Tuesday, February 12, 2008

American Gods

If Stephen King is the King Of Blatant Shameless Freakishness, then Neil Gaiman is the Emperor of Subtle Fine Freakishness.

Neil Gaiman doesn't do sharp teeth or gooey ickiness or wet warm blood. He does it in a way that's so subtle and refined and quiet that you forget it's supposed to be freaky. And then you remember. And then you get a wee bit scared.
Take this excerpt for example.

"The telephone in Shadow's apartment was still silent and dead. He thought about getting it connected, but could think of no-one he wanted to call. Late one night he picked it up and listened, and was convinced that he could hear a wind blowing and a distant conversation between a group of people talking in voices too low to properly make out. He said, 'Hello?' and 'Who's there?' but there was no reply, only a sudden silence and then the faraway sound of laughter, so faint he was not certain he was not imagining it."

Shadow, in question, is a convict. Days before his release from prison, he is told that his wife has died in a mysterious car crash. Numb with grief and confusion, he gets on a plane home, where he meets the enigmatic and decidedly odd Mr Wednesday, who claims to be a former god. Shadow, having nothing else left to live for,agrees to work for Mr Wednesday. So they embark on a strange journey across the United States, from New York to Las Vegas, from South Dakota to San Francsico, while a so-called "storm" breaks out, and a war of supernatural and divine proportions is poised to break out.
Shadow meets multititudes of the most remarkable people, all at one time who were gods, brought over from their native lands in the minds and hearts of the people who migrated to the New World.
While Shadow himself struggles with his true identity, and that of the "gods" around him, and his dead wife's corpse who keeps returning to him.
It may not sound like much, but the fact that I am blogging about this book before I have even finished it (just 200 pages to go!) gives you an idea of how good it is.
A great deal of research is necessary in reading American Gods. Neil Giaman features gods, deities and mythological figures from practically every known civilization; Norse, Native American, Bavarian, African, Asian, Arabic, Egyptian. Hindu gods, Chinese gods,Greek gods, Roman gods, even Jesus Christ is given a mention. The process of finding out the stories and details behind the myths and legends, and drawing parallels and lines and connections to the story, are just as fascinating as the book itself.
However if you are familiar with Norse and Scandinavian mythology, to a certain degree, the plot will be quite obvious to you. But Neil Giaman is a fabulous enough author to not let your knowledge of what should happen next spoil the read.
In any case, Bloody Awful Poetry highly recommends.

10 comments:

International Mastermind said...

Yay! neil Gaiman was the author of my first Freaky Book Review. *sniffs*

Gotta read dat!

Bloody Awful Poetry said...

Neil Gaiman will always be special to the freakybookblog. He should be our mascot, or something =P

Oooh did you hear? They are making a movie adaptation of coraline.With Dakota Fanning.

International Mastermind said...

DAKOTA FANNING???!!!

She cannot play the role of Coraline!!!!!! She is overall just too sweet looking.
No, no, no, no, no.
I don't think Coraline was meant to be made into a movie. It is more creepy when your ming goes off of visualizations of reality, and into the fantastical world of your own scary little IMAGINATION...

Or maybe mine is the only one that cooks up crazy visuals.

Bloody Awful Poetry said...

Nope you are totally right.I hate it when they make movies out of really good books. The only ones that did it RIGHT were the Lord Of The Rings movies, imo.
Even reading Harry Potter totally changed for me when the movies came out.After that, everytime i read the books, i found myself very very restricted to imagining and picturing things the way they I had seen them in the movie. There was a different feeling when I had read them years earlier, when they were simply books, and nothing else. I imagined and cooked up my own kick ass visuals. I knew exactly what my Ron and Hermione all looked like, I knew the "feel" Hogwarts was supposed to have, I knew it all in my head. The the movies came along and spoiled that reading experience. Now i don't remember what Harry Potter-world was like for me originally.What got me hooke in he first plac is now replaced with Hollywood movie visuals.
It's not the end of the world or anything, but it's a bit sad...

International Mastermind said...

I always pictured Hermione with red hair, (before the movies.) :)

Bloody Awful Poetry said...

Did you? It was always meant to be brown and bushy. My Ron was really super skinny and really freckly. Before the movies.
And my picture of Snape was always changing I couldn't settle on one look for him, which was fun! Because he looked different in my head everytime!
And Prof. McGonagall........
Well.
Let's just say it never occurred to me that she was a white lady, until i saw the movies.

International Mastermind said...

It's so funny to listen to others's visualizations of the same characters that you know.

*Breath*

Have you read the Kiki Strike series?

Bohae said...

I only read Stardust out of all the books Neil Gaiman wrote *hides, then comes back to say more* But it was really, really good. I need to read the rest of his books... *returns to hiding spot*

Bloody Awful Poetry said...

Yes Bohae, you must must read more Neil Gaiman!

And no I have not read any Kiki Strike! Did Ananka really write those? Where can I get them?

International Mastermind said...

naw, Kirsten Miller did. You can buy it on Amazon, just look up "Kiki strike".