gripping.

A book whose main conceit is that every god that has ever been worshipped exists should be fascinating. A book in which that is true and also the gods are going to war should be fascinating AND fun. A book in which the aforementioned is true and also it is written by Neil Gaiman should be fascinating and fun AND full-on amazing.

American Gods is none of those things and it will be the great quest of my remaining days on this earth to figure out why the hell not.

Neil, if you’re reading this, shoot me an email.

Bottom line: I’M SORRY I DIDN’T LIKE THIS I’M CONFUSED AND UPSET EVEN EIGHT MONTHS AFTER THE FACT SO CUT ME SOME SLACK OK. Emotional turmoil central over here.


--------------------
currently-reading updates

yes, this is the 7th book i'm currently reading. what of it? please send help.

the first book in my audiobook extravaganza! thanks to Caidyn and James for recommending. ...more
3

Aug 27, 2014

I finished American Gods two weeks ago and I postponed writing a review as I was trying to come up with something smart to match the book. Obviously, as always when I struggle too much, nothing comes to min. I will just let my heart do the talking, then.

Neil Gaiman is a genius. There is something magical about his writing that enwraps me every time I open the pages of his creations. Maybe it is the way he combines action, mystery, mythology, mysticism, surreal, together with life lessons and I finished American Gods two weeks ago and I postponed writing a review as I was trying to come up with something smart to match the book. Obviously, as always when I struggle too much, nothing comes to min. I will just let my heart do the talking, then.

Neil Gaiman is a genius. There is something magical about his writing that enwraps me every time I open the pages of his creations. Maybe it is the way he combines action, mystery, mythology, mysticism, surreal, together with life lessons and harsh truths. His fantasy is different from everything else I read of this genre, weird, disturbing but amazing.

I was awed by the idea of the book. Gods being brought to America by the migrants who believed in them. As the next generations believe less and less in them, the Old Gods loose their power and are forced to live as ordinary people, struggling to make a living. New gods appear (technology, media) to replace the old ones but in the end, as America evolves, they will become obsolete as well.

Although people say that this is Neil Gaiman’s masterpiece I enjoyed The Ocean at the End of the Lane more. One problem for me in this novel was that I could not connect with the characters, especially with Shadow. This was probably due to the way the character was constructed, breathing but not really alive, as Laura told him.

I will leave you with a quote that touched me deeply as it is so true, especially today when we experience so much tragedy around us.

“There are stories that are true, in which each individual's tale is unique and tragic, and the worst of the tragedy is that we have heard it before, and we cannot allow ourselves to feel it too deeply. We build a shell around it like an oyster dealing with a painful particle of grit, coating it with smooth pearl layers in order to cope. This is how we walk and talk and function, day in, day out, immune to others' pain and loss. If it were to touch us it would cripple us or make saints of us; but, for the most part, it does not touch us. We cannot allow it to.” ...more
3

Jul 07, 2010

A man was swallowed by a woman's vagina - so my mom wrote me a note and now I don't have to review this book anymore.
3

Jul 30, 2017

"Many things prove to me that the gods take part in the affairs of man." - Herodotus

In Gaiman’s story, the converse is equally true: the very existence of the gods depends on the affairs of mankind, specifically, that people believe in them. Like mortals, they need to be loved.

Gods from cultures around the world travelled to the US in the minds of immigrants. The indigenous people already had their own gods, and now (2001) there are new gods as well: internet, capitalism, media etc. In a "Many things prove to me that the gods take part in the affairs of man." - Herodotus

In Gaiman’s story, the converse is equally true: the very existence of the gods depends on the affairs of mankind, specifically, that people believe in them. Like mortals, they need to be loved.

Gods from cultures around the world travelled to the US in the minds of immigrants. The indigenous people already had their own gods, and now (2001) there are new gods as well: internet, capitalism, media etc. In a material, synaptic, digital world, the immaterial, synoptic, analog beings struggle to survive.

This fantastic concept is wrapped up in a disorienting road trip through the wonders of small town USA. Shadow, a young man recently released from prison, is taken on as driver and assistant for the mysterious Wednesday. They go to places on the cusp of the corporeal world, where they meet strange characters with stranger histories, as a growing sense of something ominous looms. Towards the end, there’s a series of forked paths, difficult choices: “Hard truths” or “fine lies”? Be wise, whole, or dead?

