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

by Neil Gaiman

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24,34162345 (4.09)12 / 1135
Member:Montague
Title:American Gods
Authors:Neil Gaiman
Info:Harper (2002), Mass Market Paperback, 624 pages
Collections:Currently reading
Rating:**1/2
Tags:None

Work details

American Gods by Neil Gaiman (2001)

  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. 232
    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. 166
    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. 80
    Fables, Vol. 1: Legends in Exile by Bill Willingham (sbuehrle)
  8. 81
    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. 71
    King Rat by China Miéville (Runkst)
  10. 93
    The Stand by Stephen King (clif_hiker)
  11. 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.
  12. 40
    The Wood Wife by Terri Windling (Larkken)
  13. 62
    Un Lun Dun by China Miéville (bertyboy)
    bertyboy: Alternative London for alternative fantasy. Have a go!
  14. 41
    Rivers of London by Ben Aaronovitch (Chricke)
  15. 30
    Someplace to be Flying by Charles de Lint (MyriadBooks)
  16. 107
    The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul by Douglas Adams (WoodsieGirl)
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 20
    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.
  20. 20
    Dreams and Shadows by C. Robert Cargill (kqueue)
    kqueue: Dark urban fantasies/horror.

(see all 41 recommendations)

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English (605)  Dutch (4)  Spanish (3)  German (2)  Italian (2)  French (2)  Finnish (2)  Portuguese (1)  Swedish (1)  Portuguese (Brazil) (1)  All languages (623)
Showing 1-5 of 605 (next | show all)
Very long but because I liked Shadow I kept going. It's like being in a non stop dream/nightmare. I was drained when I finished it. I think I'm done with Neil for the moment. I need to let my mind foat on some happy clouds for a while. ( )
  whybehave2002 | May 22, 2015 |
American Gods is to mythology and folklore as a Tarantino movie is to old westerns and Kung Fu films. Gaiman is clearly an expert on his topics, creating a multi-layered story in which Shadow, just released from prison as the story begins, is drawn into the employ of a man who knows more than is humanly possible and is working on a mysterious project involving all of the old gods-- kept alive, but with waning power, as long as they are remembered. As the gods of technology and business quickly rise and fall, the storm that the gods, old and new, sense continues to draw nearer. Gaiman creates a fully realized world; one in which prison inmates read Herodotus, there are plots within plots as independent immortal beings each have their own slightly different goals, and the scholarly reader can find hundreds of allusions, references, or nods to various cultures, histories, mythologies, and tales.
Chapters of the novel often open with stories of other people in other times, and Gaiman’s prowess as a writer comes through in his thought provoking tales, tangents, and anecdotes. As with a Tarantino film, for genre enthusiasts this proves to be an incredible work, a masterpiece by a creator whose love and enthusiasm for the folklore, the style (often a Kerouac reminiscent roadtrip), and the medium shine through on every page. ( )
  Ailinel | May 1, 2015 |
I can't figure out why people like this. There were so many things to not like--Shadow's wife is at the top of my list. And I normally like Neil Gaiman. It was too long and too weird and I wasn't sure what was going on and I didn't really care. ( )
  KR_Patterson | Apr 28, 2015 |
Wasn't quite what I was expecting, but I enjoyed the slow burn pace of the story. Still looking for a story that evokes Lord Byron's Darkness in atmosphere. I didn't enjoy this as much as Neverwhere.
( )
  StaticBlaq | Apr 26, 2015 |
You may expect the magic, the lyricism, and the humor, but the poignancy of American Gods is a great bonus. Undoubtedly one of the best stories I've read about grieving and about letting go in general. The characters are strong--Shadow is someone we can all learn from--and Gaiman has an unusually humane view of our foibles and yearnings.

The insights into mythology and the American spirit are also worthy. Gaiman gets us.

Though there are perhaps one or two too many nested narratives here, you'll hardly notice because several of the longer passages are outright genius and there is always an interesting idea or a joke coming soon. Overall, it adds up to one of the best reading experiences I can recall.
( )
  wreichard | Apr 24, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 605 (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 (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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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.
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

(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 12 descriptions

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