Mark Reads ‘American Gods’: Chapter 1

In the first chapter of American Gods, Shadow serves three years in prison for armed robbery, but the real tragedy begins when he is let out a few days early and a man in a pale suits seems to take advantage of this. Also WHAT THE HOLY FUCK WAS THAT. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to start American Gods.

AUTHOR’S SUPER IMPORTANT NOTE: I forgot to state that I am reading the TENTH ANNIVERSARY EDITION of this book, not the original. 

After watching “The Doctor’s Wife,” that goddamn piece of beauty in the sixth series of Doctor Who, I knew that I was just missing out on life because I’d not read one single piece of literature from Neil Gaiman. Not a short story, a piece of prose, and certainly not a single one of his books. I read “The Problem With Susan” not long after LeakyCon, when three wonderful women I met all gushed at me that my hatred for how The Chronicles of Narnia series ended would be validated by Neil Gaiman and that is just a perfect thing to say to me to convince me to read something. Right??? RIGHT?

I liked doing a one-off book after The Hunger Games, and thought it would be a great pattern to get myself into. Plus, it allows me to explore things I might otherwise would have skipped. In this case, a whole lot of people have all-caps begged me to read this book, so why not? (They’ve also said the same for Good Omens, and I promise to do that one, too.)

Here’s what I knew about American Gods before I started it:

  • Neil Gaiman wrote it.

CLEARLY I AM WELL PREPARED FOR THIS BOOK, AM I RIGHT???? This means that ANY HINTS OF ANY KIND IN ANY WAY will probably spoil me. I have a 0% frame of reference for this book. NOTHING. I don’t even know if this book is weird or depressing or scary or anything so PLEASE DO NOT RUIN THIS FOR ME.



Shadow had done three years in prison.

Well, that’s one way to open your book. By the end of the chapter, it doesn’t seem like Shadow is a nickname for anything. This character is just named Shadow. And you are to accept that. Gaiman makes no attempt to give us much of the reasons behind why he served three years in jail beyond the armed robbery. I kind of like this because it’s so matter-of-fact. Shadow robbed someone. (At gunpoint, I assume?) He got caught. He served three years of a six year sentence. He makes no excuses for why he’s there, and instead, Gaiman chooses to focus on the routines that Shadow develops to get him through the three years he’s in jail.

I can tell that Shadow being in jail is merely the backdrop to set up this story, as Gaimin doesn’t spend that much time in this setting. We’re introduced to a small handful of characters in the process–Low Key, the Icemen, Sam Fetisher, to name a few–who flesh out this prison more with character than detail. Which I’m ultimately fine with, by the way; what happens after Shadow gets out of prison is more important to me. In that sense, the use of the prison sets up Shadow for tragedy: it’s where we meet his wife. It’s where he learns to be so stoic. It’s where he learns to survive on hope. Once you think about it, that is what fuels his three years in prison. He makes that list of the three things he will do once he gets out of prison, and all three of those things rely entirely on the concept of having hope for the future.

I was surprised that Gaiman wrote in the character of Laura in the way that he did. I suppose I’m so used to the trope using in fiction and in TV/movies that people don’t have loved ones waiting for them when they get out (or, they do, but then they find out they’ve ~moved on~) that my brain just went to that same place. But Laura loves Shadow. (The whole puppy thing was a bit too much for me because I love puppies and now I have the image of a straight couple calling each other “puppy” and putting their faces in each other’s crotches and you are ruining the word “puppy” and I am going to take that word back BOOK BE DAMNED.) There’s no exception to it. There’s no, “She loved him, BUT…” She just loves him, and by all appearances, she waited three years for him, going as far as to buy a flight for him to come home.

But then the storm begins to move in. I’m not sure the scene with Sam Fetisher acts as anything aside from introducing the mysterious dread that Shadow begins to feel. Initially, I thought Gaiman was describing something I’ve experienced whenever I have something exciting approaching. I’ll use my LeakyCon panel as an example. As the event got closer, my mind, which tends to fall on the side of cynicism more than anything else, began to wonder what was going to happen to make everything awful. It is a largely irrational way to think, but I can’t control my thoughts. It does mean that when things go well (like my panel did), I end up pleasantly surprised. But it becomes this sensation of oncoming doom, so a part of me just hoped that this was what would happen to Shadow. He’d discover that the “storm” that’s coming is merely his own doubt.

oh i am so unprepared.