It blurs dreams and reality; gods and mortals; the living, the dead, and the inbetween. The main narrative is interspersed with chapters about historical settlers and the gods they brought. The second half is infused with ideas about identity, faith, mortality, and reality. But overall, I was slightly disappointed – though 3* isn’t bad.

Identity

“Nobody’s American… not originally.”
“Lady Liberty… like so many of the gods that Americans hold dear, a foreigner.”
“This is the only country in the world… that worries about what it is.”

Gaiman is a Brit who has lived in the US for many years. Britain is often portrayed as a nation of eccentrics, and Gaiman is drawn to the eccentricities of his new homeland. In an interview at the back, he says the chief difference between England and the US is that “England has history and America has geography”, but his story credits the US with both.

He fondly caricatures the bizarre and often anticlimactic roadside attractions, built at mystical sites where previous civilisations would have built stone circles or temples, and he paints the idyllic town of Lakeside with hues of Stepford and Twin Peaks. He points out that the signs for small towns always state the population and usually have an obscure claim to fame, often sport-related, such as the town’s Under 14s team was the third runner-up in the interstate Hundred-Yard Sprint.

Road Trip

A couple of weeks after reading this, we did an eclipse road trip in the US (which I blogged, with photos, in a GR review HERE). I looked out for strange signs: the printed (the smallest population I’ve seen previously is 79), the primordial, supernatural kind - and roadside attractions. On the crest of a hill in the Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, you can spot Stonehenge. It's a supposedly full-scale model (it's between half and 2/3), built as a memorial to US troops who died in WW1. The idea came from a man who visited the original at a time when it was thought to have been used for pagan human sacrifice. WW1 was a different, more worthy, type of human sacrifice.





https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maryhil...

Dead or Alive?

“Call no man happy until he’s dead.” - Herodotus
But as Shadow points out, that doesn't mean the dead are happy, but rather, that “you can’t judge the shape of someone’s life until it’s over and done”.

Gods abound, from a variety of times and places, including Norse, Ancient Egyptian, Hindu, central African, Asian, Irish, and central European. But the monotheistic God of the Abrahamic traditions does not feature. Not directly. There are strong parallels with the New Testament, though.

“There’s power in the sacrifice of a son.”
“Belief without blood only takes us so far… In the god business… it’s not the death that matters. It’s the opportunity for resurrection.”
And the goddess, Easter, has a central role.

“You’re not dead… but I’m not sure that you’re alive, either.”
“Now, dying on the tree, [x] was utterly alive.”

This idea of the living not being fully alive is also a recurring theme, but in a very different, non-spiritual sense, in The Book of Ebenezer Le Page, which I recently reviewed HERE.

“You people talk about the living and the dead as if they were mutually exclusive… As if you cannot have a river that is also a road, or a song that is also a color… Life and death are two sides of the same coin.”

Stories, Islands, and Pearls

“Lives are snowflakes - unique in detail, forming patterns we have seen before, but as like one another as peas in a pod”- which, of course, are not very alike when you really look.
“We need individual stories… the statistics become people.”

Like most writers of fantasy, Gaiman venerates the power of stories: ancient myths, but also the quotidian lives of ordinary folk. That’s the driving force here, and the life force for the gods. I guess it’s also the driving force of my reading, reviewing, and inner life.

It’s also why people respond to the recent tragic story of an individual like Charlie Gard, while ignoring larger scale tragedies, even if the latter are more solvable than the former. It’s not mere hypocrisy, but a specific sort of compassion fatigue, as Brian Resnick explains HERE. Anecdote isn’t evidence, but it is a powerful force.

But mostly, we prefer to protect ourselves from true but tragic stories. Gaiman claims Donne was wrong: we are islands, and therefore “we are insulated... from the tragedy of others, by our island nature, and by the repetitive shape and form of the stories”. Thus “we build a shell around it like an oyster dealing with a painful particle of grit... This is how we walk and talk and function... immune to others' pain and loss.”

Perhaps this passage subconsciously prompted me to read Steinbeck’s The Pearl (which I reviewed HERE) immediately after this, though I only noticed the connection when writing this review - days after writing up The Pearl.

