Tuesday, May 29, 2007

American Gods; Neil Gaiman



I know I'm a bit late to jump on the Neil Gaiman fan bandwagon, but count me in. This one is set in the contemporary U.S. Shadow is the antihero; a troubled & somewhat slow headed ex-con, whose loyalty to his wife is questionable and yet touching too. We never learn Shadow's actual 'true name' as they say in fantasies- knowing a person or thing's true-name gives you power over it/him. And Mr. Gaiman certainly never let me feel like I had the power in this plot. I was never quite sure where he was taking me- and I found that quite refreshing.

What would happen if the Gods chose to be actual flesh and blood people living among us ordinary humans? What would happen when the Gods from the Old Country were challenged by the "New Gods" in America? The Greek and Norse and Russian and Egyptian and many more- pantheons all brought to America by believers upon their settlement in the New World. Threatened by the New Gods: consumerism and greed, robber barons, the internet, tv, drugs, alcohol, etc. Who would win? Can an ordinary man thrust into extrordinary circumstances triumph? And what about the nearly dead, but not quite ready to let go wife Laura?

I was absorbed enough not to attempt to research the various mythological gods and goddesses referred to in the text- an amazing feat for a nerdy chick like me. Normally I'd've sat sat on the 'net hunting them all up, but I was in too much of a hurry to try and decipher what Mr. Gaiman had in store next. I have to say I liked the ending- Shadow finally tries the trick the addicted leprechaun told him about, leaving me to wonder who Shadow really was or became over the course of the story and what huge clues did I miss because of my preoccupation?

3 comments:

CindyS said...

Hmmmm, since I tend to need things spelled out for me, I would never figure out who Shadow was. All the same, I hope to one day give Neil Gaiman a try.

CindyS

Megan said...

I've been hearing a lot about Neil Gaiman recently. Your post convinced me that I HAVE to read him. Thanks!

Bookwormom said...

CindyS- If you ever get around to him I hope you enjoy them.

Megan- IMO, his work is absolutely worth it.