It’s Just a Two-Man Con

“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, and we resume our lives.”

– Neil Gaiman, American Gods

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Before I delve into the best-selling novel and new Starz series, American Gods that I put off reading for ages I wanted to address my long hiatus.  Over the past few years, a quarter life crisis has had me in its claws. I’ve been trying to figure out how to better my life and feel better about it. It’s been a struggle and I’m still not any closer to figuring anything out but I decided I want to continue doing the things I enjoy. First and foremost I love a good story, whether it be fiction or not, no matter the format a great story sucks me into a great new world.  Second I love learning new things and even old things, like history and writing. So I’m bringing myself back and hope you enjoy it.

Now I want to start with the fact that it took forever for me to even sit down and read this book. I was and still am under the belief that you either love Neil Gaiman or you hate Neil Gaiman. After finishing American Gods I still can’t decide how I feel about him, but I do know how I feel about this treasured novel.

Honestly, this book left my brain slightly melted. To begin with, the way Gaiman writes is a lot to take in. I kept feeling like I was missing a little detail that would be important later and then I’d be left confused. Well, I still think that happened but I also think he did write this book very well. He covered so many different pantheons and even if it took me some time I still managed to figure out where these deities or figures came from. It sparked my interest in other myths, aside from my current love for Greek and Roman mythology. Gaiman covered parts of Egyptian myth, Native American lore and even the new-age worship of technology and tv. That’s the part I really enjoyed because he used these characters to make me think.

“Religions are, by definition, metaphors, after all: God is a dream, a hope, a woman, an ironist, a father, a city, a house of many rooms, a watchmaker who left his prize chronometer in the desert, someone who loves you – even, perhaps, against all evidence, a celestial being whose only interest is to make sure your football team, army, business, or marriage thrives, prospers and over all opposition.”

Before I go further in my review STOP NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT SPOILERS!

Now with that out of the way we can talk about the book itself. Our main character is Shadow, a guy with no real name and some very bad luck. When we meet Shadow he’s in prison on his way to being released. He ends up getting out even earlier due to the fact that his wife Laura was killed in a car accident with his best friend and potential employer. This tragic beginning is what leads him to meet Mr. Wednesday his new employer who drags him through a giant con to a war between the new gods and the old.

Shadow meets a leprechaun, who accidentally helps him bring back his dead wife, Czernobog, Mr. Nancy, both of which I still haven’t been able to figure out, Easter and so much more. He travels through planes of existence and has unreasonable dreams lead by a man in a buffalo skin. All the while taking all of this in stride, aside from the original breakdown of sobbing himself to sleep after seeing his dead wife for the first time. I spent most of the book wondering how the hell can he deal with all of this so calmly. He’s working for a shady grifter, is being hunted by strange men that actually come from government agencies or thoughts, like Media and Technology, all of his acquaintances seem to be connected and serve a purpose. I mean seriously this guy has nothing good going for him but he keeps moving along like it’s not really happening and making it seem like this is just how life goes.

News flash Shadow! This isn’t how things work. Normal life doesn’t consist of riding a carousel in the All Father’s mind, you aren’t meeting people like Sam Black Crow, a shaman in a previous life, and those strange disappearances in a small Wisconsin town you were ‘randomly’ left in, none of that was normal or a coincidence.  Your life is being directed by your shit father and possibly even the Norse Fates. Although his calm exterior did help me make it through the most thought-provoking pieces and the little blurbs of life advice.

Now I know my writing isn’t very thought-provoking, it’s vaguer as I’m trying to convey my mushy thoughts while trying to keep you as entertained as I was, but Gaiman does very well in dropping little bits of advice and ideas to really chew on.

The first little piece of life I took away was to ‘Let it all go.’ Now I know that this whole scene is Shadow having sex with a cat and it could just be her allowing him to get off but I take it more of him letting go of his past, the loss of his life in prison, his wife cheating on him with his best friend and dying in the process of blowing said friend, and getting ready for the future that’s ahead of him. I think that letting go of things is the best advice because as humans we hold on to so much and carry it with us until we’ve exhausted what strength we have and just give up on living both metaphorically and in some cases literally. Sometimes you have to let things go to carry on.

” I think I would rather be a man than a god. We don’t need anyone to believe in us. We just keep going anyhow. It’s what we do.”

Another idea that Gaiman made me chew on was that America is a bad place for gods. When you think about it, it could have been a place for the gods like any other country it had its original gods or deities but they were overshadowed by others coming in and destroying its native inhabitants and bring in their own gods and beliefs. So the country that America became turned into a place with no need for gods. It’s now a place where people live for themselves without thinking of anyone or the repercussions of their actions, where the advancement of science and technology is their belief. It’s the ‘land of dreams’ where there is so much diversity and so much progression towards something new that it can’t hold on to one idea or belief for too long. We are a culture built from the millions of little pieces of other cultures that still survive through the changing of the times.

Now I don’t really expect anyone to think this was a great review and opinion piece on this book because there are so many things that everyone can take from the book. Like before I started writing I looked at what people had to say on Goodreads and the questions they had. Like me, some felt like they were missing something. Others followed the lines of ‘I hate Neil Gaiman’ and ‘This was pointless or this character was pointless.’ Whatever their feelings people still picked up the book and read it and drew their own conclusions. I hope that I could do the same for you so that you pick up the book and see what I saw or see new things that I never thought of.

And you can also check out the new Starz series on Sundays at 8 PM EST.

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Until next time.

“Ideas are more difficult to kill than people, but they can be killed, in the end.”

– Neil Gaiman, American Gods

 

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~ by Sydney Erickson on May 27, 2017.

2 Responses to “It’s Just a Two-Man Con”

  1. oh gosh, the quarter life crisis is too real. I’m going through the same thing right now. Good to see you’re working some things out. I hope you don’t worry about your writing not being “thought provoking”– it seems like you use to it to work out/understand your thoughts. So it’s still good.
    I liked hearing your thoughts on the book.

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