American Gods by Neil Gaiman

This is a review of the 10th anniversary Author’s Preferred Text that just came out. Which I had to get of course as soon as it was released. Wow this book has power. It really does. Honestly, I can’t tell you what’s new and what’s not in this book because I haven’t read it in 6 years. But I won’t let another 6 years go by without reading it again. It does have a new introduction and some extra stuff in the back, but as for the rest of the 12,000 new words…I really don’t know which ones they are.

But that doesn’t matter. It really doesn’t. Because every single sentence in this book belongs there. There’s not a sentence gone to waste and personally I think this preferred edition should be the only edition. Because when it comes to stories as good as this, who wants LESS words?

American Gods is a really hard book to summarize. The basic story is of a man named Shadow who is released from prison only to find that his wife is dead and that he’s become wrapped up in the world of the gods after meeting a man named Wednesday. Though he mingles mostly with the old gods, there are the new gods as well. Gods of the internet, cell phones, things like that. And a war is being set up between the two. But that’s a very simple version of this story.

It’s simultaneously a journey across America. A journey into all of the different places that make America so American. Gaiman takes us to vegas, the The House on the Rock which is basically a museum of miscellany and the bizarre, Rock City, and so many more places. Places that actually exist. It’s these places that hold power for the gods. These are places that hold a power in themselves because of the types of places they are. I’d love to use AG as a guide book one day and travel America.

When I first read this book in 2005, right after Hurricane Katrina, on a cruise ship I was living on after having lost my house, I fell in love with it. It was instantly my new favorite book. And it’s remained that for the last 6 years. I started reading this book again and thought to myself “damn this is good, but why is it my favorite book again?” I felt like I had read better…And then I kept reading. I fell back in with all of the characters. I got to the little town that Shadow stays in under the name Mike Ainsel. I got to Rock City. I got to THAT chapter with Shadow doing THAT thing for Odin with a tree. And it all came back to me.

This book isn’t just a reading experience…it’s so much more. It takes you into it’s world. It has so many wise things to say. It has so much research behind it. It reminded me again why Gaiman is such an incredible author and just an incredible person. There’s no one else out there writing the books that he does.

I was driving home today from the coffee shop and I saw a birdhouse sticking over a fence. It was painted all black except for “SEE ROCK CITY” painted on it in white. I smiled because those exact birdhouses are described in American Gods during the Rock City scene. I hadn’t even heard of rock city before reading this book for the first time. And I certainly have never seen a Rock City bird house until today. I’m telling you…there’s power in this book.

9 Responses

  1. I really must get back to reading this… My audio book experienced some technological problems…

  2. I also loved this book when i listened to it. I’ve not been to Rock City but i have been on the Lookout Mountain.

  3. there’s nothing like reading ones favorite book! it never grows old, and the feelings are always there.. boy don’t we wish more books hit that exact feeling!

  4. Wonderful post. I do enjoy rereading an old favorite. So happy you fell in love with it all over again 😀

  5. Oh, I love this book SO MUCH. I have to read the new edition, but I think I’ll wait another couple years. I like to almost forget them, before I reread them. I recommend this book all over the place, though. So freaking good.

  6. I’m so glad that re-reading it (or reading this new version) reaffirmed your love for the story. It is a pretty amazing feat of storytelling and Shadow is far and away one of my favorite literary characters. I’ve read the book once and listened to it a couple of times on audio and it never fails to suck me in. Its been several years since I’ve ‘read’ it and I need to go snag my copy of this book while there are still good copies at the bookstore to be had.

    I agree with your assessment of Gaiman, nobody writes stories like he does. Which is why it is endlessly frustrating to see him working on screenplays and any other thing under the sun instead of writing novels!

  7. I really should try reading this one again *hides* because last time, I just couldn’t get into in *unhides* and I did get a copy of this new version when I was at Headline the other month.

  8. I have had such a weird relationship with American Gods. The first time I read it, in high school, during final exam time, I found it absolutely enthralling, couldn’t put it down, it’s the book that made me love Neil Gaiman. I’ve reread it since then, and liked it, but I’ve never had anything close to that same thrilling rollercoastery reading experience. I’ve never liked it as much as I did the first time. 😦

  9. I absolutely LOVE this book! Need to read it again really soon. I don’t re-read a lot of books, but this one I will definitely be reading again. Really, how can you absorb it all in only one read???

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