I did like this part of Sam and Shadow’s conversation:

“It’s like…what do they call those things continents ride around on? Some kind of plates?”

“Tectonic plates?” Shadow hazarded.

“That’s it. Tectonic plates. It’s like when they go riding, when North America goes skidding into South America, you don’t want to be in the middle. You dig me?”

CALLING IT. THIS IS FORESHADOWING. I mean, he uses “America” twice and it’s referenced in the title of the book. So it’s just a matter of figuring out what this conflict is. And how Shadow’s going to be standing right in the middle of it. Because COME ON he totally is going to be right in the middle of it, isn’t he?

I don’t like Wilson. I don’t feel like I have to justify this, as Gaiman makes him really easy to hate. Relentless racist? CHECKING OUT OF CARING ABOUT HIM. Thankfully, seems I won’t have to care about him again.

They stood there in silence for a couple of minutes. Shadow tried to tell himself that everything was all right, that on Friday morning he’d be on the plane up to Eagle Point, but he did not believe it himself.

That feeling I had early? My hope that Shadow was merely doubting himself and that’s all there was to it? It ended right here. Why would the warden want to see Shadow right before it was time for him to be released? They don’t just hand out presents before you’re let out of prison. This can’t be good, and I hate agreeing with Shadow on this.

Unfortunately, this is what I should have done all along:

“You’ve served three years. You were due to be released on Friday.”

Were? Shadow felt his stomach lurch inside him. He wondered how much longer he was going to have to serve–another year? Two years? All three? All he said was, “Yes, sir.”

My mind ran through where this could take Shadow. I latched onto one idea: Shadow would have to stay, and Sam warning would have to do with something happening in the prison, and Sam would be shown to know more than he let on.

“Shadow, we’re going to be releasing you later this afternoon. You’ll be getting out a couple of days early.”

Oh. Oh. Oh, well that’s rather pleasant, isn’t it? That’s not a terrible thing. He’ll get to see Laura early!

“This came from the Johnson Memorial Hospital in Eagle Point…Your wife. She died in the early hours of this morning. It was an automobile accident. I’m sorry.”




This is how you START THIS BOOK? What the fuck? BUT. BUT. BUT. This is what he was waiting for! THIS IS WHAT HE WAS WAITING FOR.  WHAT IS GOING ON.

I will say that I really love what Gaiman does with this. He takes Shadow’s grief, bottles it up, and gives us a very dry narration to almost make us feel as if we are just as dead inside as he is. By narrating things o matter-of-factly, it feels as if we’re drifting out of that prison, into that yellow school bus, and onward to a bleak future. What does Shadow even have left?

His mind drifts, imagining other scenarios of his release, trying to figure out where his life can even go at this point. Which is a fine question, I think. Where does he live? Does he still have the job he’s promised? Is he going to fall into the same trap as Johnnie Larch and get thrown back in jail? (Oh my god that story. MY GOD.)

Even from this point, Gaiman sticks to this bleak motif, and I find sticking Shadow in this airport, dealing with his first e-ticket, worried that something will go horribly wrong again, to be some fantastic atmosphere building. Especially since everything just went wrong, it’s natural for him and for us to believe that this will continue. On top of that, he’s a stranger here, in both the literal and figurative sense, and without that possible connection to his wife, Shadow becomes lost. The airport is mystical to him, this entity that lacks any logic, that is out to get him, that’s full of variables that can all further ruin his life. He’s a stranger because the last three years of his life, the prison culture that he’d assimilated to in his own way makes him feel disparate from everything around them. In short, it’s a recipe for things to continue to go wrong.

But they don’t. Sure, there are delays and a few completely understandable bits of confusion, but things don’t become a disaster for Shadow. He calls his friend about the job he’s supposed to have and leaves a message, and he makes the mistake of listening to his wife’s answering machine. It puts him in an awful mood, but this seems to be the only thing that troubles him. (It’s all internal, which is important, I think.) He sleeps on the plane and no one bothers him. His dreams upset him, especially a rather cryptic dream about a creature with a buffalo’s head telling him about “change” and Shadow being “where the forgotten wait.” Yeah, what are you talking about buffalo head.

“If you are to survive, you must believe.”

