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Authors: Neil Gaiman

Tags: #Fantasy, #Contemporary, #Fairy Tales; Folk Tales; Legends & Mythology, #Action & Adventure, #Science Fiction, #Fiction

American Gods

BOOK: American Gods
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American Gods

Neil Gaiman

Editorial Reviews
Amazon.com’s Best of 2001

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

From Publishers Weekly

Titans clash, but with more fuss than fury in this fantasy
demi-epic from the author of Neverwhere. The intriguing premise of Gaiman’s
tale is that the gods of European yore, who came to North America with their
immigrant believers, are squaring off for a rumble with new indigenous deities:
“gods of credit card and freeway, of Internet and telephone, of radio and
hospital and television, gods of plastic and of beeper and of neon.” They all
walk around in mufti, disguised as ordinary people, which causes no end of
trouble for 32-year-old protagonist Shadow Moon, who can’t turn around without
bumping into a minor divinity. Released from prison the day after his beloved
wife dies in a car accident, Shadow takes a job as emissary for Mr. Wednesday,
avatar of the Norse god Grimnir, unaware that his boss’s recruiting trip across
the American heartland will subject him to repeat visits from the reanimated
corpse of his dead wife and brutal roughing up by the goons of Wednesday’s
adversary, Mr. World. At last Shadow must reevaluate his own deeply held
beliefs in order to determine his crucial role in the final showdown. Gaiman
tries to keep the magical and the mundane evenly balanced, but he is clearly
more interested in the activities of his human protagonists: Shadow’s poignant
personal moments and the tale’s affectionate slices of smalltown life are much
better developed than the aimless plot, which bounces Shadow from one episodic
encounter to another in a design only the gods seem to know. Mere mortal
readers will enjoy the tale’s wit, but puzzle over its strained mythopoeia.
(One-day laydown, June 19)Forecast: Even when he isn’t in top form, Gaiman, creator
of the acclaimed Sandman comics series, trumps many storytellers. Momentously
titled, and allotted a dramatic one-day laydown with a 12-city author tour, his
latest will appeal to fans and attract mainstream review coverage for better or
for worse because of the rich possibilities of its premise.

From AudioFile

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Mere days before he is to be released from prison, a man
named Shadow learns that his wife has been killed in a car wreck. On the plane
ride home, he meets a gruff old man named Wednesday, who may be an avatar of
the Norse god Odin. Read dynamically and emotionally by George Guidall—who
gives more personalities and ethnicities than one would think possible—the
story unfolds with Shadow working as Wednesday’s bodyguard in this darkly fantastic
travelogue across an American landscape filled with ghosts and ancient gods.
The old pantheons seem to be at war with the new gods of technology, media, and
fast food. With its roadside vision of American culture and countryside,
American
Gods
is right there with
Travels With Charley
and
Lolita
.
Brilliant dialogue and profound insights into American consciousness show
Gaiman to be a visionary and a master wordsmith. Perfect for a long road trip.
S.E.S. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award. © AudioFile 2001, Portland, Maine

—Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine

—This text refers to the Audio Cassette edition.

From Booklist

Shadow, a strong, silent, Steven Seagal type, has kept his
head down while doing time for creaming the guys who ran off with his share of
a heist. He is about to be released, ticket home in hand, thanks to his lovely
wife; then his departure is pushed up a few days—unhappily, so that he can
attend her funeral. Weather forces his flight down in St. Louis, and he winds
up on a short hop seated next to a mysterious Mr. Wednesday, who informs him
that his once and, he had hoped, future boss is also dead. Would he like to
work for Wednesday, instead? The guy is too creepy by half but, as it happens, hard
to refuse. And after Shadow meets some of Wednesday’s equally creepy friends,
becomes an accomplice to a clever bank robbery, and gets coldcocked and
kidnapped by black-clad heavies, he acquires a certain job loyalty, if only to
find out what he has signed on for—an upcoming battle between the old gods of
America’s many immigrants’ original cultures and the new gods of global,
homogenizing consumerism. The old gods are trying to live peaceably enough in
retirement, which is the predicament Wednesday (i.e., Wotan, or Odin) must
overcome to rally them. After two sterling fantasies, the dark Neverwhere
(1997) and the lighter, utterly charming Stardust (1999), Gaiman comes a
cropper in a tale that is just too busy and, oddly for him, unengaging. His
large fandom may make it a success, but many of them, even, will find it a
chore to get through.

—Ray Olson

From Library Journal

Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved.

