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American Gods by Neil Gaiman
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American Gods (original 2011; edition 2002)

by Neil Gaiman

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23,007None48 (4.1)11 / 1036
Member:JohnMunsch
Title:American Gods
Authors:Neil Gaiman
Info:Harper (2002), Mass Market Paperback, 624 pages
Collections:Your library
Rating:***
Tags:None

Work details

American Gods by Neil Gaiman (2011)

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  1. 250
    Fragile Things 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. 222
    Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (WilliamPascoe)
    WilliamPascoe: Phenominally brilliant fantasy .
  3. 212
    Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (infiniteletters)
  4. 166
    Small Gods by Terry Pratchett (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For the necessity of belief.
  5. 101
    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 Mihail 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. 60
    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. 61
    King Rat by China Miéville (Runkst)
  11. 62
    Un Lun Dun by China Miéville (bertyboy)
    bertyboy: Alternative London for alternative fantasy. Have a go!
  12. 40
    The Wood Wife by Terri Windling (Larkken)
  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. 30
    Someplace to be Flying by Charles de Lint (MyriadBooks)
  15. 41
    Midnight Riot by Ben Aaronovitch (Chricke)
  16. 107
    The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams (WoodsieGirl)
  17. 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.
  18. 21
    Votan by John James (avatiakh)
    avatiakh: Gaiman recommendation
  19. 21
    Butcher Bird by Richard Kadrey (AppleSky)
    AppleSky: Contemporary fantasy. Similar gritty feel, similar subject matter.
  20. 10
    Ghost Ocean by Shawn M. Peters (saltmanz)

(see all 40 recommendations)

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English (547)  Dutch (4)  Italian (3)  Spanish (2)  German (2)  French (1)  Portuguese (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  Swedish (1)  Finnish (1)  All languages (563)
Showing 1-5 of 547 (next | show all)
A little confusing, a little trippy, a little magic, murder, mythology, etc., all rolled up into a strange, but surprisingly INTERESTING read! Shadow, who we never learn the real "human" name of, commits a crime, & ends up in prison on a 6 year sentence. He gets out after 3 when they release him upon his wife's untimely death in a car accident. And THAT is where it begins to get weird. He meets a plethora of characters, some seedy, like the drunk who can pull gold coins out of thin air & then ends up dead in the cold, a pair of morticians who are MUCH more than they appear, & the mysterious Mr. Wednesday, who is the driving force behind it all.

NOT sure I was at ALL happy with the ending, but I'll let the rest of you make up your own minds. I am "presuming" that The Anansi Boys is the sequel, or at least a companion book to this story, but since I haven't read that one yet, I can't judge. Needless to say, that one goes in the TBR file :) ( )
  Lisa.Johnson.James | Apr 10, 2014 |
Read for discussion here. A picaresque tale about a man who encounters gods from various cultures liviing in mufti in America who are threatened by new gods of consumerism and technology. See Rock City! Where the gods clash - and the House on the Rock where ... well, you kind of have to be there. A strange and entertaining hero's journey through tacky American tourist spots and creepily idyllic small towns.
  bfister | Apr 7, 2014 |
ORIGINALLY POSTED AT Fantasy Literature.

This is a bad land for Gods...The old gods are ignored. The new gods are as quickly taken up as they are abandoned, cast aside for the next big thing. Either you've been forgotten, or you're scared you're going to be rendered obsolete, or maybe you're just getting tired of existing on the whims of people.

Shadow, just out of prison and with nothing to go home to, is hired to be Mr. Wednesday's bodyguard as he travels around America to warn all the other incarnations of gods, legends, and myths, that “a storm is coming.” There's going to be a battle between the old gods who were brought to melting pot America by their faithful followers generations ago, and the new gods of technology, convenience, and individuality.

That's the premise of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and it's just crackling with promise! But unfortunately, that's not really what this novel is about. It's what the novel keeps telling us it's about (and what many critics told us it was about), but it doesn't deliver.

Yes, there are plenty of gods, myths, and legends, and Gaiman does great things with some of them (e.g., Ibis the undertaker and Mr. Nancy) but most are never developed and a reader who has not read an encyclopedia of folklore probably won't catch all the clever allusions.

Yes, there's Neil Gaiman's characteristic style, which I always enjoy. His prose is clean, unvarnished, and exquisite. His characters are recognizable; His America is recognizable. In fact, this was the best part of the book (and what Gaiman does so well) — Shadow's roadtrip across the United States gave Gaiman plenty of opportunities to showcase his humorous insights into the human condition and, in this case, small-town American life. This was lovely, and I enjoyed these parts of the book.

The problem with American Gods was that the plot, meandering this way and that across the continent, never solidified. Shadow goes to this American town, meets a few gods and legends, goes to this other place, meets a couple more .... There are numerous short stories detailing the lives of these gods and the people who worshiped them, so we expect to see some of these folks again (perhaps at this coming battle), but we don't. A few weird mystical things happen to Shadow and we anticipate an explanation for those occurrences. Then there's a sub-plot involving Shadow's undead wife who asks Shadow to bring her back to life.

I don't want to ruin it for anybody, but let me say that the “storm” we're promised doesn't materialize. Every time there's a conflict, or a tight spot, someone suddenly shows up and, knowingly or unknowingly, takes care of it. Shadow (and his dead wife) figure out what the bad guys are going to do before they do it. Characters who we hoped might play a bigger role, and events that seemed to be significant, just fade away. The whole thing kind of fizzles. The plot twists at the end aren't clever or inventive — they just seem to be there to fit the role of “obligatory plot twist.”

The premise of American Gods has so much promise. I was anticipating some poignant social commentary on America and our habits of worship. After all, American Gods is a best-selling award-winning novel and I expect great things from Neil Gaiman. But it didn't happen this time and I really can't explain the critical acclaim for this novel.
My other Neil Gaiman book reviews. ( )
  Kat_Hooper | Apr 6, 2014 |
A stunning book from Neil Gaiman. It is thick book, but well worth reading. ( )
  KESwriter | Apr 2, 2014 |
You know all those old ancient Gods that humanity used to worship back in the day? Well, they're still hanging around. The only problem is that without that constant devotion from the general public, they're powers aren't as strong as they used to be. Bring in the newly worshiped! The new Gods of media, technology and celebrity. They want to wipe out the Gods of old. Oh, there's a storm on the horizon alright and it's time to see who will win in a battle between the old guard and the new.

I had a lot of trouble with this book. I flip-flopped back and forth on whether I liked it more than well, a pair of flip-flops. The concept is brilliant, I loved it more than I can probably describe here. It's just Gaiman's execution that had me struggling with the material.

I found the content so boring at times which made it beyond frustrating given how much I adored the ideas presented by the author. I did enjoy the banter and blossoming relationship between Wednesday and Shadow, with Shadow developing into a pretty interesting character. His subplot with his wife kept me interested throughout and those he encounters in Lakeside fit in nicely as a strong supporting cast.

I really dug what Gaiman presented here. The idea alone is saving the overall score but everything felt like such a mess at times I found myself unable to really focus. I'll probably get some serious backlash for not loving this one but this is just one man's experience in the face of many positive reviews.

I'm not ready to form an opinion on Gaiman as a writer yet, I just don't know where to go from here. ( )
  branimal | Apr 1, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 547 (next | show all)
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.
 
"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)
 

» Add other authors (101 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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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 the 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 (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

(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 Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:42:26 -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 11 descriptions

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