American Gods by Neil Gaiman
6 April 2003


I started this book curled up in bed on a dull Saturday morning; I finished it as the following Saturday turned into Sunday and thunder rolled on and on around my room. Only after closing the back cover did I notice the storm. The previous night I had failed to observe three train stations as my train passed them. Mr Gaiman had deadened me to the world in a way I have not really been deadened since I was twelve years old. And I do not lightly give my blessing to a fantasy novelist, and this guy is so good.

It's the tying together of threads and the feeling that the author knows more than you, but he's going to tell you, just give him time. And the characters. No images got to me, but I wound up really liking Mr Wednesday and Hinzelmann and Mad Sweeny. Shadow left me a bit indifferent. He carried the tale well though, and his lineage pleased me (too bad you have to die to find out these things).

Yeah, I made friends with the gods and I enjoyed spending time with them. Only Loki disappointed me, because I used to like Loki when I was a child. He was my special god so naturally I feel that Gaiman hasn't done him justice. All the other gods are perfect. I wouldn't have them otherwise.

And the plot? No problem. No complaints. The odd end left loose, but you've got to have those sometimes. And at 628 pages there probably wasn't much further to go. Most of what I want to know wouldn't have fit into the slow climax anyway, so I guess it had to be abandoned.

There's been a lot to think about and many excellent sentences (which I'll never remember). The language is certainly skilful and effective. A few days ago I was talking to a friend about my recent rediscovery of fiction. "It's like," I said, "discovering a million extra universes". This one is well worth being in. Thank you, Mr Gaiman.


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