 

In his latest novel, Gaiman (Neverwhere) explores the vast
and bloody landscape of myths and legends where the gods of yore and the
neoteric gods of now conflict in modern-day America. The antihero, a man of
unusually acute intellect through whose eyes we witness the behind-the-scenes
dynamics of human religion and faith, is a convict called Shadow. He is flung
into the midst of a supernatural fray of gods such as Odin, Anansi, Loki
One-Eye, Thor, and a multitude of other ancient divinities as they struggle for
survival in an America beset by trends, fads, and constant upheaval an
environment not good for gods. They are joined in this struggle by such
contemporary deities as the geek-boy god Internet and the goddess Media. There’s
a nice plot twist in the end, and the fascinating subject matter and impressive
mythic scope are handled creatively and expertly. Gaiman is an exemplary short
story writer, but his ventures into novels are also compellingly imaginative.
Highly recommended for all libraries.

—Ann Kim,
Library Journal

Book Description

The storm was coming ....Shadow spent three years in prison,
keeping his head down, doing his time. All he wanted was to get back to the
loving arms of his wife and to stay out of trouble for the rest of his life.
But days before his scheduled release, he learns that his wife has been killed
in an accident, and his world becomes a colder place. On the plane ride home to
the funeral, Shadow meets a grizzled man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A
self-styled grifter and rogue, Wednesday offers Shadow a job. And Shadow, a man
with nothing to lose, accepts. But working for the enigmatic Wednesday is not
without its price, and Shadow soon learns that his role in Wednesday’s schemes
will be far more dangerous than he ever could have imagined. Entangled in a
world of secrets, he embarks on a wild road trip and encounters, among others,
the murderous Czernobog, the impish Mr. Nancy, and the beautiful Easter—all of
whom seem to know more about Shadow than he himself does. Shadow will learn
that the past does not die, that everyone, including his late wife, had
secrets, and that the stakes are higher than anyone could have imagined. All
around them a storm of epic proportions threatens to break. Soon Shadow and
Wednesday will be swept up into a conflict as old as humanity itself. For
beneath the placid surface of everyday life a war is being fought—and the prize
is the very soul of America. As unsettling as it is exhilarating, American Gods
is a dark and kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth and across an America at
once eerily familiar and utterly alien. Magnificently told, this work of
literary magic will haunt the reader far beyond the final page.

Download Description

“Special Feature: This PerfectBound e-book contains ““On the
Road to American Gods: Selected Passages from Neil Gaiman’s Online Journal”“.
The storm was coming. Shadow spent three years in prison, keeping his head
down, doing his time. All he wanted was to get back to the loving arms of his
wife and to stay out of trouble for the rest of his life. But days before his
scheduled release, he learns that his wife has been killed in an accident, and
his world becomes a colder place. On the plane ride home to the funeral, Shadow
meets a grizzled man who calls himself Mr. Wednesday. A self-styled grifter and
rogue, Wednesday offers Shadow a job. And Shadow, a man with nothing to lose
accepts. But working for the enigmatic Wednesday is not without its price, and
Shadow soon learns that his role in Wednesday’s schemes will be far more
dangerous than he ever could have imagined. Entangled in a world of secrets, he
embarks on a wild road trip and encounters, among others, the murderous Czernobog,
the impish Mr. Nancy, and the beautiful Easter-all of whom seem to know more
about Shadow than he himself does. Shadow will learn that the past does not
die, that everyone, including his late wife, had secrets, and that the stakes
are higher than anyone co—This text refers to the Digital edition.

Part One: Shadows
Chapter One

The boundaries of our country, sir? Why sir, on the north we
are bounded by the Aurora BoreaUs, 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 Judgment.


The American Joe Miller’s Jest Book
.

 

Shadow had done three years in prison. He was big enough and
looked don’t-fuck-with-me enough that his biggest problem was killing time. So
he kept himself in shape, and taught himself coin tricks, and thought a lot
about how much he loved his wife.

The best thing—in Shadow’s opinion, perhaps the only good
thing—about being in prison was a feeling of relief. The feeling that he’d
plunged as low as he could plunge and he’d hit bottom. He didn’t worry that the
man was going to get him, because the man had got him. He was no longer scared
of what tomorrow might bring, because yesterday had brought it.

It did not matter, Shadow decided, if you had done what you
had been convicted of or not. In his experience everyone he met in prison was
aggrieved about something: there was always something the authorities had got
wrong, something they said you did when you didn’t—or you didn’t do quite like
they said you did. What was important was that they had gotten you.

He had noticed it in the first few days, when everything,
from the slang to the bad food, was new. Despite the misery and the utter
skin-crawling horror of incarceration, he was breathing relief.

Shadow tried not to talk too much. Somewhere around the
middle of year two he mentioned his theory to Low Key Lyesmith, his cellmate.

Low Key, who was a grifter from Minnesota, smiled his
scarred smile. “Yeah,” he said. ‘That’s true. It’s even better when you’ve been
sentenced to death. That’s when you remember the jokes about the guys who
kicked their boots off as the noose flipped around their necks, because their
friends always told them they’d die with their boots on.”

BOOK: American Gods
7.44Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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