"American Gods" is a story of family, love, war and mysteries. It is an unique tale of coin tricks, prisons, disappearings and death. But most of all, it is a book about immigration, cultural values, mythology and identity.
What perhaps seems like absurd nonsense in the beginning, is really Gaiman's portrayal of America as the big cultural melting-pot and meeting point. With a beautiful imagery, Gaiman actually describes what it means to come to America - and to leave one's national heritage behind. And he does it so fluently and elegant, that you will fall in love with his words.
“and then he looked her full in the face, and her heart leapt and sank, as the eyes the dangerous blue of the summer sky before a storm gazed back into hers.
This book is an astonishing work of details with well-crafted and carefully executed descriptions, and an odd mixture of reality, mythology and fantasy. The sweet taste of Odin's mead will leave tickling sensations on the tip of your tongue, the world's largest carousel will move around in circles before your very eyes, and the icy cold atmosphere of Lakeside will freeze you to death.
The main plot is often interrupted by fragments and pieces of mythology, or seemingly unconnected immigrant stories - vivid portrayals of the culture and the beliefs that America has swallowed up as a whole. As the plot slowly unfolds, you will learn that they in fact are the true heart of Gaiman's story.
“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.
I adore the creation of the little town called Lakeside. So beautiful, peaceful and idyllic on the surface - and utterly chaotic underneath. Populated with people that lives in confined little bubbles of happiness, and close their eyes to the haunting reality. That part of the book was almost gothic - there is nothing as truly terrifying as numbed human beings, out of touch with their emotions and their sense of right and wrong.
Gaiman's book is about gods and ordinary people, murder and mythology - tightly interwoven with stories of tragic human fates, and the tale of a city where ignorance is bliss. Seemingly unconnected dots of unpredictable events, that joins together as a beautiful whole - and not only portray Americans, but also the individuals who have been absorbed and swallowed in the American culture.
I have not quite decided how to rate this book yet - I am hesitating, debating whether it is worthy of 3 or 4 stars. It was hard for me to get into, and heavy for me to read. I had absolutely no idea where it would take me - and while it certainly was interesting and surprising, it was frustrating as well. This is such a hard book to read, because it contains so much wisdom and careful consideration. Every single word is important and essential to the story - and sometimes I lost my focus a bit.
I will probably change the rating the first thing tomorrow morning - but I will need to sleep on it in order to decide.
“There are stories that are true, in which each individual's tale is unique and tragic, and the worst of the tragedy is that we have heard it before, and we cannot allow ourselves to feel it to deeply. We build a shell around it like an oyster dealing with a painful particle of grit, coating it with smooth pearl layers in order to cope. This is how we walk and talk and function, day in, day out, immune to others' pain and loss. If it were to touch us it would cripple us or make saints of us; but, for the most part, it does not touch us. We cannot allow it to.