American Gods Mass Market Paperback – Apr 30 2002
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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 --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Titans clash, but with more fuss than fury in this fantasy demi-epic from the author of Neverwhere. The intriguing premise of Gaiman's tale is that the gods of European yore, who came to North America with their immigrant believers, are squaring off for a rumble with new indigenous deities: "gods of credit card and freeway, of Internet and telephone, of radio and hospital and television, gods of plastic and of beeper and of neon." They all walk around in mufti, disguised as ordinary people, which causes no end of trouble for 32-year-old protagonist Shadow Moon, who can't turn around without bumping into a minor divinity. Released from prison the day after his beloved wife dies in a car accident, Shadow takes a job as emissary for Mr. Wednesday, avatar of the Norse god Grimnir, unaware that his boss's recruiting trip across the American heartland will subject him to repeat visits from the reanimated corpse of his dead wife and brutal roughing up by the goons of Wednesday's adversary, Mr. World. At last Shadow must reevaluate his own deeply held beliefs in order to determine his crucial role in the final showdown. Gaiman tries to keep the magical and the mundane evenly balanced, but he is clearly more interested in the activities of his human protagonists: Shadow's poignant personal moments and the tale's affectionate slices of smalltown life are much better developed than the aimless plot, which bounces Shadow from one episodic encounter to another in a design only the gods seem to know. Mere mortal readers will enjoy the tale's wit, but puzzle over its strained mythopoeia. (One-day laydown, June 19)Forecast: Even when he isn't in top form, Gaiman, creator of the acclaimed Sandman comics series, trumps many storytellers. Momentously titled, and allotted a dramatic one-day laydown with a 12-city author tour, his latest will appeal to fans and attract mainstream review coverage for better or for worse because of the rich possibilities of its premise.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Hardcover edition. See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Similar thematic territory was covered, with much more panache and verve, by Douglas Adams ("The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul") and by Neil's "Good Omens" writing partner, Terry Pratchett ("Small Gods"). Both books took a sidelong glance at the subject of modern deities and found an awful lot of humour there. Gaiman treats his subject with solemnity, and to my mind this is one of the reasons why the book suffers.
Fortunately, the story begins with a dramatic bang. Gaiman sets up his characters well, and then proceeds to create the universe in which they will live. He never betrays the beginning, but at times he lets the narrative (or, to describe it more accurately, the loose assemblage of scenes) get away from him. "I feel like I'm in a world with its own sense of logic. It's own rules," Shadow notes at one point early on. "I'm just going along with it, you know?" This is true, and it begins as a wonderful creation in Gaiman's hands. But later Shadow becomes more frustrated with the direction his life has taken: "Nobody tells me what [the rules] are.Read more ›
Why was Shadow never surprised, shocked, or at all emotional in response to the numerous surreal circumstances he encountered? I never felt engaged me in the story... who the hell cares what happens to Shadow?
Recently released from prison, Shadow is enlisted by the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, presumably to assist in collecting gods who will stand together when the war begins. From that point on we visit so many places, we meet so many people and we are told so many tales of magic and mortality. We visit an old fair with out-of-tune mechanical instruments and spend time in an old European house filled with cooking smells of a different world. We meet Anansi at a fair, Ibis and Jacquel at a funeral home, and Easter at San Fransisco. We go back to 15,000 BC and see waves of immigration over the ages, including the heartbreaking Coming to America of black people. And we stay at the pretty town of Lakeside with its mysteriously disappearing children.
But these are all just elements of the story - not the story itself. The story is something that has to be experienced personally. I would highly recommend reading this book (and, in fact, everything by this author).
This is a story within a story. The small story is about Shadow who has just been released from prison only to find out his wife is dead. On his trip back home, he is approached by Wednesday with a job offer and their travels together begin. The bigger story is about the gods of humanity. For thousands of years we have believe in one God or another to the point that there have been hundreds or thousands of them. Many are not believed in or even remembered anymore but because they were believed into existence, they are still here. There are also many new Gods, Gods of the digital age. The new Gods want the old Gods gone and a war is brewing.
I'd like to say I loved this story. I really liked it a lot but there was just something about it that kept me from getting there. I can't even tell you what that thing was although I can see why this book is loved. On the flip side, I can even see why some don't like it. You have to be a bit of a dreamer yourself to appreciate it and not everyone is.
Most recent customer reviews
Gaiman 's style is so unique, but I'm hesitant to call it fantasy. It IS fantasy, after a fashion, but so much more too.Published 1 month ago by Jeremy Turowetz
Following Shadow through America was an amazing ride. His trials and tribulations relatable for the most part. It was a fun read.Published 1 month ago by John
I liked the intertwining of gods and their stories. The idea that gods would be aligned with one another against the markets and media and the internet was unique. Read morePublished 5 months ago by kaydub
Bought cheap to test out my iPad, what a fantastic read.Published 6 months ago by Andrew de Villiers