Okay, hello foreshadowing that makes no sense to me WHAT DOES THIS MEAN.

Even after a particularly brutal bout of a storm, the plane lands safely, and despite missing a connecting flight, Shadow finds his way on to another plane. This complicated method to get aboard a plane to Eagle Point does have a purpose, though, and that’s to introduce us to Mr. Wednesday and to increase his inherent creepiness.

Oh, Mr. Wednesday. We are introduced to him in a way that made me think of so many examples of hopeless assholes in airports. I’ve flown a lot in the last three years, traveling for my last job and because I’ve reached a point where I can afford to go out of California. In those three years, it is without fail that I observed some of the most courtesy-lacking, entitled, shitbag pieces of poo that I have ever seen every time I flew. The man in first class who gives you that look to notify you that you run on his time? I’ve gotten that before when the handle on a piece of carry-on luggage broke and I took ten seconds to pass by him. I’m not a physically violent person and I can’t even remember the last time I laid hands on another person, but I wanted to rip his throat out at that very moment.

So you can imagine how hard I rolled my eyes when a man in a pale suit in first class gives Shadow a grin and points to his watch, reminding Shadow that he’s made this guy wait. Oh, fuck you, dude. So you can then imagine my reaction when Shadow’s seat is taken and he has to sit next to the very same guy in first class. OH, THIS IS GONNA BE REAL GOOD.

“You’re late,” said the man, and he grinned a huge grin with no warmth in it at all at.


“I said, you’re late.”

OH, SHADOW, RESIST THE URGE TO DESTROY HIM. YOU ARE ALMOST HOME. Thankfully, he does, despite that the man in the pale suit continues to be presumptive and rude to the flight attendant AND he makes a faux attempt at being concerned with Shadow making his flight.

“That was kind of you.”

The plane sat restlessly ont he ground, engines throbbing, aching to be off.

“Kind my ass,” said the man in the pale suit. “I’ve got a job for you, Shadow.”

I’M SORRY WHAT????? WHAT? Naturally, Shadow is just a bit upset with this concept. The man in the pale suit keeps insisting that Shadow ask him what job he means, but he resists. A legal job with good pay, benefits, ready for him immediately? YEAH, I THINK IT’S OKAY TO BE SUSPICIOUS. Shadow even points out the inherent impossibility that this man is supposed to be here: Shadow never intended to be on this plane in the first place. The death of his wife was the random life variable that set this all in motion, so how could this man be here in this capacity? How could he know about his wife? WHY DOES HE SPEAK IN CRYPTIC, AMBIGUOUS ANSWERS? Why does he say Shadow can be “King of America” and how is that even possible? WHY DOESN’T HE GET OFF THE PLANE? No, seriously, the flight attendant CLEARLY interacted with him, so it’s not like Shadow imagined it. WHAT THE FUCK?

I have a lot of questions, as you can see.

Shadow rents a car (to drive home? to go to another airport?) and I love that Gaiman drops us into the idea of American backroads so quickly. I think a lot of people who don’t live here can’t fathom how the US works, since our country is so impossibly large. Like…the idea that it takes DAYS to drive from one side of the country to another is unbelievable to most people, but that’s not the only element to it that could be perplexing. I’ve been to 38 of the 50 states, and there’s so much to it that isn’t near major cities, especially once you get to the seemingly endless expanse in the center. Jack’s Crocodile Bar? I’m sure it’s real. Maybe not called that, but it’s real. Somewhere in America, we have a bar owned by a man named Jack full of reptiles, and it’s off a small highway, hidden by arching trees, full of the same five locals and the occasional traveler.

And just when I’m enjoying this bit of Americana awesomeness:

There was a polite grunt from the urinal immediately to his right, although he had heard nobody come in.

The man in the pale suit was bigger standing than he had seemed sitting on the plane beside Shadow.


“So,” said Mr. Wednesday. “You’ve had time to think, Shadow. Do you want a job?”


Somewhere in America

Oh, you sly dog, Gaiman. We switch perspectives to focus on a slightly awkward scene between a sex worker and her client. It’s a bit weird at first, admittedly, both because I have no idea what this has to do with anything, and because there’s an unfortunate implication in the section about the man thinking this woman was also a man. (Okay, WE GET IT. Granted, this was written years ago, but let’s all just drop the boobs = women thing, okay?) Gaiman’s narration is also a bit more like third-preson present, as the paste tense is dropped. Why are we in this moment? What’s so significant about these two? Why switch to a more urgent style?

