American Gods, Neil Gaiman

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5 Stars

The story of Shadow who gets out prison only to find himself sucked right into the middle of a gods’ world.  Different kinds of gods, waging war on one another. And Shadow the chosen pawn. Mr. Wednesday’s pawn. Mr Wednesday who (funny thing, I imagined him as Al Pacino all the while) proves to be none other than Odin.

This is one of those rare books you catch sight of on a shelf, and you have it down as one of your favorites before even cracking it open. The thing is, everything about this book commands awe: the size, the style, the story, the cover. The name. American Gods. Just hearing the name in your head pushes you into setting the scene- a universe steeped in uncertainty and thick with mythological creatures and what ensues is a one-of-a-kind story.

The style is typical of Gaiman with fairly simple, short sentences. I can’t help thinking  at this very moment that this sort of writing, devoid of circumlocutory and  grandiloquent sentences, is exactly up my alley. Gaiman’s and Hemingway’s style. Camus’s style in The Stranger. Needless to say, each bears the stamp of its writer, but roughly speaking, they’re pretty similar.

See for yourself:

“There was a bang at the front door at around 2:00 P.M. Shadow had been practicing the Sucker Vanish with a quarter, tossing it from one hand to the other undetectably. His hands were cold enough and clumsy enough that he kept dropping the coin onto the tabletop, and the knock at the door made him drop it again.

He went to  the door and opened it” (p.273).

Brief, punchy, refreshing.

As far as I’m concerned the book is a treasure that exceeded expectations big time.It’s everything they say it is and more.  Calling it a masterpiece is neither going out on a limb, nor  falling in line. It’s merely acknowledging a fact. Suffice it to say that this book propelled Gaiman into the pantheon of my favorite writers. I  could kill for a good book sometimes and he is much of a sure bet, if you ask me .

That said, I don’t want to put neither the book nor the author on too high a pedestal . There’s always the risk of disenchantment as it’s to each their own.The book has a solid 600 pages which translates into the reader’s devoting a great deal of time. So if you’re circumspect about reading this book, you could pick up a lighter one for starters (Say, Coraline –some 150 pages).

Incidentally, those who’d watched Supernatural will have most certainly caught on to the ideas the series borrows from the book.  Like the survival and thriving of the gods hinging on people’s fate. In other words ,the gods feed on prayers and faith and people forgetting a god translates into an ever-growing weakness for the god in question that culminates in death, ultimately. A god is an idea brought to life by faith.

I’m gonna wrap this up by profusely recommending this book  particularly to each and every reader of fantasy and sci-fi,  to those having watched or planning to watch Supernatural, those who are fond of mythology and then to everybody in general really.

An odds-on contender for a place among your all-time favorites. Don’t give it another thought.

Speak your mind.