American Gods: A Novel
One of the most talked-about books of the new millennium, American Gods is a kaleidoscopic journey deep into myth and across an American landscape at once eerily familiar and utterly alien. It is, quite simply, a contemporary masterpiece.
Page Count: 624
Publisher: Harper Perennial
Publication Date: 9/1/2003
Genres: Fantasy, Fiction,
Links: Amazon, Author Website,
Tags: dark, death, fantasy fiction, folklore, Goddesses, Gods, magic, mystery, myth, native american, Neil Gaiman, Odin, prison, religion, Shadow, spiritism, supernatural, Thor, urban fantasy, urban legend, war,
Characters: Shadow, Low Key Lyesmith (Shadow’s cellmate), Laura Moon (Shadow’s wife), Robbie Burton (Shadow’s best friend), Wednesday, Bilquis, Mad Sweeney, Audrey Burton (Robbie’s wife / Laura’s best friend), Fat Kid in Limo, Odin, Thor, Zorya Vechernyaya, Zorya Utrennyaya, Zorya Polunochnaya, Czernobog, Mr. Ibis, Essie Tregowan, Bartholomew, Josiah Horner, Captain Clarke, John Richardson, Anthony, Phyllida Richardson, Mr. Nancy, Ganesh, Whiskey Jack, Horus, Easter, Mr. Town, Mr. World, Macha (of the Morrigan), Bast, Anubis, Thoth, Marguerite, Leon (Marguerite’s son), Sam (Marguerite’s sister), Chad Mulligan, Mr. Hinzelmann, Alison McGovern, Mister Stone, Mister Wood, Mister Road, Jacquel, Ammet, Salim, Taxi Driver,
Plot: She is headed out to the grocery store and just meeting Shadow. She is telling them about her line of work and her sisters.
Quote: “…You see, I am the only one of us who brings in any money. The other two cannot make money fortune-telling. This is because they only tell the truth, and the truth is not what people want to hear. It is a bad thing, and it troubles people, so they do not come back. But I can lie to them, tell them what they want to hear…”
Memorable Quote 2
Quote: “In every town. Sometimes on every block. And about as significant, in this context, as dentists’ offices. No, in the USA, people still get the call, or some of them, and they feel themselves being called to from the transcendent void, and they respond to it by building a model out of beer bottles of somewhere they’ve never visited, or by erecting a gigantic bat house in some part of the country that bats have traditionally declined to visit. Roadside attractions: people feel themselves being pulled to places where, in other parts of the world, they would recognize that part of themselves that is truly transcendent, and buy a hot dog and walk around, feeling satisified on a level they cannot truly describe, and profoundly dissatisfied on a level beneath that.
Memorable Quote 3
Quote: “Let me tell you something…It can be a long time between meals. Someone offers you food, you say yes. I’m no longer young as I was, but I can tell you this, you never say no to the opportunity to piss, to eat, or to get half an hour’s shut-eye. You follow me?”
Memorable Quote 4
Plot: Mr. Ibis is writing a history story about a girl whose uncle sold her.
Quote: “No man, proclaimed Donne, is an island, and he was wrong. If we were not islands, we would be lost, drowned in each other’s tragedies. We are insulated (a word that means, literally, remember, made into an island) from the tragedy of others, by our island nature, and by the repetitive shape and form of the stories. The shape does not change: there was a human being who was born, lived and then, by some means or another, died. There. You may fill in the details from your own experience. As unoriginal as any other tale, as unique as any other life. Lives are snowflakes—forming patterns we have seen before, as like one another as peas in a pod (and have you ever looked at peas in a pod? I mean, really looked at them? There’s not a chance you’d mistake one for another, after a minute’s close inspection), but still unique.