Because Bilquis asks the man to worship. And she doesn’t mean that figuratively, in a sexual sense, but literally. Of course, my brain goes to the message the buffalo head told Shadow in a dream. Why is belief so important at this point?

The man is a bit over-the-top and ridiculous with his worship, though I suppose it’s in-character and intentional. As I’m wondering what the hell the point of this is, the two continue going at it, becoming more and more aroused, until the man finally has an orgasm and….um….uh…..

He is inside her to the chest, and as he stares at this in disbelief and wonder she rests both hands upon his shoulders and puts gentle pressure on his body.

He slipslides further inside of her.





what is going on. what is happening. how. how can. i. i mean. what.

so. so this man. was just. and. um. WHAT THE FUCK DID I DECIDE TO READ

Bilquis answers the man’s phone after…consuming him? I don’t even know what to call that.

“Yeah?” she says. And then she says, “No, honey, he’s not here. He’s gone away.”

She turns the telephone off before she flops out of bed in the dark red room, then she stretches once more, and she closes her eyes, and she sleeps.

Oh, what have I got myself into?

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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263 Responses to Mark Reads ‘American Gods’: Chapter 1

  1. Ryan Lohner says:

    Well, I do have to warn you that Good Omens will be tricky to do in your chosen format. It doesn't really have chapters, and is just split into four huge chunks of pages based on what day the scenes take place on.

    This is exciting, as for the first time I'll actually be reading something along with you. I went through Harry Potter, His Dark Materials, A Song of Ice and Fire, Avatar, Battlestar Galactica, Doctor Who, and Firefly before you did (I didn't have much interest in the others, and Fringe doesn't really count as you're doing each episode as it airs), so this will be a neat experience to form my own first impression, and see how well it matches yours. And Good Omens is the only Gaiman book I've read, so I'm almost as blind regarding him as you.

    • flootzavut says:

      "Well, I do have to warn you that Good Omens will be tricky to do in your chosen format. It doesn't really have chapters, and is just split into four huge chunks of pages based on what day the scenes take place on."

      True, but maybe it could work like Infinite Jest? Putting page numbers up and not worrying too much about chapters? I think there are natural breaks in the action. It's one of my favourite EVAH books so I think it would be worth the effort! 🙂

      • arctic_hare says:

        There are, yeah. Most of Pratchett's books don't bother with chapters, and I like it that way – allows the story to flow in a way unlike anything else.

        • xpanasonicyouthx says:

          That's what I had planned, too, to read it like Infinite Jest and list the page numbers (or locations, for ereaders) so people could follow along.

          • flootzavut says:

            Sounds good 😀 Good Omens is great. The combination of Pratchett and Gaiman is one of my Favourite Things Ever… I always think Pratchett's later books remind me of the NG/TP combination, the first Pratchett books are fun but often silly – he got more thoughtful and better with age IMO!

            No complaints about you reading American Gods but I am sooooo looking forward to reading what you make of Good Omens!

            ETA: I don't know why it didn't occur to me before, but I reckon Pratchett's "Nation" would be great for MarkReads… anyone? Just has such a lot to say for itself, in one not that long book, and lots of interesting themes/thought provoking stuff to get the teeth into…

  2. Araniapriime says:


    (p.s. You gotta check out Gaiman's Sandman comix/graphic novels. Start from the beginning and your life will be changed forever. SRSLY.)

    • cait0716 says:

      I think Mark has said that he's doing Sandman after LotR. Not sure if that's still true. But I definitely agree that it must be done at some point.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I need to catch up on Sandman, seriously!

      The problem is there's just so much good stuff out there. Its ridiculous.

    • arctic_hare says:

      He's doing Sandman after LOTR! SO EXCITE. <3

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        SUPER EXCITE. I haven't picked the single book I'm doing after LOTR yet. SO MANY TO CHOOSE FROM.

        • nathanielessex says:

          i was going to suggest the sandman, but now i see i dont have to. unfortunately it means i have to wait til after LOTR, which love them but there are just so damn hard to read. i read the hobbit once and loved it, but then i had to read it again for my childrens literature class last semester, and couldnt get into it. i think it's because i only like reading when i choose to read something, not when i have to.

