American Gods

Posted by on Wednesday, February 20th, 2008

American Gods by Neil Gaiman.

Look kids–I still read!  I know it’s been a while since I’ve reminded you of that.  Thinking about audio book reviews has messed with my regular paper book review thoughts a bit.

Right, so, my wonderful friend and co-blogger Jeanne has been recommending this book to me for years.  Years.  Over the last year or two I’ve been going out of my way to listen to my brilliant friends and family when they ask me to read a book.  Because they are brilliant, see, and they’re not trying to play tricks on me when they recommend books.  As evidenced by Cryptonomicon, and His Dark Materials, and this book, and god knows how many other fantastic books I learned about through smart people I knew.

Gaiman is pretty clearly a mythology buff, so I was intrigued from the start.  I don’t want to give much away, because this is certainly a plot-driven work, but the story revolves around a newly-released convict who gets wrapped up in some very strange work for a mysterious stranger who calls himself Mr. Wednesday.   That’s a clue I wish had been more oblique, but it might not be so obvious to all readers.  As the novel progresses, we learn about Shadow, his parents, his wife, human belief, and on and on.

I think the real genius of the book is displayed by how Gaiman blends and borrows from so many mythos and wraps them all up in a modern package.  There are a few things I wish the author had done differently–I don’t really need the “my woman ruined my life” trope anymore, thankyouverymuch.
So it’s not a perfect book, but it’s a very fun read, and it certainly strikes some lovely notes for myth-buffs like me.

Filed in Books | 8 responses so far

8 Responses to “American Gods”

  1. --Debon 20 Feb 2008 at 10:34 pm 1

    It’s been a few years since I read it, but I liked that book–though for some, unremembered reason, I wasn’t crazy about the ending, which is why I haven’t felt compelled to reread it. I just can’t remember WHY (grin). But still, I remember it as a good book, and that’s something!

  2. minnieon 20 Feb 2008 at 11:04 pm 2

    i can always count on you for good book recommendations! thanks! it’s in my library queue (29th, but still)

  3. gayleon 21 Feb 2008 at 12:23 pm 3

    I just read “American Gods” last month, and liked it very much – though I read “Neverwhere” and “Stardust” just before it, both of which I liked even better. (And “Good Omens” immediately before that, which I liked best of all, but then, I’m a big Terry Pratchett fan…)
    I’ve added the Pullman books to my read-next list, on your recommendation. Now if only I could remember to take the list with me when I go to the library.
    I followed your link to “Cryptonomicon” and saw your plot quibble. It isn’t a plot hole – the explanation lies in his “The Baroque Cycle” trilogy. Though admittedly, that’s a long read in order to answer a small question.
    And, though I’ve read “Crytonomicon” several times, “Snow Crash” is far-and-away my favorite book of Stephenson’s, quite possibly my favorite book ever.
    Have you read any of Lois McMaster Bujold’s books? Both her sci-fi novels and fantasy novels are very very good.
    Looking forward to the Pullman. Thanks!

  4. Aeson 22 Feb 2008 at 7:03 am 4

    I liked American Gods very much, but loved Anansi Boys (which is not a sequel, but rather has a character in common). I also happen to be in possession of Marduke’s audio book copy, read by Lenny Henry, who is one of Gaiman’s best friends – the book was written to be read in his voice. Please borrow this from me & Marduke (who doesn’t actually know I have it, but that’s what he gets for not reading your blog) and absorb it as soon as possible. Soooo yummy!

  5. Aeson 22 Feb 2008 at 7:11 am 5

    Oh, I forgot – also, as a celebration of the 7th year of Neil Gaiman’s blog, Harper Collins will be offering American Gods free on its web site for a month or so. It’s not there yet, but check Gaiman’s blog for details (it’s a fun read, anyway).

  6. CrystalJeanon 22 Feb 2008 at 4:26 pm 6

    I saw this post through ravelry, and I had to comment. You see, House on the Rock is one of my favorite places. And Gaiman does a good job describing it in this book – but it is even weirder than his impression. It is the perfect setting for the climax of his story. Have you ever been to House on the Rock in Spring Green Wisconsin?

    I could talk about how wonderful the mythology mixing is, and go on and on about this book – but my absolute favorite part of the book is the inclusion of House on the Rock. And I’m not sure this is to be understood without having gone there.

  7. megon 25 Feb 2008 at 1:23 am 7

    I got this book on tape a few years ago when my dad and I were driving from Chicago to Pittsburgh together. We were both enjoying it until the second or third chapter – the really graphic one – whereupon the silence in the car became deafening as I kept telling myself, “I am an adult, I am an adult, I am not hitting the eject button because Neil Gaiman wrote a sex scene that I am listening to with my FATHER!” Meanwhile, the chapter kept going on and on – for, like, 79 pages, as far as I could. Finally it ended, and my dad looked at me, looked at the tape player and said, “Hey, isn’t it time for a Prairie Home Companion?” I lived in fear of the rest of that damn book … loved it, though.

  8. MsDivaon 26 Jun 2008 at 4:10 pm 8

    Someone suggested this book a few years ago. I didn’t get past the first chapter. I will try it again. I have made two of your sock bags (two different sizes) and I love them. I will get pictures on Ravelry soon. Thanks for the directions.

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