I am currently listening to this book while commuting and although it started off very well it has become very "draggy." I judge a book by how willing I am to shut it off and go in the house when I get home. I am having no problem doing this with this book. I am two-thirds of the way through and I will finish it but I am not enjoying it the way I thought I would from the great beginning. I hope it has a great finish because at this point I really don't see much of a plot.
The plot is there but it doesn't really get revealed until the last few pages. I think I should really reread and see if it makes more sense knowing how the book ends (which I won't reveal, you might have guessed already as there are some clues, but they're extremely subtle).
I too didn't have a hard time putting it down overall, but there were surprises at times. Of course as a non-American I may also lack the cultural insights that may be expected of the reader in places to really understand a subplot here and there.
I read this because I loved his first book, Neverwhere. I did enjoy it somewhat but often I had to force myself to pick it back up. Glad I did but it was hard to get through, and being American doesn't help you as much as an understanding of mythology would. :)
I think it might be true that you are more likely to engage with this novel if you have a strong background in literature, including mythology, but we are supposed to have that if we have a good American education. I just helped my son through high school English lit. He now has that background in mythology and received a lot of the multi-cultural background like Anansi and Cajun characters like Marie Leveau - in grade school - but it was a private school for bright children with ADD. Many people over a certain age (I'm 54))may not get much in the way of multi-cultural background and be missing a lot of clues. My son is graduating from an exceptional public school that only accepts 300 kids a year with a strong art or performance background and provides a tougher curriculum. Keep in mind that Gaiman isn't the product of an American education and what he writes about America is more like what Nabokov observed and wrote about. American Gods is a metaphor much like Lolita. Wednesday and Hubert Humbert were on a similar mission. I don't think you need to be American to "get it". You just need to have a sense of American cultural history and pop culture plus all that mythological and folk culture background. Try to understand how sad it is if you were cheated out of that in your education. If that is so, just read, read read until you get what was robbed from you. That said, I have to say that this book invaded my day when I stumbled upon it around evening and I was up until 4am until I passed out, reading at my computer. I got up the next day and didn't get to my work (I'm self-employed) until I had finished American Gods in mid-afternoon. MY QUESTION IS - is there actually more than one edited version of this book? An Amazon reviewer mentions that he thinks there should have been more of the side stories and that they only occur in about the first third of the book. What I just read had many stories and they ran through more than 2/3 of the book. I admit that my "book" is a pdf document that I stumbled upon during a search for something totally unrelated, but if I'm to buy a legal copy to satisfy my love of REAL books, I want to get the version that matches what I just read, not get cheated and stuck with an edited down version.
I absolutely agree with your first statement. I always loved mythology and I was waiting to see which gods/creatures Mr. Wednesday and Shadow would encounter on the way while I was waiting for all the intrigue and main plot points to unravel. I wanted to see which I knew and if those had the same characteristics/personalties that I imagined, and the ones I didn't know I looked up. I think it would be hard for someone with no actual interest in mythology to get into this book, because it's so long, but I recommend it to all my friends anyway. ^^;
This was the first Gaiman novel I read, and is still my favorite. I agree that it helps to be well-versed in mythology and American geography before reading, but I was fascinated by it, and didn't put it down the first time I read it. By now I've been through it another three or four times, and I find something new every time. I will say that some of my friends found the Lakeside sections to drag, but they were among my favorite parts of the novel.
it was extremely hard to put down. I ended up taking it to lunch and reading it (I have to read at my job for a half hour [not complaining just stating the fact]) I even took it to a work related convention and read it there during some free time.
It was hard to put down, but I left dissatisfied. I kept reading hoping for something more, but there was none. I liked the old gods and their many names, but at times it felt like he was just showing off his knowledge. I think this would have made a better short story.
Don't know if you'll see this because your original post was so long ago, but... thank you. Almost all of the criticism I've heard about this book is from folks who obviously have very little grounding in world or even American cultural history. My favorite is one poster who was outraged because the gods in this book "lie, cheat, steal, and capriciously kill". Hello? Obviously not even a passing familiarity with mythology - even good old Western Judeo-Christian mythology. I keep making the point to my kids that they really need to learn as much as they can about as wide an array of subjects as they can, since such learning is the key that unlocks the door of meaning in so many books and movies. The is a perfect example - people without any grounding in mythology just don't seem able to appreciate this book, which I consider a gem. Thanks again.