      • notemily says:


  3. cait0716 says:

    Yes! American Gods! I adore this book so much and for so many reasons. I can't wait to read this along with you.

    So let's just jump right in (because I actually re-read this again a couple of months ago and it's still fairly fresh in my mind). I love Shadow. He's one of my favorite literary characters because I just identify with him so much. And that's weird because he's a big, black man who just got out of prison and I'm an average-sized white girl who's never been in trouble with the law. But his character, how he handles things, just speaks to me. Part of me wants to be more like him, and part of me wants other people to be more like him. He's calm, and he doesn't make waves. He's polite without being a pushover. When the man taps his watch and he thinks "Yeah, I'm making you late. Let that be the least of your worries." I fall in love with him a bit. He's a go with the flow guy who learned some hard lessons and is in a spectacularly shitty situation. I just like that he never loses his cool, even in his internal monologue. Because he's able to assess situations (like with the prison guard) and understand when his actions would just make it worse.

    Also, how tragic for his wife to die days before they were reunited. It breaks my heart.

    You've also picked up on one of the other things I just love about this book: the realism. As fantastical as this book gets (the man tracking Shadow down, Bilquis consuming a man with her vagina) parts of it just seem so real. Which is actually a hallmark of Gaiman's writing in general and probably my favorite style.

    • Mandi says:

      Just curious, where do you get the implication that Shadow is black? I don't remember reading anything that showed he was black, but I might have missed it. I'm not arguing your point, just trying to see if I misread something.

      • Wwolf_87 says:

        Actually is never specified, but he is described as dark by some. I guessed he was mixed race but is an open issue.

      • cait0716 says:

        I base it on a few things, some of which are probably spoilery

        In this chapter, the guard asks him if he's got some gypsy or "nigger" in him, which certainly implies that he isn't white. So he's definitely mixed race.

        Gaiman himself has said that he pictures Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Shadow, so that's the mental image I carry in my head

        The last hint, rot13ed for spoiler protection (though it's not a huge plot point): Funqbj'f zbz qvrq bs fvpxyr pryy narzvn

        • Mandi says:

          Alright, thanks! I ended up reading the first half of the book rather slowly because of school, so some details slipped my mind when I was able to finish it during the summer. Thanks for explaining 🙂

        • @threeparts says:

          Ur'f qrfpevorq nf univat pernz-naq-pbssrr fxva, fb jvgu uvf zbgure'f fvpxarff naq Jrqarfqnl nf uvf sngure, ur'f cerggl yvxryl gb or zvkrq enpr.

          Ubj yvggyr nggragvba vf tvira gb culfvpny qrfpevcgvbaf bs gur cebgntbavfg vf bar bs zl snibhevgr guvatf nobhg NT. Funqbj ernyyl vf whfg n funqbj, rira va n obbx nobhg uvz.

        • notemily says:

          LOL, Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Shadow is cracking me up. CAN YOU SMELL WHAT THE SHADOW IS COOKING??

          (Also, there's this, one of my all-time favorite tweets from anyone ever.)

          Anyway, I get the impression that his race is sort of ambiguous, and he himself says to the guard that he doesn't know, although he could be lying to avoid getting into any kind of conversation with the racist guard. (The Rock himself is mixed Black Canadian and Samoan, according to Wikipedia.)

        • brandy says:

          Huh, interesting. He did an excellent job, then because I was basically picturing The Rock as I read it!

        • I've just begun rereading the book because of Mark's review, and right in chapter 1, not long after Wilson's racist speculations about Shadow's bloodlines, there's the bit where Shadow reaches the airport, and the ticketing agent is specifically referred to in the narration as "a white woman." Which I've come to read as a clue that the point-of-view character isn't white.

          There's a whole discussion of privilege and bias which can be summed up as: In a racist society, "white" is the default, the norm, the unmarked state. White characters' skin color goes unmentioned by white authors pretty much for the same reason their status as human goes unmentioned: unless otherwise noted, you can just assume it. Meanwhile, non-white characters get their skin color or assumed ethnicity pointed out as pretty much the very first visual descriptor.

          Gaiman plays with and subverts this particular privilege marker consciously. In Anansi Boys, where the main characters are all black, black is the unmarked state; the narration will only mention a character's ethnicity if they're not black.

