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The Toybox

people for the conservation of limited amounts of indignation

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reading: american gods
children of dune - leto 1
Finally, finally reading American Gods by Neil Gaiman. It's been on my reading list for years, but I'm running into the same problem I did when I finally read Good Omens.

I really do not care about Shadow all that much. Everyone else is fascinating, and I'd rather be spending pretty much all my reading time with anyone else. OTOH, his style is amazing, and it's kind of what keeps me going.

This is probably not actually Gaiman's fault. This particular type of male protagonist just doesn't do much for me, mostly because--and I get at least in-text why he's like this, I think, and it makes sense--there's taking with equanimity what the universe throws at you and then there's whatever the hell he's doing. I'm not saying he needs to be genre-savvy, but there's not being genre-savvy, which is meta, granted, and then there's not being entirely sapient, which is now a serious question.

Also, not helping, right now they're talking about delicious food and it's almost lunch and none of this is an option today, dammit.

Posted at Dreamwidth: http://seperis.dreamwidth.org/965712.html. | You can reply here or there. | comment count unavailable comments

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I can't remember the time span the book takes place in, but for at least the first part he's kind of stumbling around in shock because of the whole thing where he just got out of prison and the life he was expecting to resume was eradicated out of the blue. He wasn't tracking well and all this mythological bullshit keeps happening and can't be doing anything good for his sense or reality.

(Have you read Anansi Boys yet? Same universe, total shift of mood.)

That one is next. My list has four I hope to finish by Monday.

I always felt that Shadow was just-emotionally disconnected for most of the book, which I thought was fair given what was going on at the beginning. I'll be interested to see how you feel about him after you finish. Anansi Boys is fabulous, as well.

This may not be an option, depending on your to-read list, but I also found that American Gods is one of those books that seriously improves upon several re-readings. In that sense, it's like Dune, for me. I keep discovering things I didn't pick up on previously. It's on my re-read yearly list for precisely that reason.

The fact I didn't care about Shadow is why I never got through American Gods. I just couldn't connect. I didn't have that problem with Good Omens, but American Gods I tried twice and then just decided forget it.

I had the same issue with American Gods and Shadow (though I can't think of any particularly passive characters in Good Omens, so you've lost me there) and I've heard from people who have read rather more Gaiman than me that he has a tendency to write his male protagonists in the Shadow vein. The Neverwhere protagonist certainly is.

But then my favourite Gaiman books are Coraline and The Graveyard Book, so I've decided to stick to the ones he aims at children...

I have to echo an earlier commenter when I say that I'd be interested to see how you feel about Shadow after you finish the book. I think he grows into himself - quite deliberately on Gaiman's part journeying from being a 'shadow' to more of a real boy, Pinnochio style.

The disclaimer being that I'm a big fan of American Gods, in no small part because of the richness of the supporting characters but also as a whole. I'm also a fan of Good Omens and Anansi Boys, although not so much Gaiman's short stories.

fwiw, I think Shadow's - lack of presence - is supposed to strike you as off. It's a, or maybe the, pivotal factor in what happens at the end.

I didn't have that problem with Good Omens, but Neverwhere's Richard hit exactly the same spot as Shadow. Hard to sympathize with, I spent the first half of those books moaning "why am I reading this?" and shouting at the unlikeable leads.

I don't know how or when it happens but somehow I have a likeable character conversion and suddenly I like them. It happens in almost every Gaiman book I've ever read. Maybe I love/hate his writing, but I suppose I just learned to trust his storytelling skills. =)

Edited at 2013-02-14 05:28 am (UTC)

Seconding the commenter who said there is a good backstory reason for Shadow to be as weird and disconnected as he is - as far as I remember the reason behind it is implied in AG but there's a short story called Monarch of the Glen in Gaiman's compilation book Fragile Things that expands on it & endeared Shadow to me a bit more.

I agree that other characters in AG are more interesting than Shadow though. I love Laura and her entire arc.

idk, I keep meaning to re-read American Gods but I get like fifty pages in and go welp that's enough for now! I liked Anansi Boys, kind of, but a couple of things about it bugged me and it's been so long since I read it now that my remembrance of it has faded into an indiscernible mush of "no thanks".

on the other hand, I really really really love Graveyard Book. it's possibly one of my favourite books, and I liked Coraline an awful lot too, so I'm thinking his kids' books are an unequivocal go for me and his adult stuff is a toss-up.

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