American Gods

American Gods by Neil Geiman

This past Christmas, my Reddit Secret Santa gave me two books, along with a bunch of horrible Asian candies that I definitely hadn’t asked for. Both were by Neil Geiman, who is supposedly a very famous writer whom I’d never heard of. American Gods is already a TV show, and Good Omens is about to be a TV show. This is actually a genre that I rarely read – I can’t remember the last time I read a book that I’d put in the same category of action-oriented fiction set in America. Maybe Gone Girls, but they are so different that I don’t mentally connect the two.

1) “He watched people put down bags casually, observed wallets stuffed into back pockets, saw purses put down, unwatched, under chairs. That was when he realized he was no longer in prison.”

That was when I realized I was in America. Even in Singapore, I didn’t feel safe leaving my stuff in public.

2) “The Super-8 motel had gone, torn down: in its place was a Wendy’s. There were more stoplights, unfamiliar storefronts…. Left on Main Street. Past a new tattoo parlor and the Armed Forces Recruitment Center, then the Burger King, and, familiar and unchanged, Olsen’s Drug Store, and at last the yellow-brick facade of Wendell’s Funeral Parlor.”

The quintessential American town. Reminds me of when I’d build cities in Caesar the computer game. Build your wells, reservoirs, temples, warehouses. In modern day America, build your police stations, churches, post offices, Taco Bells.

3) “Shadow walked across the hall. His room was a duplicate of Wednesday’s room, down to the print of a bloody sunset on the wall above the bed. He ordered a cheese and meatball pizza, then he ran the bath, pouring all the motel’s little plastic bottles of shampoo into the water, making it foam.”

The author is amazing at depicting America, all the more impressive given he didn’t move from England until his 30s. This quote perfectly captures the essence of all Holiday Inns.

4) “‘This is the only country in the world that worries about what it is…. The rest of them know what they are. No one ever needs to go searching for the heart of Norway. Or looks for the soul of Mozambique. They know what they are.'” – Wednesday

Definitely a hyperbole but directionally correct.

5) “Another Town, pop. 300, home of the runner-up to the State Under-12s speed skating championship.”

This doesn’t beat the consolation runner-up trophy in a 4-team competition.

6) “‘I’m the idiot box. I’m the TV. I’m the all-seeing eye and the world of the cathode ray. I’m the boob tube. I’m the little shrine the family gathers to adore.'” – Lucy

In a vacuum, humanity must be way overindexing on TV time. What’s the evolutionary benefit?

7) “‘So, yeah, Jesus does pretty good over here. But I met a guy who said he saw him hitchhiking by the side of the road in Afghanistan and nobody was stopping to give him a ride. You know? It all depends on where you are.'” – Jacquel

Nice commentary on religion mixed in with “American gods.”

8) “Las Vegas has become a child’s picture book dream of a city – here a storybook castle, there a sphinx-flanked black pyramid beaming white light into the darkness as a landing beam for UFOs, and everywhere neon oracles and twisting screens predict happiness and good fortune, announce singers and comedians and magicians in residence or on their way, and the lights always flash and beckon and call.”

One day I may learn to like Las Vegas, but that day hasn’t come yet.

9) “‘San Francisco isn’t in the same country as Lakeside any more than New Orleans is in the same country as New York or Miami is in the same country as Minneapolis.'” – Wednesday 

Well the author did pick probably the 4 most unique cities in America. Most of the other ones look like carbon copies of one another.

10) “‘The exact center of America is a tiny run-down park, an empty church, a pile of stones, and a derelict hotel.'” – Mr. Nancy 

I looked this up, and it’s real. Added to the list.

I didn’t care much for the plot, especially all the stuff about coin tosses and magic. But I really enjoyed the commentary on America. It was never in your face, but I kept nodding my head every time the author described some aspect of the American identity down to its core. This book is far better for understanding America than all those nonfiction books out there.

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