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American Gods by Neil Gaiman

American Gods (2001)

by Neil Gaiman

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: American Gods (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
24,82063844 (4.09)12 / 1160
Recently added bytoddbg, TabithaMorey, jnprjns, samjudd, aviskase, bralee21, AndyMD, darienne, TommyElf, private library
  1. 260
    Fragile Things: Short Fictions and Wonders by Neil Gaiman (Anonymous user, moonstormer)
    Anonymous user: It's a great collection all around but the kicker is this collection includes a novella about Shadow a couple years after the events of American Gods
    moonstormer: Fragile Things contains a short story with the same character as is in American Gods. Both are highly recommended.
  2. 232
    Neverwhere: A Novel by Neil Gaiman (WilliamPascoe)
    WilliamPascoe: Phenominally brilliant fantasy .
  3. 222
    Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (infiniteletters)
  4. 166
    Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For the necessity of belief.
  5. 111
    Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko (citygirl)
    citygirl: When the supernatural collides with modern life. One in Moscow, one in the US.
  6. 102
    The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov (klarusu)
    klarusu: The same sense of unreality layered over a real-world setting, the same undercurrent of humour but this time it's the Devil that lands in Moscow
  7. 70
    Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham (sbuehrle)
  8. 93
    The Stand by Stephen King (clif_hiker)
  9. 71
    Last Call by Tim Powers (grizzly.anderson, MyriadBooks)
    grizzly.anderson: Both are about old world gods making their place in the new world.
    MyriadBooks: For aspiring to win in a bargain with gods.
  10. 72
    Un Lun Dun by China Miéville (bertyboy)
    bertyboy: Alternative London for alternative fantasy. Have a go!
  11. 61
    King Rat by China Miéville (Runkst)
  12. 62
    Eight Days of Luke by Diana Wynne Jones (guyalice)
    guyalice: Neil Gaiman was surprised to discover that the concept of Eight Days of Luke was very similar to what he had initially planned for the plot of American Gods. He dropped the day-theme to avoid too many similarities and gave props to Wynne Jones.
  13. 40
    The Wood Wife by Terri Windling (Larkken)
  14. 107
    The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams (WoodsieGirl)
  15. 30
    Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  16. 41
    Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Chricke)
  17. 30
    The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell (sturlington)
    sturlington: The Bone Clocks reminded me strongly of Neil Gaiman and David Mitchell has said that Gaiman was an influence.
  18. 30
    Someplace to be Flying by Charles de Lint (MyriadBooks)
  19. 42
    The Lost Continent: Travels in Small-Town America by Bill Bryson (rockhopper_penguin)
    rockhopper_penguin: I read these two books one after another. It wasn't a deliberate decision, but the two did seem to work well together. The books visit a few of the same places, and it's interesting to note how differently they are portrayed in each.
  20. 20
    Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill (kqueue)
    kqueue: Dark urban fantasies/horror.

(see all 42 recommendations)


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Showing 1-5 of 619 (next | show all)
Maybe I just tried to read this at the wrong time in my life but I could not get involved in the story. I liked Shadow as a character but there were too many interstitial pieces about ancient gods, etc. that, for me, interfered with the flow of the narrative. I can understand why Gaiman fans loved it but I preferred Anansi Boys and Neverwhere. ( )
1 vote bookappeal | Nov 13, 2015 |
I loved it. ( )
  Irena. | Nov 3, 2015 |
someone gave me the new 10th anniversary edition, and I haven't read it since it originally came out and I don't know if it's just the sort of book that needs to be reread to be properly appreciated or if it's the nearly 12,000 extra words restored from an earlier draft, but I went from, 'yeah, I liked that,' to 'that is a brilliant piece of work.' It's a great novel, period, and I did not want it to come to an end. A great companion piece to Sandman, too, oddly enough, playing variations on themes and characters touched on there. This also includes the terrific novella Monarch Of The Glen as an extra, and now I'm really looking forward to the sequel. ( )
  Nigel_Quinlan | Oct 21, 2015 |
I find it really weird how many American media products have the word "American" in the title. Obviously, this; a few weeks back I also read American Rust. You've got your American Beauty, American Ninja, An American Werewolf in London. American Psycho. American Sniper. American Pie, American Dad, American Graffiti. What is going on here, what are they trying to prove?? I really don't understand it. I mean you'd never get "British Beauty", "French Psycho", would you? That just seems completely laughable.

