Warwick’s review of American Gods > Likes and Comments

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message 1: by Preyoshi (new)

Preyoshi Was a little disappointed with this one, probably because of all the hoopla surrounding it. Whats your verdict?


message 2: by Warwick (new)

Warwick Initial thoughts are that I agree with you, but I'm still processing a little.


message 3: by Xandra (new)

Xandra I feel like all his exciting ideas get drowned in his dull writing style. He's incredibly overrated.


message 4: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl What is going on here, what are they trying to prove?? I really don't understand it. I mean you'd never get "British Beauty", "French Psycho", would you? That just seems completely laughable.

I don't know the answer but when you find out, let us know.

I tried to read about 17 words from "The Ocean at the End of the Lane" and just barely managed. I don't get this author or his appeal, at all. I literally cannot imagine reading a whole page from one of his books.

Although I think I did read a picture book he wrote for the kids, I don't think I understood that one either.


message 5: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Fun fact: Cairo, IL is pronounced Kay-ro.


message 6: by nostalgebraist (last edited Sep 08, 2015 06:45PM) (new)

nostalgebraist To me Gaiman seems like one of those authors who got famous-for-being-famous pretty early on, and has been riding that train ever since. Since his subject matter, ever since Sandman, has involved things like "storytelling" and "the power of stories," he's acquired this sort of stature as a "story guy" who can go on the radio or give speaking tours and talk about how stories are powerful and so forth -- and the more he does this, the more he gives the impression of being this famous, celebrated author (otherwise why is he giving talks in his capacity as "Neil Gaiman, Story Man"?), which in turn gets his more press and speaking engagements, etc. Pretty soon the actual writing became secondary to the Celebrated Writer persona; he now spends his time being a Writer, rather than writing.

He's not actually bad, and I've enjoyed some of his stuff, but it always feels almost epiphenomenal, like it's mainly there to bolster "Neil Gaiman" the Persona.


message 7: by Lobstergirl (last edited Sep 08, 2015 06:53PM) (new)

Lobstergirl Lobstergirl wrote: "I don't know the answer but when you find out, let us know."

I have thought about this for 40 seconds and what I've come up with is:

1. Americans are basically narcissistic and like to see images of themselves everywhere.
2. Yet they are full of insecurities and like to be reminded that they are American, and different from the rest of the world, whether that difference is good or bad, it doesn't even matter. (See: American exceptionalism.)
3. Everything is about branding - and American is the brand. Slap the brand on the product.


message 8: by David (new)

David Schwan There are plenty of other works by Gaiman I really like this was not one of them. I've never understood the hype surrounding this book.


message 9: by Preyoshi (new)

Preyoshi Lobstergirl wrote: "What is going on here, what are they trying to prove?? I really don't understand it. I mean you'd never get "British Beauty", "French Psycho", would you? That just seems completely laughable.

I do..."


I actually quite liked Ocean at The End of The Lane, that was the first Gaiman i read. But i think i could have been biased by the fact that stories about childhood always appeal to me :)


message 10: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich Great review. Glad I've skipped this one then, Gaiman is cool but the Gaiman-adoring-fans turns me off a bit (Hipster quote of the day)


message 11: by Warwick (new)

Warwick OK, so lots of people agree with me, this is a nice experience! Thanks for the comments, interesting stuff. It's true that the hype doesn't help. I'm sure if I'd read this as an unknown author I would have got along with it okay.


message 12: by s.penkevich (new)

s.penkevich Warwick wrote: "OK, so lots of people agree with me, this is a nice experience! Thanks for the comments, interesting stuff. It's true that the hype doesn't help. I'm sure if I'd read this as an unknown author I wo..."

I've read a few things by him, particularly short stories, that were really cool, so I have faith but yea. I heard Tom Hanks was going to produce a mini-series of this, I wonder if that is still a thing


message 13: by Nicole (new)

Nicole "The problem is, these are the questions the book should have been about."

The fact that it's not is what makes this 'genre fiction' said in that derisive tone that people use when saying the words 'genre fiction'. (I think it was you who posed the question about what people mean when they say this in another thread, but perhaps I misremember.) I think you were expecting literature.

