(With apologies, dear readers, for the lack of posts. Spare time has become less common these days, at least over at Chez Casa Troll. Still, a few brief paragraphs on a recently-read novel. It turns out this is even an Easter post -- though you'll have to read the book to understand the several connections.)
If I could offer only one sentence to describe American Gods: this is a slow--but very intriguing--novel.
Shadow is released from prison only to learn his wife has been killed. The emotionally-dulled Shadow is hardly affected. (Odd, no? But the reader will slowly realize the depth of Shadow's loss.) A certain Mr. Wednesday offers Shadow a job as errand-boy and bodyguard. Under Wednesday's guidance and, sometimes, protection, Shadow drifts across the American landscape, always plodding behind his employer -- who is leader of a nascent rebellion of the old and weak immigrant gods against the new American gods.
The setting is one that is familiar to anyone who has taken long drives -- caffeine hazes and cramping legs -- along the backroads of the midwest US of A. I've driven into many dusty towns no longer on the highway, dingy and faded places that seem to have barely-heard echoes of memories drifting down empty streets. These places are romantic only in literature, but if you find yourself stepping into a cafe along some former main street, screen door clattering behind you, perhaps you too could envision a country in which gods and folk heroes might sit at nicked-up formica tables -- in plaid shirts, faded jeans, worrying at soggy hash-browns -- complaining of better times when people remembered them, and what can you do about it anyways?
I thought this was quite a remarkable book -- quite slow, however, so perhaps not a novel for the impatient. I look forward to reading more Neil Gaiman in the future. (And of course, I would be remiss in not mentioning the Sandman graphic novels. I believe Billy Goat is a fan of these; perhaps we can convince him to offer a post?)
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