American Gods by Neil Gaiman

It is probably bad form to write two posts about the same author when I only have a handful of posts on this site.  What can I say?  I love Neil Gaiman and I haven’t felt inspired to write about much lately so if something grabs me, I figure I should go with it, no?

To say that Neil Gaiman is a story weaving genius is an understatement and I am certainly not alone in recognizing his brilliance.  I mean, the man wins all the awards.  Every time I read something by him I think THIS is the best thing he has ever written.  So, I don’t know if American Gods is the best thing he has ever written, but it is well worth a read.  Like so much of Gaiman’s work, it weaves the warp and weft of fantastic and ordinary to leave the reader wondering if perhaps the story is a dream or a memory or something in between.

There is a tv series coming soon (but not soon enough) based on this book.  It will air on Starz, which I do not pay for but I WILL find a way to watch it.  The cast looks amazing.  Crispin Glover is playing Mr. World.  If you don’t love Crispin Glover yet, please, please, please watch his interviews with David Letterman.  He is so crazy and so great.  I mean… drug addled or schizophrenic or something, but so so great and I would totally hit that a thousand times over.  just saying.   Gillian Anderson is playing the part of Media… I just can not wait for this show.  seriously.

So far all I have done is gushed, so let me say something at least a little substantive… In American Gods our protagonist is a man whose true name we don’t know (let’s call him Shadow). When we meet him Shadow is in prison, but is soon to be released and then ensnared in an adventure featuring gods of Norse, Hindu, and Egyptian myth as well as Leprechauns, Native American spirits and at least one reanimated corpse.  Our everyman’s mythic journey takes him to the underworld and across America with stops at sacred places masquerading as roadside attractions.  Shadow’s journey is one of death and rebirth betrayal and forgiveness, love and loss and love.  It is a beautiful story told beautifully.

It is clear that Gaiman researched his mythological subjects intensively, but he plays coy with us by not being too explicit about who is who or how they relate.  He believes in the reader’s ability to connect dots and seek out information elsewhere if they need it it.  You don’t need it, but it doesn’t hurt to have a passing familiarity with Norse and Egyptian mythology.  If you are a fan of the Avengers, you will know enough about the Norse gods to muddle through.  If you know more, you will catch things that I didn’t I am sure.

Next week I am taking my kids on a short getaway.  We do this every summer.  Just the three of us.  This year we are driving from Pittsburgh to Baltimore where we will catch an Oriole’s game, visit the aquarium, and have some other touristy fun.  On the way we are going to stop in Everett, PA to see the world’s largest quarter and grab a bite to eat at a shop shaped like a giant ice cream sundae.  While we are there, we will pay homage to whatever American Gods we may encounter.

 

I am keeping on ongoing list of all of the books I have read in 2016 here.  Always looking for suggestions!

 

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