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American Gods

Thu, 02/25/2010 - 6:30am -- RJSpindle

American Gods Neil Gaiman

Rhiannon's Commentary:

Preface

I recommend reading “American Gods” by Neil Gaiman before reading this post. It’s not a very formal commentary like Joey does. I didn’t have the thought to mark what chapter I was on as I had these revelations, and they come very far into the book.

My Thoughts on the Book

Ok, I haven’t commentated on this book like I wanted to. I kept forgetting, because I was at work and reading during lunch instead of at home where I can turn to the computer at any moment. So, I didn’t comment on some woman swallowing a guy with her vagina, I didn’t comment on the random gay sex with a god, and I didn’t comment on the giant mechanical spider of doom on top of a pile of human bones. I didn’t get to talk about how awesome (girl) Sam is, even though she is barely in the story or how much Wednesday reminds me of a much more psychotic version of one of our characters.

But this? This I’ve got to comment on. Shadow, the main character of the book, just died. I stopped reading in order to write this, so I don’t know if he comes back in any capacity, but he BETTER! I just spent 484 pages completely wrapped up in this guy’s story, following along in his blank, unbelieving mind, wondering just when everything is going to make sense, and then he DIES! I seriously did not think he was going to die on the tree. I don’t really believe he’s dead, now. He can’t be. Okay, I’m going to pick the book back up again and I’ll get back to you on this.

OH NO! Laura is somehow alive (I feel like I’m talking about Twin Peaks…), ALIVE alive, not the dead alive, and she just got in a car with the guy that killed Shadow! I’ve been enjoying the book, but this is the first time I feel completely IN the story.

Oh yay, Shadow is back (sort of), but I don’t think he’s too happy about it! I suppose I don’t blame him, being hanged from a tree and all.

Um, Laura? I didn’t think I liked her too much, but I kind of like her style. She’s pretty badass for a semi-alive murderous bitch.

OH MY GOD, I think it was just last night that I thought of how terrifying it would be to fly on an animal’s back and then what happens? he flies on a thunderbird’s back and I WANT TO!

Neil Gaiman is a genius of epic proportions. And that’s not even sucking up!

Oh no, oh no, OH NO! And I liked Hinzelmann. Those poor kids :-(. At least Shadow saves the day.

Awwwwe, Sam’s phantom flowers.

Ah, I love that Shadow went to meet his death but that he was allowed to live.

Type O Negative ending

I am sorry for the "Type O Negative" ending (where things just cut off randomly)…but I am unable to form coherent trains of thought after finishing that EPIC book. I’m glad I read this during the early drafts of our series! Thanks, Neil Gaiman!

Also, I promise that though my posts end abruptly, our books will not.  I don't have a lot of time to devote to blogging at the moment, but it's fun to share when I get the chance :-)

Joey's Commentary:

First of all, his name is pronounced GAY-man.  I'm saying this more to remind myself than anyone else.  I always pronounce it G'EYE-man.

Second, I'm reading this book on my shiny new Nook!  So I may pepper this commentary with my reading experiences on the device as well.  I'm rather excited about BOTH the book and the nook.

Caveat, and Warning for Travelers

Gaiman just said what we WANT people to do in our books.  Our setting is very familiar to us, and we want people to seek out the various points in Lowell we highlight and exploit.  I'm glad he's taken liberties.  Of course, all authors (of fiction or otherwise) take liberties.  It's part of the game.

Part 01 | Shadows

Chapter 01

Totally NOT what I was expecting in any way, shape, or form.  I knew next to nothing going into this book.  A stray word from Rhiannon here and there.  I have yet to read HER commentary, but for the most part, I remained ignorant of the plot ... and I still am, in a way, because I'm not sure what's going on.

Shadow is out of jail for doing something mysterious.  He's being stocked by the strange Mr. Wednesday, "although given the weather, it might as well be Thursday, eh?"  Mr. Wednesday knows that Shadow's wife died in a car crash DAYS before Shadow got out of the clink.  Despite his being suspicious, I still have a feeling I'm going to love this character.  And last, but not the least mind boggling, this scary chick who eats people with her vagina.  Yeah, nice one there Gaiman.  You've fulfilled every "gay man's" worst nightmare, there.

