David (thisplacehere) wrote in bookish,

American Gods by Neil Gaiman (2001/4)

Shadow has come to the end of three years in prison and is looking forward to reuniting with his wife Laura; but, just as he's about to be released, he learns that she died d in a car crash that morning. The bottom having fallen out of his life, Shadow ends up working for Mr Wednesday, who is travelling across America to gather together the old gods who came across with their peoples, in preparation for the coming showdown with the new gods of technology, media and the modern world...

This was my second time reading Gaiman's vast opus, only this time it was the paperback reprint, which (says the introduction) is 12,000 words longer than the original hardback. What hadn't crossed my mind is that 12,000 words isn't actually that much when compared to the several-hundred-thousand words of the original text, so I didn't actually notice the extra length. Besides, I'd forgotten a lot of the details in the seven years since I first read American Gods, so it was very much like reading an unfamiliar book.

And it was a book I enjoyed reading very much. The pages flew by, despite the novel's great length. I particularly liked the way that Gaiman wove his gods (some familiar to me, many not) into the fabric of contemporary America with just enough magic to give them weight and mystery, without overdoing it. The plot has an unusual, raggedy structure, full of diversions; which might be infuriating in less capable hands, but worked perfectly here. Gaiman even manages to create a main character who comes across simultaneously as a cipher and a complex individual -- and, furthermore, it works. I'd pick out individual episodes, but it's the experience of reading American Gods as a whole that looms largest in my mind. An excellent book to immerse yourself in.

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