I’m celebrating my Cinco de Mayo by reading Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, and if the number of followers of @1B1T2010 is accurate, so are 5,438 other people around the globe. I know the point of this is to read and comment on Twitter using the hashtag #1b1t (though there’s debate about dividing into chapters—e.g. #1b1t1c for chapter one), but this blog is a timeline of books and stories I’ve read (or they read, according to its title). What better to document than what people across the globe are actually reading at once?
I never would have picked up this book if it wasn’t for this project. I’m excited for that alone. I already knew that Shadow’s wife would die before the story got underway—it’s on the back cover, calm down—so I spent the first chapter with a mental commentary on all of Shadow’s hopes for his release from prison. He plans to bathe and spend days in the bedroom with his wife, Laura. Oh no you won’t, I thought. Shadow is released from prison a couple days early, the same day he learns that Laura was killed in a car accident, but he doesn’t show any emotion until well into the third chapter. Is this supposed to paint him as emotionally inept or simply hardened by the “past” alluded to on the back cover (those things are worse than trailers, speaking of spoiler alerts)? Whatever this choice is supposed to elicit in the reader, I wasn’t as bothered by this as I might expect. Shadow’s flashbacks to their first date, filled with sensory description, and his resistance to commiserate with Audrey—the wife of his best friend, Robbie, with whom his wife had an affair while he was in prison—appease my need for some clue as to how he feels about the situation.
As I Read On
The book reads quickly, that is to say it moves fast; several major events happen, several locations are visited, and several characters are introduced. One particular section of the book, in chapter one, occurs “Somewhere In America” and includes a woman posing as a prostitute (and as a woman, for that matter) eating a client with her vagina. There is no context for the scene, and it reminded me of the moment from Men In Black II when the alien posing as a sexy female begins kissing a man before ingesting him. Like I said, I wouldn’t have picked this up on my own, but I’m glad I did, if only to see this scene come to fruition.
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