American Gods (American Gods, #1)

Neil Gaiman
After three years in prison, Shadow has done his time. But as the time until his release ticks away, he can feel a storm brewing. Two days before he gets out, his wife Laura dies in a mysterious car crash, in adulterous circumstances. Dazed, Shadow travels home, only to encounter the bizarre Mr Wednesday claiming to be a refugee from a distant war, a former god and the king of America. Together, they embark on a very strange journey across the States, along the way solving the murders which have occurred every winter in one small American town. But the storm is about to break...Disturbing, gripping and profoundly strange, Gaiman's epic new novel sees him on the road to the heart of America. It includes extra material exclusive to "Headline Review's" edition.

Reviews

Reviewed: 2017-10-11
I loved this book. First of all, Gaiman is a fantastic writer. He can really spin a story that keeps you interested, and his writing style is vivid, with amazing imagery. Secondly, this was just a fantastic story. Interesting, creative, unique. Loved it!
Reviewed: 2017-05-21

http://literally.scribd.com/home/2017/4/28/becoming-well-read-american-gods

I definitely think Neil Gaiman did NOT need to add back the 12k words he removed to make the "preferred" addition. The beginning was the best part. The middle/end was kind of a slog. But still very interesting.

Overall: Katniss Everdeen is still my god.

Reviewed: 2016-07-30
Did not finish this book. probably made a mistake getting the 'author's preferred text' which I feel is just self-indulgence. This book rambled, it included uninteresting and fruitless side tracks and it felt like it was trying much too hard. I get the feeling that maybe the editor's excellent advice was completely ignored by Gaiman.
Reviewed: 2016-01-30

An entertaining epic homage to faith/belief in transition (i.e. in "coming to America", globalization, transformation of old gods into new) - a sort of marriage of Vonnegut-ian whimsical wit & Irving-inian* irreverent satire. 

(*Irving when he was still brilliant, a la Owen Meany Garp , not today's Irving of Widow lameness)

But - not my favorite Gaiman by far. Having only recently climbed the Gaiman wagon, I'm glad in retrospect I began with Neverwhere , which is basically the most brilliant exploration of the question "Is this all there is?" that I've ever read manifested as fiction. And that I continued my journey with The Ocean at the End of the Lane , yet another mindblowing take on the illusory quality of adulthood, the clarity of childhood, the truth of age/memory/time. 

Next to these two works American Gods seems almost... ordinary. Well, perhaps not quite ordinary (this is Gaiman, after all, and he's still just as brilliant as always) - but definitely less creative, less magical. And it's because the satirical take on some aspect of modern society (and religion to boot- how cliche) - has been done, again and again. What Gaiman did best (and most uniquely imho) in the previously mentioned works is he didn't dwell on sociological/anthropological analyses of social problems, but dived deep into the psyche of his characters in a way that illuminated aspects of humanity and our experience of lived life.

American Gods, in other words, tells the story from the point of view of "the gods": top down, in which each individual serves her purpose, acts and reacts in/to history and thus makes tiny dents in the fabric of the totality of reality. Neverwhere, on the other hand, was a view from the cage of the restless, seeking ego: a perspective I think that is much harder to capture, and that few authors do well (and those who do, don't usually write in this genre, not even close. Think Mario Vargas Llosa or Toni Morrison).

All that said, the writing and setting are still "classic" Gaiman: a world of boundless possibilities mingling seamlessly with our own & the storytelling of a master folklorist. Still a big YES! for me!
 

Reviewed: 2015-10-31
I listened to this on audio, and it was fantastic.

The gist of this book is that when folks immigrated to the US, they brought their gods along with them. Then, as these immigrants assimilated into the American culture, their gods were abandoned. These gods, finding themselves unemployed, had to find jobs.

It's a great book, especially for those of us who worship no gods. It made me think, and it made me laugh. I really felt for Shadow, the protagonist of the story.

In many ways, this made me think of a Ingmar Bergman's writings. It'd make an awesome movie.
Gritty and in your face. Highly recommend it.
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