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American Gods by Neil Gaiman
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American Gods (original 2001; edition 2002)

by Neil Gaiman

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
26,48471139 (4.09)12 / 1269
Member:prophetandmistress
Title:American Gods
Authors:Neil Gaiman
Info:Headline Book Publishing Ltd (2002), Paperback, 480 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:british, fiction, modern goth, ris, josh

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. 232
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (WilliamPascoe)
    WilliamPascoe: Phenominally brilliant fantasy .
  3. 222
    Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (infiniteletters)
  4. 121
    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. 112
    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. 81
    Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham (sbuehrle)
  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. 127
    The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams (WoodsieGirl)
  10. 94
    The Stand {1978} by Stephen King (clif_hiker)
  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
    Angelmaker by Nick Harkaway (BookshelfMonstrosity)
  14. 40
    The Wood Wife by Terri Windling (Larkken)
  15. 73
    Un Lun Dun by China Miéville (bertyboy)
    bertyboy: Alternative London for alternative fantasy. Have a go!
  16. 30
    Someplace to be Flying by Charles de Lint (MyriadBooks)
  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. 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.
  19. 41
    Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Chricke)
  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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Showing 1-5 of 685 (next | show all)
I am not really sure what went wrong with this book. I found the premise intriguing enough, and Gaiman writes in an easy style, but somehow I just couldn’t make myself like it. It was as if there was a slight clashing of gears between the book and my experience of it.

Gaiman’s writing style reminded me of early Stephen King, showing that same knack of readily provoking empathy for the main protagonist, in this case a convict known as Shadow, who is nearing the end of his three year sentence. A model prisoner, Shadow has resolved never to come back inside, promised his wife that he we go straight, knowing that there is a job waiting for him in the gym run by his best friend. His plans fall apart, however, when his wife and the best friend are killed in a car crash just days before his scheduled release. Set free early on compassionate grounds, Shadow encounters someone who calls himself Mr Wednesday, who seems to know far more about Shadow than he reasonably should. After initial doubts, Shadow finds himself taken into Mr Wednesday’s employment as sometime chauffeur and general factotum.

Without wanting to offer too much in the way of spoilers, Shadow finds himself adrift in a world where ancient gods and myths from around the world are alive and locked in conflict. This is clearly a work of great imagination, and I am still trying to work out why it didn’t resonate more strongly with me. ( )
  Eyejaybee | Jun 26, 2017 |
First read in 2011. Loved it then. Love it now
  shadowdancer | Jun 22, 2017 |
A great big meandering river of tales, all heading in the same direction and coming together, although this may not be immediately apparent to the reader or characters. ( )
  CarltonC | Jun 17, 2017 |
Shadow Moon is being released from prison a little early on account of the unexpected passing of his wife Laura. On his way home to the funeral, he meets Mr. Wednesday who offers him a job that is part body guard and part problem solver. Without anything else to lose, he makes it official. Then weird stuff starts happening. TV characters talk to him. A leprechaun teaches him a special coin trick after beating the crap out of him. Someone wants to give his skull a love tap with a large hammer. That’s just the start of things.

I’ve read this book multiple times over the years but this was my first time experiencing the full cast audio production. It was quite good and lived up to my expectations. Shadow is so easy to connect with. He’s got this big heart at his center but he also doesn’t want to be anyone’s push over. Mr. Wednesday was highly amusing with his love for bad food and lust for life. He’s a conman and makes no attempt to hide this from Shadow. These two make an unlikely team and you can’t help but wonder what is Wednesday’s final end game. You can see that Shadow is wondering the same thing and yet he’s still drawn to this man and sucked into whatever he’s playing at.

There’s several female characters in this tale, though they are all pretty minor. Laura has the biggest role in that her actions affect the other characters, though she doesn’t have much actual page time. Bilquis and Easter were my favorite side gods. One is worshiped through sex and the other provides a bounty of food for the homeless in a park. If there is one weakness to this book, it is that all the main characters are male and almost all the decisions and action in this book are carried out by male characters. I would have liked a bit more gender balancing.

Some of my favorite scenes for this book happen in a small frozen town during winter. Shadow has been sent there to lie low while Mr. Wednesday works on whatever scheme he’s got underway. While there, Shadow gets to know some of the people and he learns about some missing kids. In a way, it turns into a little murder mystery. Then there’s also the mortuary and that crazy carousel and the final vibrant scenes at the conclusion of Mr. Wednesday’s big scheme. In some ways, the story is all over the map (sometimes literally as Shadow travels around the US), but it is these American versions of various deities along with the newly minted technology and media-oriented deities that tie everything together. I was glad to see entities that represented the Native Americans as well.

This edition, the 10th anniversary edition, includes an afterword by Neil Gaiman. There he talks about his own journey in coming up with this extraordinary story and characters. He also includes a scene that has Jesus and explains why he ultimately decided not to place that scene within the story. It was great to hear the author’s thoughts on this well loved book.

The Narration: This full cast production was very well done. There were no volume issues and whenever there are two or more characters talking, they sound like they are in the same room. Ron McLarty, Daniel Oreskes, Oliver Wyman, Dennis Boutsikaris, and the rest (though I haven’t been able to find a complete cast list online) did a great job with the various characters. Oliver Wyman makes a great 6 foot tall drunken, angry, magic coin producing leprechaun. McLarty does well with Mr. Wednesday’s character, though in my head I always revert to George Guidall for Mr. Wednesday (Guidall narrated the original version of American Gods and it’s also quite good). ( )
  DabOfDarkness | May 31, 2017 |
This gets checked off of the Books I Should Have Read Already list, as my son has been wanting me to read this for quite a while. I think this was about two thirds too long...Gaiman writes well enough, but about that third in, it got tedious and too full of late-night Ron Popeil's "But wait! There's more!" Also, too much was too obvious...with a book that long, and with a character that vacillated between occasionally sharp and generally obtuse, he dragged out an awful lot. I'm not sure if he thought he was being clever...I've not read any other Gaiman, so I don't know if he's like Michael Crichton in that respect...but it came off that way.

A good book that I really wanted to hurry and finish. ( )
  Razinha | May 23, 2017 |
Showing 1-5 of 685 (next | show all)

» Add other authors (37 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.
Publisher's editors
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References to this work on external resources.

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 9 descriptions

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