Monday, January 21, 2008

American Gods

This weekend, I found myself with four days off, and plenty of time to read!! I was so excited to finish Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards - until I realized that I had left it at work. Go figure.

So, I looked through my TBR pile and came up with American Gods by Neil Gaiman. This one has actually been on my pile for a long time. I keep meaning to pick up a Neil Gaiman book because I've heard he is the man, and I heard American Gods was one of his best works. He did not disappoint. This book was AMAZING. I read it - all 592 pages of it - in two sittings. Here is a review from Amazon, where American Gods made Amazon's Best of 2001 list:

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. Gaiman tackles everything from the onslaught of the information age to the meaning of death, but he doesn't sacrifice the razor-sharp plotting and narrative style he's been delivering since his Sandman days.

Shadow gets out of prison early when his wife is killed in a car crash. At a loss, he takes up with a mysterious character called Wednesday, who is much more than he appears. In fact, Wednesday is an old god, once known as Odin the All-father, who is roaming America rounding up his forgotten fellows in preparation for an epic battle against the upstart deities of the Internet, credit cards, television, and all that is wired. Shadow agrees to help Wednesday, and they whirl through a psycho-spiritual storm that becomes all too real in its manifestations. For instance, Shadow's dead wife Laura keeps showing up, and not just as a ghost--the difficulty of their continuing relationship is by turns grim and darkly funny, just like the rest of the book.

Armed only with some coin tricks and a sense of purpose, Shadow travels through, around, and underneath the visible surface of things, digging up all the powerful myths Americans brought with them in their journeys to this land as well as the ones that were already here. Shadow's road story is the heart of the novel, and it's here that Gaiman offers up the details that make this such a cinematic book--the distinctly American foods and diversions, the bizarre roadside attractions, the decrepit gods reduced to shell games and prostitution. "This is a bad land for Gods," says Shadow.

More than a tourist in America, but not a native, Neil Gaiman offers an outside-in and inside-out perspective on the soul and spirituality of the country--our obsessions with money and power, our jumbled religious heritage and its societal outcomes, and the millennial decisions we face about what's real and what's not. --Therese Littleton

YAY! Now I have 2 books on my 2008 Book List!!

1 comment:

Leslie said...

Yes, American Gods is awesome. If you ever feel up to reading graphic novels, try The Sandman series. It is in-freaking-credible.