American Gods by Neil Gaiman

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  • Topic: Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book, Hugo Award for Best Novel
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  • Published : May 2, 2011
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American Gods by Neil Gaiman

"Neil Gaiman is a messy-haired white male author trapped in the body of an identical white male author with perhaps even less tidy hair. He thanks you for your offer of a comb but does not believe it would do any good."

This is how fifty-year old Neil Richard Gaiman describes himself. Despite being English, he lives more in America than he does anywhere else in the world. Gaiman was born on the 10th of November 1960 in a small city called Portchester in Hampshire county.

Neil Gaiman wrote his first novel in co-operation with Terry Pratchett. Since his début he has been recognised as one of the best authors of our generation.

In 1999 Neil Gaiman released the first edition of his fantasy novel "Stardust". In 2007 Stardust was made into a movie with the same title.

June 19, 2001, Neil Gaiman published "American Gods". The book is 480 pages in its normal version. The "Author's preferred text" edition (which I read) is 635 pages (+ extra material). The book has received many awards, including the Hugo and Nebula awards. It also won the Bram Stoker, SFX and Locus awards.

Shadow is a minor criminal serving his last few remaining days in jail. He is looking forward to meeting his wife and getting back his old life. His life is in ruins when he finds out that his wife and best friend have died in a car crash. Seeing his life crumbling before his eyes Shadow starts working for a man who calls himself "Mr. Wednesday". It soon becomes clear to Shadow that Mr. Wednesday is a god from Norse mythology and that he is actually Odin "the wanderer". He finds out that a war is coming. The old mythology gods are going to war against "the new gods". The new gods are those who made TV, Highways, Fast Foods and many more indulgences we share in our society.

The book takes place in the present and the plot of the book develops over the course of one long bitter winter. In that winter Shadow and Wednesday travel all over the North-Eastern part of the country. The furthest they go South and West is when they take a large detour to Las Vegas.

"Shadow was big enough and looked don't fuck-with-me enough that his biggest problem was killing time. So he kept himself in shape, and taught himself coin tricks." – (Page 1)

You easilly picture a hardcore muscular prisoner who is dying to get out of jail. But there is more to him. Through all the unexplainable, he watches and says nothing. He rarely questions the actuality of events he witnesses, and never tries to run from the adventures. From time to time you feel Shadow's sadness when he talks to his ghostly wife. Gaiman intentionally does not describe Shadow very much. So each individual reader has a different concept of who Shadow is.

When Shadow does as Mr. Wednesday told him to and takes up the name: "Mike Ainsel" you feel that by assuming the name he becomes even more quiet and downcast. The name Mike Ainsel is from a fairy tale and means: "My ownself". Therefore it's a great psuedonym and gives even more character.

Mr. Wednesday is the most important god in the story. He gave an eye in exchange for a drink from the Well of Wisdom. He is often called the "Allfather", because he is father to the gods. In the book he is described as an old, bearded man in a pale suit who drinks alot of Jack Daniel's. It soon becomes clear that Mr. Wednesday is having a hard time living in America. In America people don't believe in him and don't sacrifice anything to him. That's why he is also a "Con-Artist" who makes "Con-Tricks". Or he uses some of his magic to bed young virgins, which he does several times over the course of the book.

One of Mr. Wednesday's favorite con-tricks is this one: "The Fiddle Game" – (Page 255)

"A first man enters a restaurant, dressed poorly and carrying a violin, and asks to be seated. he eats his meal, then contrives a reason to leave to get his wallet (which he forgot at his home or at a...
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