Personally, I think Donne and Gaiman both have pearls of truth: we are islands, but we have bridges and rescue boats at our disposal. We are connected if we care and dare to venture on the seas to those we love.

Quotes

* “To be a god... means you give up your mortal existence to become a meme: something that lives forever in people's minds... You barely have your own identity any more. Instead, you're a thousand aspects of what people need you to be... Nothing is fixed, nothing is stable.”

* “His smiles were strange things… They contained no shred of humor, no happiness, no mirth… Like he had learned to smile from a manual.”

* “Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end.”

* “Chicago happened slowly, like a migraine.”

* “The moonlight drained colors into ghosts of themselves.”

* “Eyes, the dangerous blue of a sky when a storm is coming.”

* “American history… is fictional, a charcoal-sketched simplicity for the children, or the easily bored… The American colonies were was much a dumping ground as an escape.”

* “Like banana peel, only with bad taste and irony thrown in.” (A condom on the sidewalk.)

* “It’s easier to kill people when you’re dead yourself… You're Not prejudiced any more.”

* “Ice sheathed the winter-black bushes and trees as if they’d been insulated, made into dreams.”

* “It smelled of people who had gone away to live other lives, and of all they had eaten and dreamed.”

* “His anger seemed to have dissipated, or perhaps to have been invested for the future.”

* “There were stars overhead hanging like frozen spears of light, stabbing the night sky.”

* “Kansas was the cheerless gray of lonesome clouds, empty windows, and lost hearts.”

* “People gamble to lose money. It’s a sacrifice of sorts.” Coin tricks rely on cupidity and greed, thus, it’s harder to scam an honest man.

* “Since her death, Laura had not thought in metaphors; things were or they were not.”

* “All your questions can be answered, if that is what you want. But once you learn your answers you can never unlearn them.”

* “No longer scared of what tomorrow might bring because yesterday had brought it.”

* “Not only are there no happy endings… There aren’t even any endings.”


Flaws

This was my first encounter with a proper Gaiman novel. I loved his collaboration with Terry Pratchett, Good Omens (which I reviewed HERE), and his children’s novella, Coraline (which I reviewed HERE). In comparison, I felt this was lacking:

* It was too long before anything obviously significant happens, or there are meaty ideas. The first half was both vague and detailed, thus confusing. But after that, as the strands came together, I started to appreciate it more. It needed to be shorter and taughter, imo.
* Misdirection, especially coin tricks, is an entertaining constant. I thought following the coins would be key. They mattered, but the plot is disappointingly straightforward. There’s a huge cast, but few big surprises.
* A detailed confession being accidentally overheard near the end is an easy cliché.
* It's like Good Omens without the jokes.
* The whole premise is that the gods will perish unless people believe in them, but:
** If the gods travelled to the US, presumably versions stayed behind, so why is their survival in the US so crucial?
** Towards the end, there is a neat exception: “It doesn’t matter that you didn’t believe in us… We believed in you.”

With hindsight (and discussion in comments on other people's reviews), I realise I probably didn't pay enough attention to some of the historical chapters of people and gods coming to America, in part because I was frustrated with the vagueness of the first half. It's slightly like Atwood's The Blind Assassin (which I reviewed HERE): with that, I was too focused on the main narrative, so didn't give quite enough attention and admiration to the fictional story within the overall fiction.
. ...more
3

Mar 13, 2013


إن كنت مهتما بالأساطير والخرافات والأديان القديمة
والروايات الحديثة السريعة الإيقاع
فإنك ستحب هذه الرواية


"If you are to survive, you must believe."
"Believe what?" asked Shadow. "What should I believe?"
He stared at Shadow, the buffalo man, and he drew himself up huge, and his eyes filled with fire. He opened his spit-flecked buffalo mouth and it was red inside with the flames that burned inside him, under the earth.
"Everything," roared the buffalo man!