          So I assume he's doing something like this here with Shadow in Chapter 1.

  4. Jack_of_Hearts says:

    Oh, I assumed it was going to be Gaiman, but I had NO IDEA that you were going to be reading American Gods! This is just like literary christmas! my FAVOURITE BOOK EVER. I haven't even read the review yet, i just felt the need to say something, seriously I'm SO VERY HAPPY 😀

  5. flootzavut says:

    Heehee, yes, Neil WILL turn your brain inside out. It's his thang, dude. Enjoy 🙂

  6. Albion19 says:

    Oh I guessed that you'd be reading Gaiman but I didn't think of this one!

  7. knut_knut says:

    YAAAAAAAAAAY! I’m so excited you’re reading this! I’ve actually only read it once and even though I spent the majority of the time with a giant question mark on my face I thought the book was SOOOOOOOO GOOD. Not much to say so far except for A+ on the Moss gif!

    ETA: Hmmm this is really strange, but I just realized I normally read Gaiman books in the fall so I associate him with autumn. I have no idea why and I don’t do it on purpose; it just happens that way, so nice timing!

    • cait0716 says:

      That's awesome. I always read American Gods in the middle of summer, so I tend to associate it with that. It's actually a bit weird for me to be starting this book as the temperature is dropping.

    • FlameRaven says:

      I reread Gaiman throughout the year, but The Graveyard Book is definitely one that I read sometime in October pretty much every year. It's just so perfect for Halloween.

      • KvotheCase says:

        Ooooh I hope Mark might do that one sometime it's one of my all time favorites. 🙂

      • cait0716 says:

        I just started The Graveyard Book. It's been sitting on my bookshelf, unread, for three years now, but I finally got around to it! It does seem kind of perfect for this season.

        • FlameRaven says:

          It's just a lovely story. I definitely need to reread it for Halloween, although I need to get through Goliath and Son of Neptune first, and finish the Tamora Pierce series I just started.

      • knut_knut says:

        I still haven't read it! I think this Halloween I will 🙂

      • arctic_hare says:

        Graveyard Book is wonderful!

      • Kit says:

        oh, The Graveyard Book. *sigh* I loaned my copy to my (now) ex, and last I talked to him he didn't think he still had any of my stuff…. (at very least, he still had The Looking Glass Wars and the Hogfather movie as well when we broke up…)

    • roguebelle says:

      I'm so glad I'm not the only person who seasonally associates certain books. ;D

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I really like this comment because now it's gotten me thinking of seasonal books. Harry Potter reminds me of summer. The Hunger Games is winter. The Stranger is spring. OH GOD THIS IS FUN.

      • knut_knut says:

        Harry Potter is always summer for me too (although the movies remind me of November, Thanksgiving to be specific, because we always watch them while we’re digesting). LOTR is winter, so perfect timing AGAIN!

      • sabra_n says:

        Harry Potter is autumn for me. I started reading it when my freshman year of high school began…got caught reading Prisoner of Azkaban under the table during physics and everything.

      • episkey825 says:

        The Hunger Games will always be linked to Christmas for me. I received my Kindle as a gift and they were the first books I read on it.

  8. Mitch_L_Grooms says:

    Aaaaah! This is just the excuse I need to finally read this book, HOORAY \o/

    • Darth_Ember says:

      Ditto to this, though I have to admit I left it hanging and wasn't actually that excited about picking it back up. I don't know; I guess it was because I bought another book around the same time that I really wanted to read, and then just never got around to returning to it.

  9. pica_scribit says:

    Yay! Welcome to the Cult of Gaiman, Mark! Please continue to read my favourite books! I haven't re-read this one in ages. Please let us know whether you're reading the original edition or the 10th anniversary edition (Gaiman's preferred version), so I know which one to buy on Kindle!

    I'm a traveler. I love driving around the US (often by myself). I've been to most of the Lower 48, and one of my goals in life it to visit a winery in every state (25 so far). Gaiman may be English by birth, but in some ways, he *gets* America in ways that lots of people who live here don't. Maybe part of that is the perspective of an outsider. Whatever it is, I really enjoy it. (Mark, did you read the Caveat and Warning for Travelers at the beginning? Because I feel like that's important.)

