I’ve been wanting to write about this book for quite some time. Why didn’t I, you might ask?
The story begins in the year 2002, when I first read the book, not long after it was translated to Hebrew. The author, Neil Gaiman, I already knew from his masterpiece graphic novel series The Sandman that he wrote in the early 1990’s of the previous century, so I didn’t think much before I snatched the book from the shelves of the godforsaken bookstore I used to visit back in the days when I still lived in Jerusalem.
At the time I worked as a cook in one of the trendy restaurants of the renewing city. When I told the sous-chef of the restaurant about the book, he asked if I could lend it to him, and in my naivety, I agreed. Two years later, I left the city and he left the country, and somewhere inside I started realizing that I would probably never see the book again.
On that very day, I entered the nearest bookstore and joyfully bought the book that I enjoyed reading a few years back. I wasn’t disappointed. Ever since, I browsed it here and there, especially in hard days, when I couldn’t find anything to sweep me into its pages.
A few years passed, and my life turned upside down, but American Gods kept me company along the way. Then came a moment when I stood to the test again. A friend of my girlfriend came for a short visit and saw the book on the table, battered from excessive reading. Is it any good? She asked, and I answered earnestly that it is one of my all-time favorite books, listing the reasons in detail. After this introduction, I had no choice but lending her the book when she asked. I had her sworn that she would return it as soon as possible, and she promised that I’ll have it back in its safe place on my coffee table in a week, two weeks tops.
Needless to say that I never saw her or the book again.
During that time I’ve come to two major conclusions. First – I will never lend a book again. Second – I will never recommend American Gods. If you want to read it – read it. If you don’t want to read it – Don’t read it. Do whatever you like, as long as you leave your filthy hands off my copy of the book and buy one yourselves.
However, in short – the protagonist of the book, which is simply called Shadow, is released from prison after long three years. On his flight home, he is offered a job by a man that wouldn’t take no for an answer. When he observes the facts and he realizes that he has nothing to lose, he is taking the job and get drawn into a much weirder adventure than he had expected.
I could write a lot about Neil Gaiman’s tendency for dark modern fantasy stories. I could pour words on the page, littering them with ideas about Gaiman’s choice not to give his hero a real name and about his interpretation of the concept of gods. I could analyze this book back and forth, but I don’t feel like it. I’d rather continue enjoying it the way it is.
A masterpiece by the master of urban fantasy.
Five gold coins extracted from thin air.
American Gods / Neil Gaiman / William Morrow, Headline