2007: 146.  American Gods

“Shadow had done three years in prison.  He was big enough and looked don’t-fuck-with-me-enough that his biggest problem was killing time.”

American Gods, Neil Gaiman

Something made me noodle along the internet to Neil Gaiman’s blog, and after doing so, and remembering how interesting and charming he is, and how creative and different his writing is, I was overcome with the desire to re-read one of his books.  I only have American Gods and Neverwhere, and American Gods is better, so here we are.*  

American Gods tells the story of Shadow, who on his release from prison finds that his wife (his lifeline when he was in) is dead.  He is offered a job by a mysterious man named Wednesday, and after a series of disturbing encounters, takes it.  The tracks Shadow’s odd journey, where it quickly becomes apparent that Wednesday is Odin (or the American version of Odin - the book posits that when Gods come over here they mutate and become American versions of themselves), and that a war is taking place between the old Gods - Odin, Bast, Horace et al, and the new Gods (internet, media, television and such).  It makes for a clever and twisty tale that also hits at some of the archetypes of what it means to be American.  Very cool.  I like the book even better on re-read, too - knowing what was going on (well, sort of - a lot of the plot had drifted out of my mind) made me enjoy the hints along the way.  Michael Chabon called the book “Dark fun, and nourishing to the soul” and I agree entirely.

Recommended for:  People who’ve read Gaiman’s other works (like The Sandman) and want to see what he can do with the novel form (this novel is years ahead of Neverwhere  in its literary skill, I think); people who haven’t read much fantastical fiction, and want to read something by a fantasy master; people who don’t usually take novels with a fantastic element that seriously.

*After writing this, I remembered that I also have Coraline.  Also a fun read. 

Date/Place Completed: 9/15/07; Poughkeepsie, NY

Categories:  Fiction; Re-read

© Carrie Dunsmore 2017