Chapter 02

Rhiannon said something about liking the way Gaiman explains religion in this book.  I think I just got the start of it in the end of this chapter.  When that "kid" and his posse pick up Shadow after his wife's funeral.  "The new paradigm," have I heard THAT more than once in recent times.

I have a feeling this book is going to be REAL Neil Gaiman.  This is not a children's story.  Not in any way.  Teenager, maybe.  I'd allow it, but I can see a LOT of parents being too prudish to let their kids read this.  Luckily, I have two sisters who will allow me to influence the reading of my niblings.

Chapter 03

Creepy!  Both the dream of the museum of dead gods and Laura, Shadow's dead wife!

Interesting imagining of the immigration of gods!  I like it!  Must keep reading though.

Chapter 04

I'm still not sure what is going on in the story yet.  I don't know who is good, bad, or what the point is.  Let's see what I DO know.

[Rhiannon: I was thinking this through the whole book, but somehow it didn't irritate me that I didn't know.  I think it's because of Shadow's patience and ride-it-out attitude.  It was sort of zen being inside his head after being in my high speed nervous head all the time (and I don't even have HALF the worries Shadow does)]

I know that Shadow is working for Mr. Wednesday, and he's "going to be killed" (I put it in quotes, because I don't think it's really going to happen) by Czernobog.  Currently, they are in the latter's house with the three Zorya.

[Rhiannon: I didn't really think he was going to be killed either, but it was a weird gut feeling.  I knew Czernobog meant it, but I just figured Wednesday would weasel Shadow's way out of it.]

These "Coming to America" things are interesting, but I'm not sure what they're leading to yet.  Rhiannon was quite right to be confused in the beginning of this story.  There is a lot going on, but not a lot being revealed.

Chapter 05

CarouselFINALLY!  We get some MEAT in the story.  First Mr. Wednesday robs a bank in a way I never would have thought to--nor would be brave enough to try.  Then we get to the House on the Rock and to this carousel (which is genius), and we're suddenly before all the gods!  The next chapter is sure to explain a few things.

[Rhiannon: The carousel IS genius!  I want to go to Canobie Lake and try this!  Let's make a date this summer.  We can take Emily again!]

Chapter 06

Okay, so this is new gods against old gods, and Shadow's quest to bring his wife back to life.  Got it.  It took a hundred and twenty pages, but we got there!  Now let's see how he plans to DO it.

[Rhiannon: brilliant summary.  By the time I got there I kept thinking something else was supposed to happen other than those two things.  I was sort of right...]

Chapter 07

Ah, so THAT'S what gay sex with a "god" is like.  A djinn ... with fire cum.  As I was contemplating the possible fate of this character, Rhiannon informed me that he does appear in the book again.  Hrm.  So, what the point of these interludes after the chapter?  They are amusing, but distracting from the plot.  Maybe that's the point ... or maybe it WILL all come together.

[Rhiannon: I honestly don't remember if he shows up or not!  Do not quote me on that :-P]

Chapter 08

Hrm, so Mad Sweeney is dead.  The coin Laura has is important ... maybe that is why she has come back from the dead.  A LOT of people don't trust Mr. Wednesday.  For SOME reason, I still really like him.  I dunno.  First impressions are lasting.  He charmed me.  What can I say?

Where are they off to?  Maybe we'll get to find out what's going on in the next part. Haha!

[Rhiannon: Haha.  Hahahahaha.  Maybe!]

Part 02 | My Ansel

Chapter 09

Is Shadow meant to be a sacrifice of some kind? Or is he going to be Wednesday's new "junior partner?"  Both?

Poor Shadow.  I'm not sure bringing Laura back to life is a good idea.  I'm also afraid for his life ... and it has nothing to do with him getting his head bashed in.