    I am not going to apologise even a little bit for the fact that Shadow looks like Vin Diesel in my head. Or the fact that if/when this becomes a movie, I want Jason Webley to do the music for it. Because he would be perfect and I love him and because he's friends with Gaiman. (If you don't know Webley, you should seriously go check out his work RIGHT NOW. He's like a young, sexy Tom Waits with an accordion. And he throws slumber parties for his fans.)

    • FlameRaven says:

      I think I've read that Gaiman was writing this book right around the time he moved to America, so it would make sense that he was sort of figuring America out through this book.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I FORGOT.


      • pennylane27 says:

        Oh good. Now I know which one to buy! 🙂

      • cait0716 says:

        Hooray! That's the version I have on my kindle, so this makes my life way easier. Also, it's more which is always better.

        Just so you know, there's a "deleted scene" at the very end of the book, after the acknowledgements. You don't want to miss it

      • That's the one I have! Gaiman-autographed and everything. I attended an event where he read from it, and the whole audience about died and went to Heaven on the spot.

        That said, I'm not a fan of the book, so I look forward to this read-through to see what I'm missing and what I can learn from it!

      • pica_scribit says:

        Yay! I did a read-through of the samples of both from Amazon, and I think the 10th Anniversary one feels a lot more polished. *buys*

  10. SteelMagnolia80 says:

    Thanks to your sly little hints, I am perfectly prepared for this chapter! Only…not so prepared for that ending. Ew. WHUT.

    I'm as new to Gaiman as you, so we're in it together, Mark! But these fine folks haven't steered us wrong yet, so I trust everyone who's all "READ GAIMAN…DO IT." I respond to all caps.

  11. KvotheCase says:

    Yeah I love American Gods and all but sorry I despise that sex scene a little bit.

    Also: 'Gurer’f ab, “Fur ybirq uvz, OHG…” Fur whfg ybirf uvz, naq ol nyy nccrnenaprf, fur jnvgrq guerr lrnef sbe uvz, tbvat nf sne nf gb ohl n syvtug sbe uvz gb pbzr ubzr.'

    Hahaha oh dear…

  12. FlameRaven says:

    I may have to reread this one along with you, Mark. I've only read American Gods twice, and both times I think I was a little too young to really "get" it. Kind of like reading ASoIaF made so much more sense to me at 25 than 15. It's worth another look, anyway.

    Out of curiosity, are you reading the standard version, or the recently-released 10th anniversary copy? I know Gaiman added in a fair amount of text for the latter that was cut for the first release, and I'd be interested to see what that included.

  13. Kira Wonrey says:

    I'm so happy that you are reading American Gods, Mark! It's a great book, you're gonna love it!

    However, maybe it's not my favorite book by Neil Gaiman, I just love his collections of short stories and poetry too much. Maybe you could read one of them one day… One story per day or something like that. Fragile things is incredibly good!

    Also, Good Omens <3 And love the Moss gif!

  14. KvotheCase says:

    Just remebered this from the start of The Golden Compass and went to find it: 'I’ve meant to read this trilogy for a long time because of C.S. Lewis. And I will explain that at some time in the future when it’s right.'

    Is this still going to happen? Not meaning to rush you or anything of course! It's just that I' extremely interested because I have my own very mixed feelings about that…
    Sorry if this has already happened somewhere and I missed it! 🙂

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      I assume it's because Lewis was a born-again Christian, a religion Mark has had some bad experiences with, while Pullman is an atheist who has harshly criticized the Narnia series as being Christian propaganda (and then wrote his own much more overt propaganda fantasy series, making him kind of a hypocrite, but it's still good).

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        It's partially that. I grew up on the first four published Narnia books and while I don't feel the same about them, I still appreciate them. I never read books five or six, and I read the last book and HATED IT, especially Susan's ending.

        I'm torn about those books, sort of like how I feel about Ender's Game. I know now that the authors' beliefs (Orson Scott Card and C.S. Lewis respectively) completely clash with mine, and I'm able to put it aside to a point. And it's this whole complex little mental dance between liking things for their entertainment value and being horrified at what those two men have said publicly or put in their books.