I think for me this is one of the big problems with fantasy and scifi--there is the opportunity to use the fictional world to get into real stuff in a sort of off-site sandbox kind of way, which is great if it happens. But often it just ends up being a weird escapist entertainment thing that tries to be bigger and more serious than it is. I think I'd even be fine with the escapist thing if it didn't pretend to mix in a whole heavy seriousness.

Plus this particular book uses bodily suffering as part of its entertainment, so I'm not wild about that. Though perhaps that means it is a little bit about jesus and america after all.


message 14: by Lela (new)

Lela I now understand the hitherto unknown reasons I've never read anything by Gaiman. Or, at least anything I remember.


message 15: by Dolors (new)

Dolors Pertinent reservations, Warwick. I understand this is a fantastic world, but you expect something else to chew on, right?


message 16: by Warwick (new)

Warwick @Nicole, well I'm not sure. I'd certainly hate to think that I can't enjoy some good escapist fiction. But I suppose either a book sucks you into its story, richly thematic or otherwise, or it doesn't. I don't think I was expecting great literature, I just wanted a meaningful story that I could suspend my disbelief over, but it somehow never worked.


message 17: by Fiona (new)

Fiona I'm slightly scared to pick this up again - I loved it when I read it a few years ago, but I recently came back around to Neverwhere and was significantly less whelmed on the second take.

You make good points, though. Maybe it's just one of those books that has to hit you at the right moment. If you've passed it, it's gone. (Frankly, I'm wondering if Gaiman's whole bibliography has to hit you at the right moment. Sounds painful.)


message 18: by Warwick (new)

Warwick Heheh. Yeah, maybe, it definitely feels like it's pitched at a younger age range. I feel like I would have loved it once. I feel like I should love it now, but the execution is just totally off for me. Although the setting and tone are completely different, I kept being reminded of a Terry Pratchett book called Small Gods I read yonks ago, which had a lot of the same ideas in it but worked rather better (I thought) on a satirical level.


message 19: by Nicole (new)

Nicole I enjoy some good escapist fiction as well. I think what I don't like is when escapist fiction pretends to great deep thinking when in fact it is nothing of the sort, though to be fair this isn't necessarily Gaiman so much as it is Gaiman readers, so perhaps I should backpedal some on that....

I do think that a book that really got into religion and religious culture in america in a meaningful way would be something more than escapist, would definitely fall into the serious lit box. I think there's no jesus in this book because it's just not that project.


message 20: by Jim (new)

Jim Warwik wrote: Anyway, I really didn't get this book. It made no sense to me at all. I mean it's a fun conceit, that gods are living among men in modern day America, desperate to regain the faith they once commanded, but I just felt like it wasn't thought through properly. It presents itself as being predicated on the idea that ‘America is a bad land for gods’ – this is something that characters keep saying to one another, moodily, that America is a really bad land for gods – and this is apparently why all the gods are now living hand-to-mouth existences as drifters or menial labourers.

Only – huh? Are we talking about the same America here? The one where 51 percent of the population think that humans were created by a divine being, and a further 40 percent think they were created by evolution which was set in motion by a divine being (leaving, as Tim Minchin said, a very small percentage of Americans who are right)? Is that the America that is supposed to be a bad land for gods? Do me a favour, it must be one of the most religious countries in the western world. I've driven through my share of rural Tennessee, where much of American Gods takes place, and one of the most striking things about these communities is the fact that there seems to be one church for every six or seven houses. God is invoked on the currency, on the news, by the head of state, and in schoolrooms every morning by little kids.


One thing to consider about religion in the US is that it is more of a commodity than an actual practice. The churches you see everywhere might as well be social clubs or sports teams, where one team is constantly talking trash about the other. If you look closely at all those kristians, I'll think you'll see that they break all of the commandments on a regular basis without giving a thought to how those offenses make them anything BUT religious. So with that perspective, I think America is indeed a lonely place for gods, including jesus...


message 21: by ·Karen· (new)

·Karen· Doesn't feel like a "squeezed in" review. Definitely didn't come out of a tube.


message 22: by Warwick (new)

Warwick ·Karen· wrote: "Doesn't feel like a "squeezed in" review. Definitely didn't come out of a tube."