Rhiannon is right; Sam IS cool! I hope nothing bad happens to her because she won't cooperate.

Chapter 10

LakeWhat a quaint little town Lakeside is.  This cold seems like the calm before the storm though.  It's too ... quiet.

Why can't Shadow keep that name in his mind?  Who are they going to see in Las Vagas?  It's still too quiet.

Is this mysterious guy in the charcoal suit "RAM?"  That would explain why no one remembers him ... except, somehow, Mr. Wednesday.  It can't be though.  He seems to be on the side of the "old gods."  Hrm.  Who could he be?

At the end of this chapter, I find myself, again, wondering what on EARTH is going on.  In a fun way though.  There are LOADS of possibilities.

Chapter 11

Okay, there is a LOT of pissing in this book.  Just sayin'.  And the gods can see Shadow's dreams?  What exactly IS Shadow?  This was a strange dream as well.  Did he call the thunderbirds?

I'm highly amused that the "Easter Bunny" is a large, voluptuous woman.

"'Scared my grandmother so much she nearly had kittens.'" HEEEEEEEEEEhehehehehe!

So ... a girl had "disappeared" every winter for the past couple of years?  Is this god related?  Is this WINTER god related?  Is Sophie just reading into things?"  I ask again, what is going on?

That interlude was sad.  The twins who never see each other again until death.  It was kinda long though ... *scratches his head as if he hadn't said that last part*

Chapter 12

I'm not sure who Whiskey Jack is supposed to be, but I think we'll see him again.  That "behind the scenes" stuff was weird/cool.  LOVED the "spider"/search-bott reference.

Okay, so does Marguerite know something?  What about her son, Sandy?

What's this?  Mulligan has a girl out of state now?

Hrm.  Who/What was calling to Laura then?  Mr. Wednesday?  A menace we have yet to meet fully?  That weird guy that Shadow kept "forgetting?"  Is HE Mr. World?

As much as I was skeezed out by Bilquis' man eating vagina, no one deserves to die like this. *Frown* I hope that tech-boy gets Shadow's fist up his @$$.

Sam is Marguerite's sister!  Whaaaat?

HAH! Laura got a job?  That's ... amazing.

Chapter 13

Mr. Wednesday is dead.  Odin, King of the Norse gods is dead.  He did say something about being brought back with enough attention.  Shadow is very good at focusing his attention on something he wants ... like the snowstorm he created.  Maybe Mr. Wednesday is counting on Shadow to "reimagine" him, and that's why Shadow got hired.

That interlude was like the suicide of a god.  Unless the gods were too young to know back in 14,000 B.C.

Part 03 | The Moment of the Storm

Chapter 14

Could this vigil have something to do with bringing Wednesday back?  What is "the center?"

The center of America.  Hrm.  Places that are the opposite of sacred, and the center is the lowest of the low.  DOESN'T sound good, people!

Yeah, sleeping in the same building with new gods in them seems like a bad idea under ANY circumstances!

Low Key is Loki ... ah, so DEATH is on the way!  Why is he on the BAD guys side?  He better be doing something covert ... or come around.  He seems like a nice enough guy.  What's this whole vigil business, and when is Shadow going to hop to it?

So Shadow will be tied to a tree for nine days.  Will Shadow actually die from this?  At least he's "comfortable?"  What?  Naked, tied to a tree?  Will Laura be around for any of this?  Will Laura EVER be brought back to life? Who killed Laura Palmer?

Chapter 15

What did that Elephant headed god just do?  This CAN'T be just a hallucination.

So Laura IS coming!  I like this squirrel.  Did she just spit out maggots?  And now Shadow is dead.  Hrm.

Chapter 16

What the ..?  He chooses NOTHING?  What does that mean?  Mr. Wednesday is his father?  He is the son of a god?  I thought Wednesday said gods (for the most part) shoot blanks?  Shadow must be an exception of some kind.  There's 120 pages left.  Shadow CAN'T be done and gone.

