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American Gods by Neil Gaiman
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American Gods (original 2001; edition 2001)

by Neil Gaiman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
27,41273965 (4.08)12 / 1367
Member:Jill41
Title:American Gods
Authors:Neil Gaiman
Info:New York : W. Morrow, c2001.
Collections:To read, Ryan's Collection, Your library
Rating:
Tags:21st C. British Literature, Book Turned TV Series, Fantasy

Work details

American Gods by Neil Gaiman (2001)

  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. 242
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (WilliamPascoe)
    WilliamPascoe: Phenominally brilliant fantasy .
  3. 222
    Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (infiniteletters)
  4. 111
    Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko (citygirl)
    citygirl: When the supernatural collides with modern life. One in Moscow, one in the US.
  5. 177
    Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For the necessity of belief.
  6. 90
    Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham (sbuehrle)
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 72
    Un Lun Dun by China Miéville (bertyboy)
    bertyboy: Alternative London for alternative fantasy. Have a go!
  10. 94
    The Stand {1978} by Stephen King (clif_hiker)
  11. 61
    King Rat by China Miéville (Runkst)
  12. 117
    The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams (WoodsieGirl)
  13. 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.
  14. 40
    The Wood Wife by Terri Windling (Larkken)
  15. 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.
  16. 41
    Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Chricke)
  17. 52
    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.
  18. 30
    Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  19. 30
    Someplace to be Flying by Charles de Lint (MyriadBooks)
  20. 42
    Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ's Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore (andomck)
    andomck: Religion, realism, fantasy, humor, low brow, etc. Makes sense to me.

(see all 44 recommendations)

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English (717)  Spanish (4)  German (4)  Dutch (3)  Italian (2)  French (2)  Finnish (2)  Portuguese (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Swedish (1)  Catalan (1)  All languages (738)
Showing 1-5 of 717 (next | show all)
In many ways, I don't think this is a book one likes. It can be important, and meaningful, and beautiful, and sad, and real. But one doesn't just like it.

I also felt like the book was depressed. It didn't make me sad, but it made me feel like it was sad. I've never got the impression that a book had emotions before, but I did with this one.

This is an odd book. It is incredibly well written. There are so many layers to the story, the characters, the world. I found it fascinating, but I also found it occasionally boring. The writing got so lovely, so intense, that it became mundane. You know how Mr. Ibis said that life and death are two sides of the same coin? In a sense this book was like that. I liked it; I didn't like it. It interested me; it bored me. Two sides of the same coin. ( )
  ca.bookwyrm | Feb 22, 2019 |
The story of an ex-con who is recruited to take part in a war between the old and new gods. Mythology and folklore buffs will have fun identifying the various figures in the novel (some are obvious; others are more obscure); I did pretty well but I wanted to kick myself for not recognizing the very first one who appears. Oddly I thought it read a lot like a Stephen King novel, a good one. It meanders a bit in the middle but everything comes together in the end and all apparent loose ends and coincidences are adequately explained. ( )
  chaosfox | Feb 22, 2019 |
I'm not usually an audio book person, the one person reading with just changing voice doesn't distance characters enough for me, so when I saw this was an ensemble cast, I jumped all over it.

I watched the show on Starz before listening to this and was pleasantly surprised at how closely the show follows the book, for the first 1/3 or so. I thought the beginning was endlessly fascinating but as the story goes on, my gods do the tangents get plentiful and looong. I started off listening really closely to the stories being told by the townsfolk Shadow encounters, thinking there was hidden meanings, clues, or foreshadowing but after more stories about moose, I just couldn't do it.

Listening to an ensemble cast was ear catching but listening to this "author's preferred" text, which I'm taking to mean little to no editing, gave it a very plodding pace. I think the show did a fantastic job cutting out what dragged for me and instead of having Shadow's wife kind of disappear for a good amount of time like she does in the book, having her travel with Mad Sweeney So, mad sweeney dies in the book and I wanted to freaking riot, love that character. Am madly hoping the show deviates hard from this to keep the audience's relationship growing with her.

Again, I'm not an audio book person, so the feeling of the story dragging along and having pointless stories told by secondary characters, could have been amplified by the format. I thought the voice actors did a great job verbalizing their parts and thought it added a lot of fun to the story. I think I have to give the nod the tv series, though. Here's to hoping for a second season. ( )
  WhiskeyintheJar | Feb 14, 2019 |
My first book read on my brand new Kindle reader - and I wasn't disappointed! I couldn't put it down (literally) and carried it around in a pocket / handbag for three days reading a page at a time when time permitted. And this edition apparently has 1000 words extra!
I have already read Anansi boys so I came into this with some background. I love mythology (Norse, Greek, Roman, Celtic etc) so I was able to identify a lot of the characters. I loved the plot twists, and how all the interludes tied up to the main narrative at the end.
I love Gaiman's style of writing and it always inspires me to get back to whatever story I myself am working on at the time.
I'm reading this for a book club and can't wait to use the discussion questions appended at the end!
Oh, and the extra interviews etc at the end was unexpected and fantastic
( )
  Nadishka | Jan 26, 2019 |
Good, especially at the beginning, but it kinda loses thread later on, reaching a potentially unsatisfying conclusion. Also, the battle between the old gods that people have (nearly) abandoned and the new gods (TV, internet, highways) skirts the issue of the current god(s), i.e Christianity. ( )
  matija2019 | Jan 8, 2019 |
Showing 1-5 of 717 (next | show all)
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.
 
"American Gods" is a juicily original melding of archaic myth with the slangy, gritty, melancholy voice of one of America's great cultural inventions -- the hard-boiled detective; call it Wagnerian noir. The melting pot has produced stranger cocktails, but few that are as tasty.
added by stephmo | editSalon.com, Laura Miller (Jun 22, 2001)
 
Sadly, American Gods promises more than it delivers. The premise is brilliant; the execution is vague, pedestrian and deeply disappointing. It's not bad, but it's not nearly as good as it could be. There are wonderful moments, but they are few and far between. This should be a massive, complex story, a clash of the old world and the new, a real opportunity to examine what drives America and what it lacks. Instead, it is an enjoyable stroll across a big country, populated by an entertaining sequence of "spot the god" contests.
 

» Add other authors (19 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Neil Gaimanprimary authorall editionscalculated
Boutsikaris, DennisNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Estrada, SigridAuthor photosecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Guidall, GeorgeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Jones, SarahNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Kivimäki, MikaTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Mcginnis, RobertCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McKean, DaveIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
McLarty, RonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Oreskes, DanielNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
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
Dedication
For absent friends—Kathy Acker and Roger Zelazny, and all points between
First words
Shadow had done three years in prison.
Quotations
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
(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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.
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Wikipedia in English (3)

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

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

(one-horse.library)
Shadow, with help from
wife, finds fickle gods and beats
them at their own game.
(legallypuzzled)

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.

(summary from another edition)

» see all 17 descriptions

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