Without individuals we see only numbers: a thousand dead, a hundred thousand dead, “casualties may rise to a million.” With individual stories, the statistics become people—but even that is a lie, for the people continue to suffer in numbers that themselves are numbing and meaningless. Look, see the child’s swollen, swollen belly, and the flies that crawl at the corners of his eyes, his skeletal limbs: will it make it easier for you to know his name, his age, his dreams, his fears? To see him from the inside? And if it does, are we not doing a disservice to his sister, who lies in the searing dust beside him, a distorted, distended caricature of a human child? And there, if we feel for them, are they now more important to us than a thousand other children touched by the same famine, a thousand other young lives who will soon be food for the flies’ own myriad squirming children.
We draw our lines around these moments of pain, and remain upon our islands, and they cannot hurt us. They are covered with a smooth, safe, nacreous layer to let them slip, pearllike, from our souls without real pain.
Fiction allows us to slide into these other heads, these other places, and look out through other eyes. And then in the tale we stop before we die, or we die vicariously and unharmed, and in the world beyond the tale we turn the page or close the book, aned we resume our lives.
A life that is, like any other, unlike any other.”
Memorable Quote 5
Quote: “Life as a commodity, people as possessions.”
Memorable Quote 6
Plot: Sam and Shadow leaving her sister’s house and she is wanting some answers…and he doesn’t think she’ll believe, so she tells him what she is willing to believe…
Quote: “I can believe things that are true and I can believe things that aren’t true and I can believe things where nobody knows if they’re true or not. I can believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny and Marilyn Monroe and the Beatles and Elvis and Mister Ed. Listen–I believe that people are perfectible, that knowledge is infinite, that the world is run by secret banking cartels and is visited by aliens on a regular basis, nice ones who look like wrinkledy lemurs and bad ones who mutilate cattle and want our water and our women. I believe that the future sucks and I believe that the future rocks and I believe that one day White Buffalo Woman is going to come back and kick everyone’s ass. I believe that all men are just overgrown boys with deep problems communicating and that the decline of good sex in America is coincident with the decline in drive-in movie theaters from state to state. I believe that all politicians are unprincipled crooks and I still believe that they are better than the alternative. I believe that California is going to sink into the sea when the big one comes, while Florida is going to dissolve into madness and alligators and toxic waste. I believe that antibacterial soap is destroying our resistance to dirt and disease so that one day we’ll all be wiped out by the common cold like the Martians in War of The Worlds. I believe that the greatest poets of the last century were Edith Sitwell and Don Marquis, that jade is dried dragon sperm, and that thousands of years ago in a former life I was a one-armed Siberian shaman. I believe that mankind’s destiny lies in the stars. I believe that candy really did taste better when I was a kid, that it’s aerodynamically impossible for a bumblebee to fly, that light is a wave and a particle, that there’s a cat in a box somewhere who’s alive and dead at the same time (although if they don’t ever open the box to feed it it’ll eventually just be two different kinds of dead), and that there are stars in the universe billions of years older than the universe itself. I believe in a personal god who cares about me and worries and oversees everything I do. I believe in an impersonal god who set the universe in motion and went off to hang with her girlfriends and doesn’t even know that I’m alive. I believe in an empty and godless universe of causal chaos, background noise, and sheer blind luck. I believe that anyone who says that sex is overrated just hasn’t done it properly. I believe that anyone who claims to know what’s going on will lie about the little things too. I believe in absolute honesty and sensible social lies too. I believe in a woman’s right to choose, a baby’s right to live, that while all human life is sacred there’s nothing wrong with the death penalty if you can trust the legal system implicitly, and that no one but a moron would ever trust the legal system. I believe that life is a game, that life is a cruel joke, and that life is what happens when you’re alive and that you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”
Memorable Quote 7
Plot: Shadow has to answer for all his life’s choices—good and bad.
Quote: “We do not always remember the things that do no credit to us. We justify them, cover them in bright lies or with the thick dust of forgetfulness. All of the things that Shadow had done in his life of which he was not proud, all the things he wished he had done otherwise or left undone, came at him then in a swirling storm of guilt and regret and shame, and he had nowhere to hide from them…Every lie he had ever told, every object he had stolen, every hurt he had inflicted on another person, all the little crimes and tiny murders that make up each day, each of these things and more were extracted and held up to the light…”