Chapter 17

Does that mean Laura is back to life?  What's with Town's clocks and why is Shadow bleeding?  I'm back to just being completely confused ... it's so interesting though.  I can't guess what might happen.

Easter is supposed to save the day?  I like Easter ... she's hawt.

Laura is in the car with Town ... I feel bad for Town.  And who was that that walked in on Mr. World at the end?  Who exactly IS Mr. World supposed to be?  Should I know at this point?  I mean, he's the leader of the new "gods," but is there any more to it?  His lips were sewn shut?  Why?  Gaiman is going a GREAT job at keeping me on my toes.

Chapter 18

Yeah, that's what sucks about dying.  You go and come back to life and have all the bumps and bruises to deal with.  Almost makes you wish you had just stayed dead.  Although, Whiskey Jack DID say they were coming after Shadow anyway.  Might as well get it over and done with.  C'mon.  Y'all KNEW he was coming  back!

Wait ... Easter blushed at Shadow's nakedness?  Shouldn't she, like, want to jump his bones?  Whatever happened to Wednesday's eye?  Was that still in with his clothes?

What. A. BITCH! Haha!  She killed him.  Laura freakin' killed him!  I mean, I was expecting it, but that was just ... the dog's bollocks!

*I* wanna ride a thunderbird ... an not vicariously through Shadow!

Holy shit, what?  Loki is Mr. World!  You know, I remember someone saying something about him "playing driver" but I didn't know what they were referring to, because Gaiman is a master at distraction!  Woo!  This is awesome!

Ah, well, he didn't come right out and say it was Loki like I thought he was going to.  He might as well have though.  Saying he was in prison with Shadow coupled with the whole driver bit earlier ... it's quite obvious now.  Unless I'm wrong, but I don't think so.

Since Laura's "life" isn't permanent, will the thunderbird Shadow is riding be able to help?  Does either of them want that at this point?  I don't think Shadow would want her back.  If I was Shadow, I wouldn't.  Oh!  Especially not if it means KILLING a thunderbird.  I don't like that at all!

Well, now ... I wasn't expecting that.  Laura killed Mr. World/Loki.  Spectacular.  Kinda turns me more in favor of her revival.  Only I don't want to have to MURDER and thunderbird.

"I was the sacrificial lamb." "No, you were the Judas Goat." <--That is humor.

Laura is gone for good.  As it should be.  I realized something here.  When Mad Sweeney is killed because Shadow snatched the wrong coin, I had a feeling it was Mr. Wednesday he was afraid of.  That makes sense now, because it was Laura (who Wednesday killed to get out of the way) who changed a LOT of what went down.

Part 04 | Epilogue: Something That the Dead Are Keeping Back

Chapter 19

What in the world did Shadow just realize?  What about Wednesday's eye?  Can that help bring him back?  I still want him back too.  He was a jerk, but I liked him.  He's just doing what he thought he had to do to survive ... er--get power as gods again.

P. S. I like how some chapters are very short, and others are EPIC!

Chapter 20

We found Alison, dead.  Who put her there?  Hinzelmann?  He's got to be some kind of god.  Why where the buffalo guy, thunderbird, and Whiskey Jack together?  Were the girls sacrifices to them?

Ah, sacrifices to Hinzelmann.  Makes sense.  At least he's gone now, and almost everything is wrapped up nice and neat.  I knew Mulligan was going to end up with Marguerite.

Well, there goes Sam and Shadow ending up together ... Sam has found herself another girl.

See, we knew Czernobog wouldn't kill Shadow!

Postscript

Great ending.  All loose ends tied, and the story has been a wild ride.  I could barely guess a thing in this story, and I liked that.  He kept me on my toes, threw major curveballs, but EVERYTHING made sense.  I think most fantasy lovers will appreciate this book.

Lastly, I totally forgot that I was supposed to be making comments about the Nook!  Haha.  The Nook disappeared to the story.  That's saying something about the story AND the device.  I love it.

© copyright 2007-2013 R. J. Spindle (R. Jones and J. Gagnon)

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