Night Music: Nowhere Man

September 6, 2015

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American and Not So American Gods

September 6, 2015

I recently completed Neil Gaiman’s “American Gods.” I read it mainly because it was kindly given to me by a good friend and because it had won so many awards.  I recall the excitement when it was first published, but I guess I was busy elsewhere at the time.

I enjoyed the first hundred pages or so, more or less. But the final 300-400 pages were a strain, endured purely because of the awards and an assumption based on the awards that somehow I was missing something. I don’t think I was, and I was very happy to get to the end.

The characters seem like cardboard stereotypes (as perhaps all gods should be?) and the plot seemed weak. Perhaps it was my fault for reading the author’s “preferred text” which added 12,000 words to the original book. My tendency is to read in huge gulps, finishing books in rapid time.  It took me a month to read “American Gods” because I was reluctant to pick it up again each time.

What it did do was to remind me of Tom Robbin’s “Jitterbug Perfume” wherein the old Hellenic god Pan travels in time and space while its mortal stars seek both immortality and the greatest perfume. I picked it up immediately after finishing “Gods” and gobbled it down in a couple of days.  Gaiman’s cold-chiseled text was replaced by Robbins’ rambunctious and very human prose. It was a lot like feeding on eggs Benedict after a diet of spider webs.

Of course, literature is highly subjective, so your mileage may vary.