When I came across your book American Gods 10th anniversary at the library shelf, I knew I had to read it.
I have heard so much about your books and how they topped the bestsellers lists for weeks. Over the years, your books have gathered a worldwide mass of cult followers.
Let me try to refresh my memory about the synopsis of the book:
“The book was about a guy called Shadow. Shadow has just been released from prison to find his wife and best friend dead in a car crash. There is nothing for Shadow now, no wife, no job, no life to look forward after prison. A direct flight to Indiana gets rerouted by a freak thunderstorm sending Shadow running to the far end of the airport to catch a last-second flight. Seated at last, still not even sure why he is travelling, a man next to Shadow turns around and says “You’re late; I’ve got a job for you.”
That’s how Shadow’s life travels from inside a prison cell to the edges of forgotten American, in the service of the mysterious Mr. Wednesday who’s got business with some gods, rivalries with others, and an endless stream of plots and schemes up his sleeve.”
Along the way Shadow met a lot of weird characters, as well as his dead wife ghost who came to his rescue when he is in danger. The novelty of the weirdness wears off after 100 pages and I began to read those weird encounters of Shadow and trying to find some sort of meaning behind the symbols. Trying to read in between the lines. In most part it was just one weird incident after another but I have loved the potential for mythology and the social commentary contained within the novel. Every chapter opens with a lovely quotes and those lovely interlude chapters about how many different ways of different tribes “Coming to America”. You weren’t afraid to comment on the big country’s insecurity and endless quest for money.
“This is the only country in the world,’ said Wednesday, into the stillness, ‘that worries about what it is.’
‘The rest of them know what they are. No one ever needs to go searching for the heart of Norway. Or looks for the soul of Mozambique. They know what they are.’ said Mr Wednesday. – page 116
‘When the people came to America they brought us with them. They brought me, and Loki and Thor, Anasi and the Lion-God, Leprechauns and Cluracans and Banshees, Kubera and Frau Holle and Ashtaroth, and they brought you. We rode here in their minds,a nd we took root. We traveled with the settlers to the new lands across the ocean.
The land is vast. Soon enough, our people abandoned us, remembered us only as creatures of the old land, as things that had not come with them to the new. Our true believers passed on, or stopped believing and we were left, lost and scared and dispossessed, to get by on what little smidgens of worship or belief we could find. And to get by as best as we could….. Old gods, here in this new land without gods.
‘Now, as all of you will have had reason aplenty to discover for yourselves, there are new gods growing in America, clinging to growing knots of belief: gods of credit cards and freeway, of internet and telephone, or radio and hospital and television, gods of plastic and of beeper and of neon. Proud gods, fat and foolish creatures puffed up with their own newness and importance. – page 136
It’s a shame really. You see, I really really wanted to like the book. So much so that I had read 236 pages of the book. I thought to myself, it’s too late to give up now but yet the world is full of great books that I think I would enjoy without having to plough through the remaining 422 pages of this book.
I remembered you said in an article that: “American Gods tends to be a bit of a marmite book for people: they either love it or hate it. And the ones who hate it tend to be so vocal that I often forget how much the people who love it, love it.” The thing is I love marmite but I didn’t like American Gods.
I heard American Gods 2 is due to be published in early 2013, I wish you the very best of luck. I hope you will understand why I had to abandon the book after reading it for so long. It was too weird and too bizarre for me. It’s just not for me. I’m sure there is a great universal message that you wish to convey through the book. At times I seems to have a glimpse of the greatness but most of the book was a let down.
I now leave it to my readers of this blog to tell me if I should give any of your other books a chance because I couldn’t read American Gods on anymore. I hope you’ll understand.
Paperback. Publisher: Headline, 2011, originally published in 2001; Length: 658 pages; Setting: America. Source: Reading Battle Library. Finished reading up to 236 pages in February 2012.