::::::::::::::

هي ملحمة خرافية عن الآلهة ‎
إن كنت مهتما بالأساطير والخرافات والأديان القديمة
والروايات الحديثة السريعة الإيقاع ‏
فإنك ستحب هذه الرواية


"If you are to survive, you must believe."
‎"Believe what?" asked Shadow. "What should ‎I believe?"
He stared at Shadow, the buffalo man, and he ‎drew himself up huge, and his eyes filled with fire. ‎He opened his spit-flecked buffalo mouth and it ‎was red inside with the flames that burned inside him, ‎under the earth.
‎"Everything," roared the buffalo man!


::::::::::::::

هي ملحمة خرافية عن الآلهة الذين يعيشون بيننا متنكرين على الأرض‏
ولكنها ملحمة جد عصرية
ملائمة تماما لأن تكون أمريكية

وهؤلاء الآلهة أشبه ما يكونوا بأبطال خارقين
منهم من حالفه الحظ وصار قوي مهاب
ومنهم من يعيش في الظل
ومنهم من يعيش على أمجاد ماضية لم يبق له منها سوى ذكرياتها‏
ومنهم من صار نسيا منسيا

ولكنهم الآن مواجهون بطائفة من الآلهة الجدد
وعليهم دحضهم والقضاء عليهم
وإلا فما سيحدث لن يحمد عقباه

::::::::::::::

الفانتازيا تكاد تطلق عليها فانتازيا سوداء
فهي مصحوبة بالرعب في هذه الرواية

فالجثث تتحرك وتتكلم ‏
ولها دور هام في الأحداث
والنساء يتحولن قططا

وكثير كثيييير من الغرائبيات



::::::::::::::

الكاتب يعتمد في القص هنا على الرؤى والأحلام بشكل مكثف
وهي باكتمالها
لن تستطيع إلا أن تحب شادو
ضخم الجثة..طيب القلب..كسير الفؤاد
رجل الظل
والبطل الخفي
صاحب ردود الأفعال غير المتوقعة
فهو رجل ماتت المرأة التي أحب
واكتشف خيانتها مع صديقه المقرب
ودخل السجن وخرج منه
ولم يعد يبق له سوى خيالات وجثث وماضٍ موجع
ورغم ذلك تصاحبه زوجته الميتة ‏
جثة متحللة وعفريتا من نوع خاص

::::::::::::::

ربما لو كانت الرواية أقصر قليلا لحازت على نجمة أخرى‏
ولكن طولها أمللني في بعض الأوقات‏

::::::::::::::

يضيعك جاميان بين متاهاته
يحرضك على اطلاق خيالك لأبعد مدى

وأبدا لن تنتهي القصة كما تتوقع

When the people came to America they ‎brought us with
them. They brought me and Loki and Thor, ‎Anansi and the Lion-God, Leprechauns and Cluracans and ‎Banshees, Kubera and Frau Holle and Ashtaroth, and they ‎brought you.‎

We rode here in their minds, and we took root. ‎We traveled
with the settlers to the new lands across the ‎ocean.
‎"The land is vast. Soon enough, our people ‎abandoned us, remembered us only as creatures of the ‎old land, as things that had not come with them to the ‎new. Our true believers passed on, or stopped believing, and ‎we were left, lost and scared and dispossessed, to get ‎by on what little smidgens of worship or belief we could ‎find...
...more
4

Feb 07, 2012

a protagonist, Shadow. calm, collected, quiet, passive, cagey, a tough guy and a sensitive guy. his life has been about reacting and not impacting. he moves through his story as if through a dream; tragedies and betrayals and mysteries and confidence games, the beginnings and endings of hope and love and life - all viewed as if through water, as if these terrible wonders were happening to someone else. he could be nothing more than a pawn in life - let alone a pawn of the gods - but yet his a protagonist, Shadow. calm, collected, quiet, passive, cagey, a tough guy and a sensitive guy. his life has been about reacting and not impacting. he moves through his story as if through a dream; tragedies and betrayals and mysteries and confidence games, the beginnings and endings of hope and love and life - all viewed as if through water, as if these terrible wonders were happening to someone else. he could be nothing more than a pawn in life - let alone a pawn of the gods - but yet his passivity is combined with an inner strength, a gentle kindness, an innate decency. his decency is more than a trait - it defines him. and when he does decide to act, his actions become another one of this novel's terrible wonders. he is complex and completely appealing. one of my my favorite heroes in modern fiction.

