American Gods by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I knew this was a modern classic before I read it, so I came in with very high expectations. A modern classic in the way that Jonathan Strange and The Time Traveler's Wife are. I never got as drawn into American Gods in the same way the other two sucked me in. And that is probably because while interesting, I find the basic premise to be a little weak. Thinking upon it, the mix of older more physically defined gods versus his modern gods which are abstract concepts (technology, the media) but given physical though symbolic manifestations didn't really work for me.
I am left with a lingering feeling that something was missing, which is why I gave it 4 not 5 stars. This may be because I read the 10th anniversary edition with "the author's preferred text". Maybe the original more edited version would have wrapped up before the sense of something missing kicked in.
As a European enamoured with America, Gaiman's take on the US is wonderful. It is very common for writers in that situation to be somewhat condescending and a bit smug (By "writers in that situation" I don't mean foreign writers, but writers in general who journal about some place foreign to them, even though it may be in their own city). Gaiman is never condescending or smug, even when the follies of a place are obvious. Gaiman finds the humor, humanity, and inner substance of the places he visited.
Gaiman's America has very little overlap with the America that I have visited and/or lived in my whole life. So a lot of the places in the USA he chronicled are foreign to me the American. The one place he wrote about that I actually have been to (so far) is actually in a foreign country. Oh the irony.
This is a great book, well written, interesting, and fun. Well worth a read and definitely worthy of being considered a modern classic.
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