This is my first ever Neil Gaiman book. I read his short storyHow to Talk to Girls at Parties and as much as I enjoyed that story, it did not prepare me for the monster that is American Gods.
“You know,” he said, “I think I would rather be a man than a god. We don’t need anyone to believe in us. We just keep going anyhow. It’s what we do”
American Gods is difficult to explain. The story follows Shadow who is recently released from prison. He is serving out a six year sentence, but is let out after three years for good behavior. All shadow wants to do is go home to his wife Laura and rebuild his life; however, the day before his release he is informed of Laura’s death. Her death leaves Shadow dazed and confused which is how he finds himself accepting a job proposition from the mysterious Mr. Wednesday. Unsure of what he’s gotten himself into, Shadow agrees to do what ever Wednesday demands of him. The only thing Shadow really knows for sure, is that a storm is brewing and now he’s caught in the middle of it.
I think its best to go into this one with as little background as possible. That’s how I did it. I picked this up because I thought it was finally time I read some Gaiman. I am a huge fan of mythology and here we get bucket-loads of it, and not just the usual suspects like the Greek or Roman Gods. Gaiman touched on old African lore, Native American, Scandinavian, Indian etc. This even read like an epic poem, or a tragic heroic saga.
The novel is evenly paced giving just enough information to keep you intrigued. It wasn’t that the story was just enjoyable, but it was also so finely crafted. It had great attention to detail that my low attention span brain found easy to focus on, along with some gorgeous imagery. It had a healthy dose of humor. The most bizarre scenes were made so normal, and the writing had some very memorable quotes,
“So, yeah, my people figured that maybe there’s something at the back of it all, a creator, a great spirt, and so we say thank you to it, because it’s always good to say thank you. But we never built churches. We didn’t need to. The land was the church. The land was the religion. The land was older and wiser than the people who walked on it.”
"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 fooling a soul."
“He had known a man in prison who had been imprisoned for stealing library books”
So here I am finally on the Gaiman bandwagon. From what I’ve gathered, Gaiman wrote this book to pay tribute to America and its vastness and its multi-culutral melting pot, and I believe he succeeded.
Overall a fantastic read.