Read part of this years ago. It seemed like gibberish at the time, probably because I was in a cult, and this book is an eye-opener. I recently pickedRead part of this years ago. It seemed like gibberish at the time, probably because I was in a cult, and this book is an eye-opener. I recently picked up the audiobook, and spent a lot of time just walking around with my iPod so I could finish listening to it. ...more
In 2003, I walked away from my childhood religion – a high control (some would say abusive) group with a tiny little worldview and a severe superioritIn 2003, I walked away from my childhood religion – a high control (some would say abusive) group with a tiny little worldview and a severe superiority complex.
This was my reality:
I believed with all my being that the things depicted above were real, and were just over the event horizon.
Leaving meant losing almost every friend I had ever made since childhood, it created a rift with my still devout family, and quite possibly saved my life.
Is it any wonder that fiction – alternate realities, fantasy, and mental escape – helped me make that decision, helped me move on, and helped deprogram my cult-think? One fiction supplanted the other, only this time I already knew I was working with stories.
Some of this fiction I had read many times, not understanding why the stories resonated so strongly within me, just knowing that I was compelled to return to those worlds, over and over. Others were stories I read during the time surrounding my breakaway, and shortly thereafter.*
American Gods made me observe and think differently. It gave me a new context for the mythologies I had accepted for most of my life. It was bigger than the story of Shadow, or the girl Sam, or Czernabog. For me, it was about how we allow our Old Gods to define our present worldview, and how we allow our New Gods to steal our awareness. Our mythologies set the boundaries of our culture, and paradoxically, as our culture changes, our gods sacrifice their immortality.
"Religions are, by definition, metaphors, after all: God is a dream, a hope, a woman, an ironist, a father, a city, a house of many rooms, a watchmaker who left his prize chronometer in the desert, someone who loves you--even, perhaps, against all evidence, a celestial being whose only interest is to make sure your football team, army, business, or marriage thrives, prospers, and triumphs over all opposition."
The part of the story that affected me the most profoundly was the story of Hinzelmann and Lakeside. The mixing of good and evil, the blurring of lines, townspeople looking the other way – to such a degree that it never occurs to them to see what is happening right under their noses. Dead men's bones. Deaths of legends. It affected me to my core. During the time I was reading American Gods, it was this which rocked me – I was doing the same thing – choosing and keeping and killing my own Gods, my own mythologies.
It was tremendously painful, made a little easier by having the opportunity to process it within the bounds of somebody else's story.
I've read quite a few reviews of this book saying that it was patchy in places, or it bogged down in the historical parts, the character not being belI've read quite a few reviews of this book saying that it was patchy in places, or it bogged down in the historical parts, the character not being believable in others, etc.
I have not read the novel, so perhaps this is true. As an audiobook however, it was magnificent. The story was compelling, the history inseparable from the development of Calliope, and the voice of the reader - Kristoffer Tabori - was genius. His character variations made an interesting concept into a fascinating narrative of a little girl who was born different.
Middlesex elbows its way into my top 5 favorite listens with her awkward limbs sticking out to both sides like a boy's, hips swaying like a girl's....more
I would love to re-read this, but sadly, I think the evil book gnomes might steal some of my stars if I attempted it. I read this when I was a kid, anI would love to re-read this, but sadly, I think the evil book gnomes might steal some of my stars if I attempted it. I read this when I was a kid, and thereafter saw the movie (the 1982 version with Jane Seymour.) By that time, I'd already learned my snobbish book ways, and thought the movie was atrocious and could never compare to the book. (The book I had read when I was only 9 or so. I wonder how much of it I just didn't get, being a child and all. Ha!)
But... some 18 years later I met and married a guy who tends to spout quotes from the movie version at unexpected moments - things about "fops," and "damned elusive Pimpernels...," he also having seen the movie at the impressionable age of not-quite-teenager.
So through the lens of my historical rose colored glasses, I remember the balls (not those kind! the ones with the fancy gowns and cucumber sandwiches!) and the horses, and the intrigue, and the fact that I checked it out from the library at least 3 times before a librarian thought to tell my mother it might not be appropriate reading material.