Neil Gaiman has written a beautiful, funny and meaningful tale of the possibilities of a meta-reality in modern America. He takes us on vibrant journey which weaves both past and present in a delicately observed story.
The story explores key questions of the nature of belief, providing us with a scenario in which our lived world is the product of our imagined/believed world. Here, reality is the product of mind, an idea attractive to all with psychological, spiritual or imaginative leanings !
It is, of course, a heavily multi-layered story, with apparent current meaning resting upon inferences of precedent meanings. I found myself going back in the book a few times to work out how, and why, certain events come into being.
Gaiman gives us many moments of ‘old world wisdom’, and many sagacious ways to look at our modern world. He provides us with a new lens for seeing the modern world, and as such a better appreciation of our times.
There is a cliche which bemoans the dawning of the ‘new delusionment’ of contemporary life, I think that Gaiman counterbalances delusion in one sphere with a growing belief in another area. I found this interesting for a fantasy novel, as rather than paint idealistic archetypes of the past he uses the past to understand today. It’s about evolution rather than conservation or techno-reactionism.
I find much modern realist-fantasy is at best solely devoid of any appreciation of possibilities of the basics of time space distanciation. At worst it is often a rather droll attempt to either replicate recent top-sellers. American Gods falls for neither of these traps, and is never even in danger of coming close to such errors.
There is an unforgettable moment of matriarchal power which will remain with many for a long time after reading the book !
American Gods was the first Neil Gaiman book that I have read, and after reading it I immediately bought The Ocean at the end of the lane, and I can’t wait to read it.
The book gave me much pause for thought as to why we now bring such strong belief systems to consumption, status, media and aesthetics. How and why did we lose belief in the beauty of honesty, connection and compassion. Or did we ?