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American Gods Hardcover – June 19, 2001
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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
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Top Customer Reviews
What I would like to address is which edition you should purchase. If you already own American Gods then there is almost nothing new to be found here. There is just a small amount of new content. You should at least read his introduction to this edition. So if you have never purchased this book before then this is the best looking and most complete version available.
Bottom line is don't double dip but if this is your first copy you owe it to yourself to get this edition.
Mr. Wednesday, trickster and wise man, is on a quest. The old gods who came over to this country with each human incursion have weakened as their followers have dwindled and are now threatened with extinction by the modern gods of technology and marketing. Wednesday travels from deity to deity, rounding up help for what will be last battle. He engages ancient Russian gods, Norse legends, Egyptian deities, and countless others who have found their way to America in the past 10,000 or so years. Shadow never quite understands what his role is in all of this, but he experiences visions and dreams which promise that he is far more than Wednesday's factotum.
The plot is unendingly inventive as it treks its way across the country. From Chicago to Rhode Island, and Seattle to the magical town of Lakeside, Shadow's journey seems to follow the back roads of America. The people he meets are gritty, and the gods are even grittier. Gaiman creates believable characters with quick brush strokes and builds vivid landscapes that belie their mundane origins. Gaiman, recently moved to the U.S. has invited us along on his own quest to discover an America uniquely his own.
This is a novel that resonates at many levels, it is Shadow's initiation quest, Gaiman's search for the American identity, a revisionist Twilight of the Gods, and last, but not least a captivating piece of fiction. The gods that people this story came with people who found their way to this country from almost every time and place. Gaiman has put his finger on once of this country's greatest truths. Every person who ever lived here has roots from somewhere else. We have crossed oceans and land bridges, on foot, and by every other means of transportation. Our culture has been created whole cloth out of the character and beliefs of all those people. Gaiman has managed to capture a bit of that vision and put it on display for the reader.
After his superb work in "Neverwhere," "Stardust," and the Sandman graphic novels, Neil Gaimon has established himself a force to be reckoned with in the crossover horror/fantasy genre. Now with his new novel Gaiman establishes his mastery in a remarkable story of quest and transformation as he comes to terms with his own vision of America. "American Gods" defies classification and invites superlatives. This is one of 2001's must reads.
The problem is that I was expecting an epic. The book's subject matter, length, awards, and reviews all scream epic. I was expecting something deep, meaningful, and memorable. Gaiman's writing talent teased me nearly all the way through that this was indeed what I was reading, yet it never quite delivered. Instead of a memorable epic, what I finally discovered in American Gods was a well-written and enjoyable pulp novel that felt much closer to a particularly well done Stephen King story than it did to an important mythological epic.
I did enjoy reading American Gods. Neil Gaiman is a talented writer, and if you are a fan, you will probably want to read it as well. But be warned to limit your expectations. Despite its length and hype, this book is not an epic, mythic or otherwise. File this one on your bookshelf beside King's The Stand rather than putting it beside Tolkien, Joseph Campbell, or Jung.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Author: Neil Gaiman
Age Group: Adult
Series: N/A, standalone
Star Rating: 5 out of 5...Read more
I would say that this is an enjoyable book it's like a Percy...Read more