Thursday, May 11, 2017

American Gods -- Neil Gaiman

The American Gods TV series has already been renewed: "Based on Neil Gaiman's beloved novel of the same name, American Gods has earned more than five million multiplatform viewers for its first two episodes to date, . . ."  

This is the second time I've seen the book referred to as a "beloved novel."  I read it when it came out in paperback the first time, and I didn't care for it, much less love it.  I thought it was a "loose baggy monster" of a book, that it meandered and digressed and [SPOILER ALERT] that the "war of the gods" never arrived because the whole thing was a two-man con job [END SPOILER ALERT].  There's a lot of eating and talking and small-town life because Gaiman's writing about America, the soul of the country, the definition of the country, the immigrant experience, myth and reality, and so on.  That's a lot to put into a book, which partially accounts for its length. 

And speaking of length, I don't care for long books with small print, and the edition I read (pictured) is the "Author's Preferred Text," which means that Gaiman added 12,000 words to the book I'd already read.  Besides the novel itself, there are several introductory essays, appendices (including a chapter that didn't make it into the novel), and so on.  Well over 500 pages in all.

So why did I read it again?  To see if maybe I'd missed something the first time and to see if I wanted to watch the TV series.  Maybe I did miss something the first time, but if so, I didn't spot it the second time.  I still didn't care for the book (although I really like several of Gaiman's other books), I still think it's a loose baggy monster, and I still don't know why it's beloved.  Maybe I'm just a grumpy old man.  

I still can't decide about the TV series, either.  Since it's been renewed, what does that mean?  Will the first season complete the book, with the next one going beyond it?  The final chapter of the book clearly leaves room for that, but who'll do the writing?  Probably doesn't matter. 

I'm not sorry I read the book again, but it was a real slog to get through it, just like the first time.  I should've read Stardust again, instead.


14 comments:

pattinase (abbott) said...

Thanks for saving me from the series and the book. Slog is just what I don't need.

Bill Crider said...

But it's beloved by others, so don't take my word for it.

Cap'n Bob said...

You're not one to go out of his way to pan a book, Bill, so if you say it bites the moose, I believe you.

Rick Ollerman said...

I think Gaiman is hit or miss, sometimes because he thinks he's Neil Gaiman, and that, like Meliville, he's generally better at shorter lengths. As for the TV series, after "Deadwood" I'll watch Ian McShane as long as there's any chance in hell for a glimpse of the Al Swearingon magic.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

I remember liking the book but I read it when it first came out and don't remember it well. I do know I liked Anansi Boys and Neverwhere better. Am enjoying the show so far.

Bill Crider said...

I liked both of those, Steve, and in fact I've liked everything else I've read by Gaiman. That includes the Sandman graphic novels, too.

Mike D. said...

I've liked several other Neil Gaiman Books a lot, but I never could finish this book. I've tried three or four times to read it and it just doesn't hold my interest.

Jeffrey Meyerson said...

I liked it somewhat, but it was no Neverwhere or Stardust or Sandman.

I'm kind of enjoying the TV show, and McShane is always watchable.

Max Allan Collins said...

Gaiman misses me. I find him pretentious and twee, and he's on my Emperor's New Clothes list.

Emily Alyn said...
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Don Coffin said...

Bill, I'm with you...I couldn't get through it once (although I think it's still around somewhere). His Norse Mythology, however, is great.

Bill Crider said...

It's good to know I'm not alone in this. And I really liked the Norse mythology book, which has the virtue of being quite short.

FreeLiveFree said...

I felt the same way: liked everything by Gaiman but American Gods. Ananis Boys which is set in the same universe I really enjoyed, but not AG.

Mike Stamm said...

I liked AMERICAN GODS well enough, but it's far from my favorite, which is probably NEVERWHERE. I haven't seen any of the TV series episodes yet, so the verdict is still out on that approach.