Ha, thanks. Came out of a long day on the Tube, perhaps (I'm in London).


message 23: by Warwick (new)

Warwick Jim wrote: "Warwik wrote: Anyway, I really didn't get this book. It made no sense to me at all. I mean it's a fun conceit, that gods are living among men in modern day America, desperate to regain the faith th..."

Thanks Jim. Yeah, that's certainly something the book could have tried to explore a bit.


message 24: by Nandakishore (new)

Nandakishore Varma I absolutely loved this book. It is what got me hooked on Gaiman.


message 25: by Leigh (new)

Leigh Stuart I'm going to admit, very quietly, that I was rather underwhelmed by Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch, which was a lot of fun but not much substance. There, I said it!
Both books are perfectly enjoyable and breezy reads.


message 26: by Warwick (new)

Warwick Yeah I didn't care much for Good Omens either, although I'd always been a big Pratchett fan.


message 27: by Brian (new)

Brian Thanks for writing the review I could never bring myself to pen - I'll now send all my friends who loved this book a link here.

I also think my reading of this suffered coming completely coincidentally after The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. Now that's how you write about those gods.


message 28: by Jibran (new)

Jibran So the American Gods does't have many American Gods in it, not to mention the most important current Gods. What an omission. Unpardonable.

As to American obsession with prefixing everything with the name of their country, I have discovered that two types of people do that. Those unsure of their identity and place in the world (think how everything in Scotland starts with Scottish this or that); and those who are too sure of their place in the world that they flaunt it like a human right.


message 29: by Samadrita (new)

Samadrita Jibran wrote: "...those who are too sure of their place in the world that they flaunt it like a human right. "

So well put, Jibran. I was about to say something along these lines as well. Only in America could kids be given surnames of ex Presidents as first names - Lincoln, Reagan, Kennedy etc etc. This level of self obsession is rarely seen in any other culture/nation.

Wonderful critical review, Warwick.


message 30: by Warwick (new)

Warwick I do love Lincoln as a girl's name. But then I lived in the actual city of Lincoln for ages, so it's nothing to do with presidents for me :)


notgettingenough Re tagging so much 'American'. I have always wondered why Americans say 'Paris, France' and 'London, England'. I mean, who does that outside the US?


message 32: by Frank (new)

Frank Gaiman is just amusing and fun to read. Anyone looking for more suffers from genre confusion.


message 33: by Warwick (new)

Warwick Well, it depends on what you find fun, doesn't it. If the set up is too incoherent or inconsistent then it does get in the way, nothing to do with genre.


message 34: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Samadrita wrote: "Only in America could kids be given surnames of ex Presidents as first names - Lincoln, Reagan, Kennedy etc etc. This level of self obsession is rarely seen in any other culture/nation."

Not sure I buy this...I'm also not sure this is really self-obsession as much as honoring some kind of unattainable, aspirational other, a tad similar to how Kenyan parents were naming their kids Obama, Malia, and AirForceOne after his visit there.

Also I know several American kids named after Winston Churchill...


message 35: by Gail (new)

Gail Winfree Rob wrote: "To me Gaiman seems like one of those authors who got famous-for-being-famous pretty early on, and has been riding that train ever since. Since his subject matter, ever since Sandman, has involved ..."

Rob, glad to hear someone saying this. Thanks.


message 36: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Fitzgerald I knew Gaimen only as "that popular author I've never read." Except accidentally, sort of, when I read Good Omens (which he co-wrote with Terry Practhett.) This was my first full-on Gaimen novel, and I read it mostly because I had seen it in book stories and guessed it'd be as good a place to start as any. So I was somewhat inoculated to the hype, but I still find your 2-star review to be spot on.


message 37: by Asghar (new)

Asghar Abbas I love Gaiman but I love this review even more :) I think of him as someone in love with books, more a reader than anything else.


message 38: by Dasha (new)

Dasha Bruh, it's 'cause the US of A is the center of the world, dude! Didn't ya know?


message 39: by Elisabeth (new)

