Friday, February 29, 2008

Close Encounters of the Gaiman Kind

I am currently on page 100 of American Gods, by Neil Gaiman. In my opinion, there is no better way to introduce this book to someone than chucking a copy at them and telling them to dive in.

This is the first book I've ever read of Neil Gaiman's. I've been very familiar with the author's name for years and had some of his books saved for possible future purchases on my Amazon Wish List. The content sounded right up my alley, as least in the fiction realm. Little did I know I would venture into Gaiman territory and lose myself in a swiftly spiraling, electric dream in the process.

There are some very unsettling moments in the book that you don't anticipate until they're upon you. Without giving away the story, for those of you who have yet to read it, I will say that one such instance involves a deadly wager made during a seemingly harmless game of checkers. Whew, yikes, I didn't see that coming. Talk about getting hit on the head! (little play on words that those of you who have read it will recognize)

I find it difficult to write reviews that are too in-depth. I don't want to influence the individual perception of a reader who comes to the first page, totally unaware of what to expect. It's like watching the movie The Sixth Sense and already knowing the ending. That would be a definite letdown. To experience that movie for the first time and not realize you are missing the little cues to the truth throughout the unfolding of the film is what it's all about.

The funny thing about me reading this book is that I'm not even remotely into fantasy fiction. But Gaiman sucks the reader in immediately, artfully, with a descriptively rich and yet unassuming use of language.

ODD SIDE NOTES: I picked up my copy of American Gods for less than five bucks at my local Daedalus bookstore since I'd always been curious. Sadly, the book then almost met an untimely demise as it sat in the back of my car, because we have no room for my literary outgrowth in our dinky one-bedroom apartment. The wetness trickling down from a snow shovel haphazardly tossed onto the rear floorboard of my car seeped into and throughout my book, rendering it a sopping mess. With hope, I placed it vertically on my dresser, pages spread, where it sat for weeks until it finally dried. Of course, now consisting of mostly warped pages, it's twice as thick and unwieldy as it should be. Otherwise, the words are thankfully intact.

After having become entranced by the stature of Gaiman's writing, I feel sorry I never made the time to read my copy of his novel Neverwhere. Unfortunately, It had to go, along with thousands of others in a collection I was forced to abandon to a friend in Wyoming. There was no way to ship that many by mail or afford to move cross-country anything I couldn't stuff into my already overloaded-to-the-gills Grand Am. Losing those books was quite the heartbreak. I had carefully hand-selected the perfect books that I would "one day" find time to read. Can you imagine?

There are worse compulsions, I guess.


Neil Gaiman's web site

For those of you who don't mind reading in e-book format, I just happened to discover today (synchronicity afoot?) that Neil Gaiman's web site yesterday began to host a link to a FREE copy of American Gods. It will be up through March 28 and appears to just be a version to be read online and not downloaded (although I'm sure crafty people out there will find a way). The book can also be accessed via the image of its cover on the sidebar of my blog.


Dinosaur Mom said...

It's a good book. The next one in the series is not as good but still enjoyable. The funniest book ever written is "Good Omens" by Gaiman and Terry Prachett (sp?), which makes me weep with laughter.

Rebecca said...

Alright! I'm sold. It is going on my wish list! Thank you!