Time to write a book review. Like BigDog, I don’t read bad books, or at least I immediately put it down once I realize it’s bad. The last book I put down? Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the West. But that is a trick question, because I only put it down due to the fact that it’s a huge book and the library fines started rolling in heavy. Who knew that a guy name Meri could be such a sweet adventuring dude? Well that’s another trick question because everyone knows Meriadoc Brandybuck was a sweet adventuring dude/hobbit.
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
I picked the book as I do every book, by closing my eyes and throwing darts at the Nebula Award winner list. I’m closing in on double digits there so I figure I might as well keep going. A sidenote is that the British born author wrote the creepy children’s novel Coraline that I recently enjoyed in the theater.
So anyway, the book follows a guy just released from jail and is heading to his home in the Midwest. He gets mixed up with some extraordinary strangers who persuade him to work for them. Slowly he learns that he is following several modern day versions of gods from the old countries and that there are many more like him. Mostly they are based on intermingled versions of gods from Norse, Greek, Far East and Native American types. The old gods don’t fare well in America but they never-the-less battle for souls and power in a modern country who would rather worship technology than He who controls thunder. When the modern gods of the media and technology decide to put an end to the old gods once and for all, each god must take a side because the a war that has been building in this country is nearing.
“They’ll win”, said Whiskey Jack flatly. “They won already. You lost already. Like the white man and my people. Mostly they won. And when they lost, they made treaties. Then they broke the treaties. So they won again. I’m not fighting for another lost cause.” Then he said, “Paul Bunyan.” he shood his head slowly and he said it again. “Paul Bunyan.”
“Paul Bunyan?” Shadow said. “What did he ever do?”
“He took up head space,” said Whiskey Jack. He bummed a cigarette from Wednesday and the two men sat and smoked.
“It’s like the idiots who figure that hummingbirds worry about their weight or tooth decay or some such nonsense, maybe they just want to spare hummingbirds the evils of sugar,” explained Wednesday. “So they fill the hummingbird feeders with fucking NutraSweet. The birds come to the feeders and they drink it. Then they die, because their food contains no calories even though their little tummies are full. That’s Paul Bunyan for you. Nobody ever told Paul Bunyan stories. Nobody ever believed in Paul Bunyan. He came staggering out of a New York ad agency in 1910 and filled the nation’s myth stomach with empty calories.” -pg 352
On the BigDog rating scale I give it a 5 to 8. Which I think means it is a 5 out of 10 for dificulty to read, and an 8 out of 10 for enjoyability. I gave it only a 5 for readability because while I kept it in my hand longer per day than any books I’ve read recently, it was 600 pages which I think puts it out of the sub 5 score range (let the record show this rating scale needs some refining). I gave it an 8 for enjoyability because it has most everything I enjoy in a book: gratuitous sex scenes, god on god violence, and a protagonist with a penchant for gloomy social commentary.