Tuesday, July 7, 2015

American Gods

567724 tags: fantasy, mythology, science fiction, supernatural

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From GoodReads
American Gods is Neil Gaiman's best and most ambitious novel yet, a scary, strange, and hallucinogenic road-trip story wrapped around a deep examination of the American spirit. Gaiman tackles everything from the onslaught of the information age to the meaning of death, but he doesn't sacrifice the razor-sharp plotting and narrative style he's been delivering since his Sandman days.
Shadow gets out of prison early when his wife is killed in a car crash. At a loss, he takes up with a mysterious character called Wednesday, who is much more than he appears. In fact, Wednesday is an old god, once known as Odin the All-father, who is roaming America rounding up his forgotten fellows in preparation for an epic battle against the upstart deities of the Internet, credit cards, television, and all that is wired. Shadow agrees to help Wednesday, and they whirl through a psycho-spiritual storm that becomes all too real in its manifestations. For instance, Shadow's dead wife Laura keeps showing up, and not just as a ghost--the difficulty of their continuing relationship is by turns grim and darkly funny, just like the rest of the book.
Armed only with some coin tricks and a sense of purpose, Shadow travels through, around, and underneath the visible surface of things, digging up all the powerful myths Americans brought with them in their journeys to this land as well as the ones that were already here. Shadow's road story is the heart of the novel, and it's here that Gaiman offers up the details that make this such a cinematic book--the distinctly American foods and diversions, the bizarre roadside attractions, the decrepit gods reduced to shell games and prostitution. "This is a bad land for Gods," says Shadow.
More than a tourist in America, but not a native, Neil Gaiman offers an outside-in and inside-out perspective on the soul and spirituality of the country--our obsessions with money and power, our jumbled religious heritage and its societal outcomes, and the millennial decisions we face about what's real and what's not. --Therese Littleton
I read the novel just once when it first came out in 2001 back when the names Odin and Loki were not yet as widely popular as they are today, thanks to Marvel movies. I liked the book but somehow I never read it again. Recently, it was announced that a TV series will be produced based on the book and fans started listing down the actors whom they think will play the main characters the best.

I immediately looked for the book in my shelves to get reacquainted with the main characters Shadow, Wednesday, Mr. Nancy, and Shadow's undead wife Laura. I couldn't find it and remembered I never bought the book. I borrowed it from my daughter who was in High School at the time, and she of course brought it with her when she moved out of the house. Her copy along with a few Sandman graphic novels were signed by Neil Gaiman in 2004 when he came to the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. I remember the line was really loooong.

Anyway, our library has plenty of Kindle copies of the 10th Anniversary edition which has 119 pages more than the original first hardcover edition (465 pages). I can't really tell what the additions are.


Shadow: He is a big guy, very tall, 32 years old, has gray eyes, and straight dark hair. His ethnicity is never specified but someone in the novel asked if he's maybe part Hispanic, Indian, or black. Neil Gaiman in an interview said his mother is supposed to be black but I never sensed that in the book. Dwayne Johnson would have been okay if he were younger, at least in his late 30s but he's too old to play Shadow and has too much "presence", whereas Shadow is almost lifeless, bland, uninteresting person, a patsy, and as his name suggests, always in the shadow. Any actor who is shorter than 6 feet 2 inches is not qualified to play him IMHO. Fans' favorite is Jason Momoa and I somewhat agree.

Jason Momoa Jason Momoa

Wednesday (Odin): He is also very tall, has blue eyes. Stellan Skarsgard, 64 years old, 6 feet 3 inches  tall. Perfect.

Stellan Skarsgard Stellan Skarsgard

Mr. Nancy/Anansi: He is old but still sprightly and a jolly trickster, smallish in stature. 78 year old Garrett Morris is a comedian and the role will fit him to a tee. Neil Gaiman would love Morgan Freeman to play Mr. Nancy but I don't see Morgan Freeman full of energy and having fun playing tricks on Shadow. Morgan Freeman, IMHO is all wrong for the role.

Garrett Morris Garrett Morris

Laura: Shadow's dead/undead wife. Shadow accidentally brought her back from the dead and her character provides a lot of hilarious moments. Laura is a favorite of mine. She was able to get a job in a convenience store (graveyard shift, LOL) regardless of her grayish pallor, sunken eyes, and unusual odor. She was eventually fired when customers complained of her smell. The enemy's agent, Mr. Town, also didn't notice and fell in love with her. Olivia Wilde will be the perfect Laura.

Olivia Wilde Olivia Wilde

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