Friday, September 12, 2003

Gaiman, Neil. American Gods. New York: HarperTorch, 2001. 588pp.

More hype, possibly another case of overhype. Gaiman's particular type of fantasy, the contemporary urban, gritty style, is actually not one I really care for that much. But, American Gods got such good reviews that I felt I needed to give it and Gaiman a try. Like more, I was very familiar with Gaiman from his comics days, as writer on Sandman and other series. I enjoyed Sandman, but not as much as Swamp Thing. I often thought it was needlessly, almost preciously, goth. You hate to use the word "cute" to describe goth stuff, but, yeah, it was often cute. So, expectations. Not that high. I kind of expected to enjoy the book at the beginning and grow bored with it about half way. Reality? I was actually quite impressed. It's a tough story about the failed gods of American spirituality which came over with successive waves of immigration. It's also about the new gods emerging: greed, commercialism, the whole nine yards. But, Gaiman doesn't judge or condemn. I think he has a lot of affection for the American idea, if perhaps some skepticism about its implementation. It rambles and wanders, but is filled with interesting characters and events -- they are gods, after all and their actions should be at least entertaining. Well worth a look, even if you don't think you'll like it.


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