Thursday, April 28, 2011

American Gods (Book)

Forgotten Gods. New Gods. Con Games. Coin Tricks. Road Trips. The Coming Storm.

The winner of the 2002 Hugo, Locus Science Fiction, and Nebula awards can be easily described by its title, American Gods. The story is about the gods and myths that the immigrants brought to America as well as the new ones later created. At times, Neil Gaiman’s story is gross, horrifying, and perhaps sacrilegious. Yet, it is also warm, thought-provoking, and brilliant.

Shadow is a big, loveable lug, who at the beginning of the story is just about to be paroled after serving three years of a six year sentence for assaulting two men. He wants nothing more than to be reunited with his wife and work in the job that his best friend has offered him. Just before the release, he finds out that this wife has been killed in a car accident. Soon after the release, he discovers that his best friend was also killed in the accident, while engaging in a compromising act with Shadow’s wife. With no wife and no job, Shadow is ripe for the advances of Mr. Wednesday, who offers him a mysterious job. Shadow goes on to meet bizarre individuals and have strange experiences.

This would be a great book for an English class, a writing group, or a book group. Gaiman takes a premise, American gods, and builds an original story around it. While not a great fan of dead people coughing up maggots, I have to admit that I enjoyed the book and admire Gaiman. I am not sure I would have picked it up on my own and am grateful that the Hugo Award list led me to it.

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