Book of the Week #19: [Guest Post]

American Gods

by Neil Gaiman

Neha:

Well, now that The Writer Guy has become excessively busy with the final countdown of the launch of his Arrkaya: Origins, it was only fair for The Editor Girl to take over…

And what more could she ask  for, than one of her nerdy friend demanding a space in the blog…

I am pretty sure all readers who do know him would undoubtedly agree with me when I stress on how big a literature nerd he is. I mean, any book I get excited about, he has already read it; any Literature Fest I want to visit, he is already going in it. Not only that, his immense love for DC Comics and Manga is purely evident as he has a tendency to sparkle when anybody talks about these, just like Alex Louis Armstrong.

And trust me, it took him less than twenty seconds to decide this was the book he wanted to, as he says, ramble on. And his apparent rambling has been very effective for me. I am surely reading this one, well after I finish the five I already have in my reading queue.

“By the way, I have hidden a super spoiler in this,” he says. “Just something I like to do… If you read the book, get in touch… I’ll tell you what it is…”

Let’s see if you can figure that out yourself…


Prasanna:

People populate the darkness; with ghosts, with gods, with electrons, with tales.

I solemnly swear that I’ll try to make this, as short as possible…

American Gods is not, in my very honest opinion, a book. It feels more akin to a meandering journey through the woods, in the dark, without a flashlight. Meaning that it is slow, suspenseful and the reader is very likely going to get lost. It is a byproduct of unique character development and a writer who has just let himself fully tap into the reservoirs of his considerable experience.

The plot is essentially this: When America was founded, it already was an amalgam of various cultures. When these people came, from different corners of the world, they brought something with them. (No, it wasn’t oppression; that came way later…) It was, quite simply, faith. And with faith came the manifestations, the Gods.

We follow two mysterious men, Mr. Wednesday, an expert grifter, and Shadow Moon, a recently released convict, on a strange journey meeting many such forgotten Gods, to unite against the new Gods (Media, Information, and such) borne out of our decadence, social and spiritual .

I read American Gods, at a very strange time, I had just finished the third year of engineering. And this meant that a break was due; trust me, the stress of an examination can only be countered by an amazing book. So when my family and I left for a 10 day trip to Manali, and other nearby scenic landscapes, I started thinking about what to read on this trip. When suddenly Neil Gaiman’s voice whispered in the back my head. “One of my amazingly written, award winning, dream-like books”, he said. And that was it.

I, in my literature nerdiness, read the Tenth Anniversary Edition. Because it features, among other things, the original untrimmed text of Gaiman. What this means for you, is that it’s even more meandering than the original. By the way, that Manali trip was one of the best trips, of my life. Why, you ask? Because I fell sick, and then, to the utter dismay of my parents, used the better of my trip reading, instead of sightseeing. Unbridled joy.

WARNING: Very mild, non life threatening, almost negligible SPOILERS ahead.

What makes this book amazing isn’t what the author says, but rather, what he doesn’t. When we initially are introduced to the characters, we know very little about their motivations. This puts us in a very alien point of view. Gaiman by masterfully keeping the reader, rather distanced from the characters (emotionally) makes the reader feel alienated. The exception being Shadow Moon, the protagonist, by making the reader feel sorry for Shadow early on, the reader literally feels his discomfort. When, he is thrust into this strange and scary world, we fear for him. Using these circumstances, Gaiman, makes the novel about the isolated immigrant, arriving in America.

Thus, as you follow the dynamic duo of the novel, you are put into a place where a strange and detached culture is predominant (the new Gods), and you feel the pangs and toils, of the forgotten cultures (the old Gods). Which is why you are left spellbound, as Gaiman masterfully peels, layers after layers off his myriad characters.

Read the book in an uninterrupted binge, or in multiple short readings, in a place where you won’t be disturbed, or in a Mumbai local (Ninth Circle of Hell), it is entirely up to you. You will probably be dazed for a long time after finishing it, maybe. But the beauty, the true core of the book will only become available to you, by reading it multiple times. Some subtleties in all probability, might escape you. And those subtleties are where, you will truly start appreciating the doozy, that American Gods is.

Mischief Managed…

Also many thanks to The Writer Guy and, The Editor Girl for letting me ramble (extensively) on their blog…


Yashas:

Well, it is always fun when self-confessed nerds gang up against the world…

Still, three guest posts in as many weeks? Where, and why, is the Writer Guy slacking off, one might wonder.

Fear not, mon chérie… I am simply upto something fairly crazy…

Anyway, you can find American Gods here:

So, that is all for today.

Thank you.

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vacreed

Aspiring Writer, Engineering student and Tolstoy fan

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