– 2018/151 – 48 years of books (2004)

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

Gosh, where do I start with this one.  Ok, first… I almost didn’t read it and it nearly end up in a charity bag a few times..Firstly because i don’t why I bought this it.  Last year I had read another one of his, The Ocean at the end of the lane (bought mainly because of its title), and hadn’t liked it at all…  Secondly it’s a very long and I’m running out of time if I want to finish my quest by the end of the year…

BUT… what a crazy read!

According to Mr Gaiman himself there are various versions of this book.  The text of the one I read was published in 2004, but the original came out in 2001…

It reminded me of long reading days when I was a teenager and I would hide with the biggest book I could find and totally lose any sense of time and place.  I found it really easy to immerse myself into the story, the place and the characters.  It gave – to me – the same suspension from reality that one the long Stephen King’s novel gave me.  It’s not a horror book, but it has its ‘magical’ elements and it’s very gripping.

The premises of the story go like this:

IMG_6591.jpg

but this is just the surface… it’s soo much cooler than that… and it’s not an ‘easy’ book and the more you think about it the deeper it gets…

America if full of old world gods that have been brought over hundreds of years ago… gods that exist only if people believe in them, and people are stopping, and gods are disappearing and being replaced by new gods like television and media etc…  so the battle for people souls is on…  this is the underlay of the story…  it’s also a road trip book in the best tradition of road trip books (no need to mention Kerouac… but also it reminded me a little of ‘Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance’ in its tone or ‘Lila, en enquiry into morals’ although that was a boat journey).  It’s about middle town America and the middle of nowhere… it’s a little bit like an hallucinogenic trip, you lose track of what’s real and what’s not because it’s all real (or is it all not real? mmmhhh).  A little bit Disney fable, a little bit Tarantino movie…

It’s a battle of good and evil, about turning a blind eye, about love and redemption and doing the right thing or choosing the wrong side…

…  I’m not certain of anything any more.  It’s like one of those dreams that changes you.  You keep some of the dream forever, and know things down deep inside yourself, because it happened to you, but when you go looking for details they kind of just slip out of your head…

…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 triumphs over all opposition. Religions are places to stand and look and act, vantage points from which to view the world. So none of this is happening. Such things could not occur. Never a word of it is literally true…

… People populate the darkness; with ghosts, with gods, with electrons, with tales. People imagine and people believe: and it is that belief, that rock-solid belief, that makes things happen.

… He sat down on a grassy bank and looked at the city that surrounded him, and thought, one day we would have to go home.  And one day he would have to make a home to go back to.  He wondered whether home was a thing that happened to a place after a while, or if it was something that you found in the end, if you simply walked and waited and willed it long enough.

Absolutely fascinating.  If I’d read it as a teenager I would have become quite obsessed with it.

There are passages – the slightly more trippy/weird descriptions ones I wasn’t too keen about but I’d say 95% of it is absolutely brilliant.

 

 

The list so far

2018   Mr Hanckock and the mermaid

2017 – Magari domain resto (Lorenzo Maroni)

2016 – Upstream (Mary Oliver)

2015   –  Reasons to stay alive (Matt Haig)

2014 – Annihilation (Jeff VanderMeer)

2013 – Careless people (Sarah Churchwell)

2012 – Wonder (RJ Palacia)

2011 – The Paris Wife (Paula McLain)

2010

2009 – Let the great world spin (Colum McCann)

2008 – The White Tiger (Aravind Adiga)

2007

2006 –  The Road (Cormac McCarthy)

2005 – Never let me go (Kazuo Ishiguro)

2004 – American Gods (Nail Gainman)

2003

2002 – Everything is illuminated (Jonathan Safran Foer)

2001

2000 – Coram Boy (Jamila Gavin)

1999

1998

1997 – Paradise (Toni Morrison)

1996 – Wilfred and Eileen (Jonathan Smith)

1995

1994

1993

1992

1991- Regeneration (Pat Barker)

1990 – Darkness visible (William Styron)

1989 – Like water to chocolate (Laura Esquivel)

1988

1987 – Norwegian Wood (Haruki Murakami)

1986

1985­ – Oranges are not the only fruit (Jeanette Winterson)

1984  – Hotel du Lac (Anita Brookner)

1983 –  Heartburn (Nora Ephron)

1982  – The colour purple (Alice Walker)

1981

1980 – Emmeline (Judith Rossiter)

1979– The bloody chamber (Angela Carter)

1978

1977

1976

1975

1974

1973 –  the honorary consul (Graham Greene)

1972

1971  – Reunion (Fred Uhlman)

1970  – A slipping down life (Anne Tyler)

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