Monday, February 07, 2011

What do you get if you mix a little of On the Road with The Dictionary of Mythology, Folklore and Symbols?  I think American Gods does a pretty good job of exploring that possibility.

It took me a while to get into the reading of American Gods, but that might have had more to do with me than with Gaiman's writing.  Gaiman always tells a good tale, and he is always funny and entertaining.  American Gods is certainly no exception.

The story is fairly convoluted, and you never seem to be able to be 100% sure that you know quite what's going on.  In that way, the book allows you to sympathize with the protagonist, Shadow, because he's forever being led to places and into situations that he can't be quite sure he gets.  He just does what he has to do anyway, and things sort of fall into place in his mind as he goes along.  That's something of a metaphor for the reading experience with this book.  Do things seem a little confusing?  Well, just keep on reading and it will fall into place.

I really enjoyed Gaiman's telling of travels across the US.  The way the travels were woven into the narrative, and the sense of place was built up, was a fun way to make the story work.

The version of the book that I read is Gaiman's preferred version of the text, as per an author's note at the beginning of the book.  I don't know how it compares to other versions out there, but I think you can see signs in the one I read of a sort of careful — maybe even obsessive — attention to the little things that bring the land and the characters to life.  I don't know if I would've been quite as aware of it without that note at the beginning, but the effect of that careful plotting out of all the little things is a good one.

As with any Gaiman novel, this one is worth getting your hands on.

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