American Gods by Neil Gaiman

This is the second time I have read this book this year and the third time overall. Each and every time I have seen something new in it or got a new insight out of it. That is the mark of a great book.

The storyline is too complex to delve into a lot of detail but the basics are this: when immigrants came to America they brought their old ways of worship and belief with them from the old countries and continents they left (and the old gods came along for the ride and stayed). The new gods – the American gods – represent ideas that are culturally and uniquely American. The digital age, television, the great roadside attractions, the car and the freeway. A war seems to be brewing in which there will be a showdown between the new gods and the old.

But like all truly great works there are subtexts galore. Ideas about light and dark, good and evil, loyalty and betrayal. Ideas about life and death and the worlds between that we cannot see but that we feel and sometimes enter that hover on the periphery of our conscious life.

Ultimately it is also about belief and faith – do we have it? Did we ever really lose it? If we did how do we get it back?

In the course of reading the novel, I found out HBO is making the book into a new series. My shock and excitement were palpable. This will either be brilliant or a complete disaster. I am hoping HBO does it the justice it has done with the George RR Martin Game of Throne series. My sense is that since Gaiman is a fan of Martin’s work and saw how Thrones was handled that he was able to confidently sign off on the idea.

Loved it and will read it again and again and again.


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