Anyway, I really didn't get this book. It made no sense to me at all. I mean it's a fun conceit, that gods are living among men in modern day America, desperate to regain the faith they once commanded, but I just felt like it wasn't thought through properly. It presents itself as being predicated on the idea that ‘America is a bad land for gods’ – this is something that characters keep saying to one another, moodily, that America is a really bad land for gods – and this is apparently why all the gods are now living hand-to-mouth existences as drifters or menial labourers.

Only – huh? Are we talking about the same America here? The one where 51 percent of the population think that humans were created by a divine being, and a further 40 percent think they were created by evolution which was set in motion by a divine being (leaving, as Tim Minchin said, a very small percentage of Americans who are right)? Is that the America that is supposed to be a bad land for gods? Do me a favour, it must be one of the most religious countries in the western world. I've driven through my share of rural Tennessee, where much of American Gods takes place, and one of the most striking things about these communities is the fact that there seems to be one church for every six or seven houses. God is invoked on the currency, on the news, by the head of state, and in schoolrooms every morning by little kids.

This is what is so frustrating about the book, because it seems like a brilliant chance to examine religion in the US in a cool and interesting way – but it doesn't. It either doesn't dare or it doesn't bother. I mean – if you're going to run with this idea that gods are walking around, with the more powerful deities being those who have the most believers, then where the fuck is Yahweh? I'm supposed to believe that Anubis is twatting around driving a hearse in fucking Cairo, IL. – despite the fact that no one in the history of America has ever worshipped Anubis – and yet Jesus doesn't make a single appearance? Somehow it's OK to play around with foreign gods that seem quaint or folkloric, but monotheism's off the table. It just didn't make any sense to me.¹

Instead, what we have to propel the narrative along is just a kind of comic-book war that we're supposed to care about. So although there were quite a few scenes that had me flipping the pages with engagement, there was always this nagging feeling that none of it really meant anything and that I didn't really care very much what happened to anyone. It doesn't help that the protagonist (with the dreadful name of ‘Shadow Moon’) is, for a central character, annoyingly passive and lacking in personality (although the goddesses he encounters still have a remarkable habit of wanting to have sex with him).

As for the writing style, well, it's fine, but it has absolutely no flair. There's quite an interesting bit in the Acknowledgements where Gaiman thanks many of his beta-readers and editors for spotting ‘stray and unintentional anglicisms’, presumably so he could remove them; this I think is something that contributes to the featureless blandness of his style. I'm not saying he is unentitled to this voice or anything like that – his wife is American, he lives in America, this is totally an authentic voice for him. It's just not one that has any character. It works in a kind of tab-A-into-slot-B way.

This is certainly not a bad book and it's quite readable – I think I'm just disappointed because I had unfairly high hopes, and I liked the concept, and I have a lot of friends who really enjoyed it. For me it was just a bit baffling and cartoony. In the same way that His Dark Materials is like a children's story for grown-ups, American Gods felt like an adult story for children. This is my third Neil Gaiman book (after Sandman and Smoke and Mirrors) and they have all been underwhelming; I think I'll just leave him alone now, since I'm sure they deserve higher ratings than I'm prepared to give them, but that's what you get when I try and squeeze in a review at 01:23 am in a foreign city when I still have another two hours' work to do before I can go to bed.

¹This "Tenth Anniversary Edition" includes in its appendices a brief section in which Jesus does, in fact make a brief appearance. This was cut from the original published version, and you can see why; it is very short and it raises more questions than it answers. The problem is, these are the questions the book should have been about. ( )
1 vote Widsith | Oct 5, 2015 |
Loved this book. Read the 10th anniversary edition. The audio version, full cast recording. ( )
  Big_Blue | Sep 29, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 619 (next | show all)
Neil Gaiman nagyszerű mesélő: a helyszínek megelevenednek, igazi emberek élnek a városkákban (főként Lakeside-ban), megismerünk a szemben álló felet vezető szándékokból is valamennyit. Nincs egyértelmű jó és rossz.
This might all sound like a bit much. But Gaiman -- who is best known as the creator of the respected DC Comics ''Sandman'' series -- has a deft hand with the mythologies he tinkers with here; even better, he's a fine, droll storyteller.
This is a fantastic novel, as obsessed with the minutiae of life on the road as it is with a catalogue of doomed and half-forgotten deities. In the course of the protagonist Shadow's adventures as the bodyguard and fixer of the one-eyed Mr Wednesday, he visits a famous museum of junk and the motel at the centre of the US, as well as eating more sorts of good and bad diner food than one wants especially to think about.
added by mikeg2 | editThe Independent, Roz Kaveney (Jul 18, 2001)
Part of the joy of American Gods is that its inventions all find a place in a well-organised structure. The book runs as precisely as clockwork, but reads as smoothly as silk or warm chocolate.
added by stephmo | editThe Independent, Roz Kaveney (Jul 18, 2001)
Gaiman's stories are always overstuffed experiences, and ''American Gods'' has more than enough to earn its redemption, including a hero who deserves further adventures.