Elisabeth I don't know if this is a good answer, but I really liked your review so now I wanna comment ;).
Here's the way I see it. America is a land of transcience. Nothing about it seems to be set in stone, or real even. And that's a scary thought. So Americans like to scream they're American at the top of their lungs, cause god forbid they have to deal with their lack of identity. And I sorta feel that's also the point of the book?? The constant need to keep moving. If not physically then mentally or more specifically religiously. Gaiman added a chapter of the first people coming to America and they were on the run. Much as most Europeans were who came to America, and staked their claim by commiting mass murder. And yes America is hella religious, but for who. God yes, maybe, but whose god. Which god. The methodist one? The baptist one? The mormon one? But instead of focusing on that mess of Jesus/God worshipping Gaiman did what mythology tends to do... he wrote a story. About what happens to your identity (gods) when the thing you consider your roots are no longer in your life and what a headfuck it is to deal with. That's how I read the book at least. Also I have been obsessed with mythology and the good ol' U S of A for a long time so this book was kind of a perfect read for me :D.


message 40: by Elisabeth (new)

Elisabeth @notgettingenough Americans do that because there is an actual Paris, America and London, America ;). So ya know, they gotta clearify.


message 41: by Warwick (new)

Warwick But instead of focusing on that mess of Jesus/God worshipping Gaiman did what mythology tends to do... he wrote a story.

Well, maybe. Personally I wished he had focused on the Jesus/God thing, or at least included it in SOME way. But I like your analysis.


message 42: by Christine (new)

Christine Zibas Enjoyed your review. This is a book many people have encouraged me to read and I even got a used copy, but haven't managed to tackle it. I still plan to read it, but will be prepared to be underwhelmed.


message 43: by Gabriela (new)

Gabriela It's a great review, and I haven't thought of it that way, but I guess the book gave me the feeling that America was bad for gods as in.. pagan gods? All those they mention, they're definitely not those seen in Tenessee churches (norse gods, and leprechauns).


message 44: by Xerxes (new)

Xerxes @Warwick. I had the same questions as you while I was reading it, regarding where Jesus was during all this. However, I finished this book last night and came up with this theory:

Shadow is the Jesus character – the modern American incarnation of him. He’s a few centuries younger than the Old Gods. He's the son of a virgin impregnated by a god (since Wednesday only beds virgins). He was hung up, stabbed with a spear, died, had his “Easter resurrection” and returned as sort of a saviour. Heck, he even had his "I am thirsty!" moment while he was up there.

He's also in his early 30s when he's ripped away from the life he knows, in order to serve some higher divine purpose.

Now, on to America and Christianity. As you rightly stated, Christianity has a firm hold on a large chunk of America. But, the people’s devotion is to Christ, not to God, and many aren't able to differentiate one from the other. So, from a certain point of view, it’s the cult of man that has flourished in America, not the cult of God. Similarly, Shadow is the only being the Land is receptive to. The only being it appears to and tries to aid. It propagates the man while ignoring the gods, because, after all, America is not a good land for gods.

Anyway, that’s just my theory. If American Gods 2 features people hating on homosexuals and abortions in the name of Shadow, I’ll know I’m on to something.


message 45: by Warwick (new)

Warwick Ha! Well it seems like a good working theory to me.


message 46: by Jackie (new)

Jackie This book was a giant snoozer for me. Christ is definitely Shadow. I think the author was quite ballless addressing American religion and belief. Even in fictional setting. Warwick, you're right. The US is incredibly religious. Especially in the south. Gutless writing. My eyes rolled around when it was announced they were making a tv show out of it.


message 47: by Warwick (new)

Warwick Yes, although as with a lot of Gaiman's writing, I feel like it might work quite well on the screen. My problem with a lot of his stories is that there's no special reason why they should be written down as opposed to watched on TV or (as is often the case) shown in comic strips – he's not really a very writerly writer. I want to like him because I admire that endless creativity and imagination he shows, but unfortunately it never seems to work for me in practice.


message 48: by Andi (new)

Andi This is great review, I really want to like Gaiman but have concluded I don't.


message 49: by Warwick (new)

Warwick Heh. Thanks Andi.


message 50: by David (new)

David American Gods was written by a Brit, so not sure how that fits into all of these brilliant theories about American titles


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