a wife, Laura. dead before the novel begins. a living ghost, a revenant; aided by a magical coin. a sad and appalling and dreamlike journey. a terrific payoff.

a Road Trip, full of kitchen-sink reality, full of terrible wonder.

an old guard, the Old Gods. Odin, Anansi, Czernobog, Anubis and Thoth and Bast and Horus, Eostre, Kali, the Norns. the Queen of Sheba - strangely, now an Old God. their transformation into prosaic american emigres - confidence men and tenement dwellers and whores and jailhouse cellmates - is both a fun game of mystery-solving (guess the god!) and a rather sad parallel to how the world of the not-aged pushes the aged into their little corners, out of sight and out of mind, into a world of irrelevance. and yet the old gods are not portrayed with cloying sweetness - there is no filter of nostalgia or hints of some long-lost, longed-for Olden Way to make us love them. they are fascinating, powerful, often monstrous, entirely without easy sentiment.

a new guard, the New Gods. Technology, the Media, the Vehicle, the Men in Black. it's easy to put them all automatically in a nice little box labeled The Villains. but that's too simple; too instantly gratifying. the novel's portrait of these potentially repellent figures is one painted in broad strokes, lacking subtlety - but it is also a fair one... they sound and act like villains, and yet they are not. how can they be? we worship them on a daily basis. they are only evil if we consider our modern age an evil one.

a creepy subsidiary villain: a Kobold. he lives in a portrait of classic americana that miraculously manages to be free of condescension.

a Confidence Game, long-game style, played by two gods, with our hero as their catspaw. cleverly done by the gods. beautifully overturned by our hero. brilliantly pulled off by the author.

an author, Neil Gaiman. i'll admit that i have well-stocked reserves of love for the man, ready and willing to be accessed. his Sandman series is my favorite comic book, full of crazy imagination and complex mysteries and creepy villains and complicated heroes and terrible, wonderful journeys. so i was prepared to love this book as i love its author, to draw upon that deep well of affection. there were connecting factors that helped to ease my transition from dealing with my old god of awesome comics to this new literary god of popular fantasy fiction; namely his interest in unearthing and revitalizing the world's myths and legends - an ongoing Gaiman leitmotif. i was less prepared to discover that Gaiman is an actual writer! his prose is fluid, nuanced, supple, at ease with both constant ambiguity and you-are-there, detailed realism. both grounded and hallucinatory. the narrative is anchored by everyday reality as well as a strange lack of affect - a blankness of tone that is a good fit for a phantasmagorical road trip. and then it is capable of sudden, surreal flights of visionary madness, a grey-toned package that becomes a conjurer's box of magic. and then that tricksy legerdemain can just as quickly transform back into a soulful and emotionally honest portrait of one man's journey through various adventures, through his own life, to the end of it and back again. who could ask for more?

...more
4

Jun 05, 2007

Update: Re-read for the first time in years to prep for reviewing the tv show. So excited!!! I'm recapping for B&N, I'll be putting links up on my profile periodically to the recaps.

Overall, this is a harder book than I remembered. So much harder (as in, harder-edged) and more thoughtful than I remember, both. It's not as twisty/turny surprise-y as it was when I read it last time, but it more than makes up for it with the new thematic things I have the headspace to think about. There's so Update: Re-read for the first time in years to prep for reviewing the tv show. So excited!!! I'm recapping for B&N, I'll be putting links up on my profile periodically to the recaps.

Overall, this is a harder book than I remembered. So much harder (as in, harder-edged) and more thoughtful than I remember, both. It's not as twisty/turny surprise-y as it was when I read it last time, but it more than makes up for it with the new thematic things I have the headspace to think about. There's so much here to play with and I'm hoping they use as much of it as possible.
***
Original: Here's my new review of this, up on the B&N fantasy blog: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/blog/sc...

Yay!! ...more

Best Books from your Favorite Authors & Publishers

compare-icon compare-icon
Thousands of books

Take your time and choose the perfect book.

review-icon review-icon
Read Reviews

Read ratings and reviews to make sure you are on the right path.

vendor-icon vendor-icon
Multiple Stores

Check price from multiple stores for a better shopping experience.

gift-icon

Enjoy Result