“American Gods” by Neil Gaiman (Week 4 – Book a Week)

American Gods is as good a book as you can hope to read.  It tells a massive story with the scope and gravitas to encompass gods and nations, but it remains so specific that you feel as if your friends are living it.   The locations are real.  Gaiman lovingly describes the Great Lakes states.  Peru, Illinois and The House on the Rock are note-for-note perfect.  He may be just as good on Reykjavik but, as a Midwestern boy, I can speak with more authority on his observations of Wisconsin.

The cast of American Gods mostly contains mythic figures on the brink of a huge conflict, but a few humans find their way into the story through an accident of history.  In a way, it is easier to write a fictionalized version of character who exists already.  They carry a certain cachet and the reader can picture who they are.  But the difficulty in working with characters who exist in the collective conscious is that if the author hits a wrong note it jars the reader.  So when Gaiman introduces Loki, he needs to be the close enough to the Loki of our imagination that we recognize him, but the story needs to be engaging enough that the character doesn’t get lost in its own shadow.  Gaiman does this beautifully.

The novel is an epic.  It builds up a number of stories, starts a number of conflicts and then pays them off beautifully.  The Dude would call this book “a fucking Swiss watch.”

A Note on the Medium

I originally borrowed this book from the library in CD format.   But it was too exciting for me to wait for someone to read it to me.  I wanted to eat through it in big bites.

Recommended

Housekeeping

I had originally said that I would review Machine Man this week and I still plan to do it but I would like to post that review as a companion piece to the interview that I did with the book’s author, Max Barry and I am waiting for the Max Berry article to be published before I write that review.  If you’re waiting on that review then bless you.  You’re an angel.  If you aren’t… Well, I am going to write it anyway

 

Upcoming 

Week 5 – Dune Messiah

Week 6 – Machine Man