» Add other authors (22 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neil Gaimanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Boutsikaris, DennisNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, SarahNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kivimäki, MikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McLarty, RonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oreskes, DanielNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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One question that has always intrigued me is what happens to demonic beings when immigrants move from their homelands. Irish-Americans remember the fairies, Norwegian-Americans the nisser, Greek-Americans the vryókolas, but only in relation to events remembered in the Old Country. When I once asked why such demons were not seen in America, my informants giggled confusedly and said, "They're scared to pass the ocean, it's too far," pointing out that Christ and the apostles never came to America.
—Richard Dorson, "A Theory For American Folklore", American Folklore and the Historian
The boundaries of our country sir? Why sir, on the north we are bounded by the Aurora Borealis, on the east we are bounded by the rising sun, on the south we are bounded by the procession of the Equinoxes, and on the west by the Day of Judgement
—The American Joe Miller's Jest Book
They took her to the cemet'ry
In a big ol' cadillac
They took her to the cemet'ry
But they did not bring her back.
—old song
For absent friends—Kathy Acker and Roger Zelazny, and all points between
First words
Shadow had done three years in prison.
Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, and we resume our lives.
"A town isn't a town without a bookstore. It may call itself a town, but without a bookstore it knows it's not fooling a soul."
When people came to America they brought us with them. They brought me, and Loki, and Thor, Anansi and the Lion-God, Leprechauns and Kobalds and Banshees, Kubera and Frau Holle and Ashtaroth, and they brought you. We rode here in their minds, and we took root. We travelled 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, only what little smidgens of worship or belief we could find. And to get by as best we could.
'So that's what we've done, gotten by, out on the edges of things, where no-one was watching us too closely.'
Gods die. And when they truly die they are unmourned and unremembered. Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end.
All we have to believe with is our senses, the tools we use to perceive the world: our sight, our touch, our memory. If they lie to us, then nothing can be trusted. And even if we do not believe, then still we cannot travel in any other way than the road our senses show us; and we must walk that road to the end.
There's never been a true war that wasn't fought between two sets of people who were certain they were in the right. The really dangerous people believe they are doing whatever they are doing solely and only because it is without question the right thing to do. And that is what makes them dangerous.
Last words
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Disambiguation notice
There are at least two different editions of this book.   The original was published in 2001, and the tenth anniversary edition (Author's preferred text)  was published in 2011.   Please do not combine.
Please note: the author's name is Neil Gaiman. If this is your book, please put his name in place of "Kindle Edition" and it will combine correctly with other copies of this work. Thank you.
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Wikipedia in English (5)

Book description
The book follows the adventures of ex-convict Shadow, who is released from prison a few days earlier than planned on account of the death of his wife, Laura, in a car accident. Shadow finds work as the escort and bodyguard of the confidence man Mr. Wednesday, and travels across America visiting Wednesday's colleagues and acquaintances. Gradually, it is revealed that Wednesday is an incarnation of Odin the All-Father (the name Wednesday is derived from "Odin's (Woden's) day"), who in his current guise is recruiting American manifestations of the Old Gods of ancient mythology, whose powers have waned as their believers have decreased in number, to participate in an epic battle against the New American Gods, manifestations of modern life and technology (for example, the Internet, media, and modern means of transport). Laura comes back in the form of a sentient animated corpse due to a special coin Shadow had placed in her coffin, and is instrumental in eliminating several of the New Gods' agents.

AR 5.3, 28 Pts
Haiku summary
New gods, and old ones
All across America
- A storm is coming

Gods, starving, lose faith;
Easy marks for Odin's scheme.
Shadow holds his breath.

Shadow, with help from
wife, finds fickle gods and beats
them at their own game.

Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0060558121, Paperback)

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

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:16:03 -0400)

(see all 10 descriptions)

Just released from prison, Shadow encounters Mr. Wednesday, an enigmatic stranger who seems to know a lot about him, and when Mr. Wednesday offers him a job as his bodyguard, Shadow accepts and is plunged into a dark and perilous world.

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