        • KvotheCase says:


          Yeah I could kinda guess the issues you'd have with them and this is exactly how I feel. I remember I didn't even get that Aslan was God until the last book (look I was really young but I know it was so obvious and HOW DID I MISS THAT WHAT) anyway I was so incredibly angry about that ending… but so torn because there is so much amazing writing in those books and they were probably the first books to stimulate my imagination so well, long before I understood the indoctrination factor.

          So yeah BASICALLY WHAT YOU SAID.

        • Leanie says:

          Just out of curiosity, what has Orson Scott Card done/implied in his books? My bestfriend's favorite book is "Ender's Game", and I've been meaning to read it for a while.

          • Mauve_Avenger says:

            Not having read any of his books, I can't really answer for the "implied in his books" part, but Orson Scott Card is a homophobe who's currently on the board of directors of the National Organization for Marriage. I read just recently that earlier this year he also wrote up a retelling of Hamlet that people are saying is really just an attempt to link homosexuality and pedophilia.

            • notemily says:

              Yeah, apparently the point of the Hamlet retelling is that Hamlet's father molested him when he was a kid and therefore TURNED HIM GAY. Because, you know, that's how being gay works. *eyeroll*

            • sabra_n says:

              NOM NOM NOM.

              Sorry, I'm constitutionally obligated to say that every time that ludicrous organization comes up.

          • notemily says:

            Oh and also, if you read certain essays about the Ender books, they look a lot more morally questionable. You probably don't want to read those BEFORE reading the book(s), though, because they spoil everything.

            • sabra_n says:

              Yeah, the Ender books get worse and worse as they go along – in Ender's Game you can kind of shove some of the ucky stuff aside…not so much by the time you're reading Shadow of the Hegemon or whatnot.

        • vermillioncity says:

          So, I just googled the Problem of Susan and came across this His Dark Materials/Narnia story which I think people here might enjoy?… Susan's treatment bothered you, this is really interesting.

  15. FuTeffla says:

    OMG, you're reading American Gods! I am so ridiculously excited. I only read it for the first time recently but it stayed rattling around my head for a long time afterwards.

    • FuTeffla says:

      Oh and 'Why does he say Shadow can be “King of America” and how is that even possible?' just makes me think of Shadow as Emperor Norton I and that is AWESOME.
      P.S. Good Omens is excellent – Pratchett + Gaiman!

  16. Angelllla24 says:

    THIS is my favorite book EVER!!!!! Thankyou thankyou thankyou!!! I just adore when you read one of my faves because of all the amazing insight both you and your awesome readers provide. I love it!!!!! Yes I’m gushing, but I guessed right and I’m STOKED.

  17. Viridescence says:

    Good Omens Good Omens Good Omens! :DDD I am excited, Mark. So very, very, excited~

    I haven't read this one yet, I'll have to check it out so I can read it with you~ 😀 That'll be fun! Yay yay yay Neil Gaiman~

  18. Elexus Calcearius says:

    Ha, called it

    Glad you're reading this, since its the only Gaiman novel I've read myself (I'm tracking down the others) and oooh, God, this will be fun. *grins evilly*

    The set up for this is very….confusing. I had a bit of knowledge of the concept going in, and I'm also familiar with the idea because I've read another series who uses it, although in a much lighter way. Incidently, its one on your list of 'things to read', but I won't tell you which one, but SPOILERS! It will be interesting when you get there.

    Basically, keep your eye out, and look for connection. Gaiman is a writer who loves to use other stories for the basis of his own. That's what I got the sense of when reading Sandman; its woven with hundreds of pieces of poetry, mythology from all across the world, Shakespeare…he's very much like Terry Pratchett in that sense, which is why they must have gotten together for Good Omens, I suppose.

    Now…I'm interested on the Chronicles of Narnia. I thought you hadn't read them at all, Mark, and therefore wouldn't know about the Problem Of Susan, which I personally find equally annoying. Seriously, I loved the books as a kid, and I still enjoy them, despite the fact that its obviously an allegory. After all, on a certain level, there's something universal to the themes that Lewis dealt with; family, loyalty, belief, temptation. While its dressed with Christian symbolism, they're accessible to everyone. (JK Rowling was Christian and used a similar method, although it was less obvious and wasn't meant to be purely Christian). But the Problem Of Susan, and some of the other stuff in the Last Battle were….difficult.

    Anyway, enjoy American Gods! It'll be interesting seeing what an actual American would think of it.

  19. Ha, I was right!!

    Mark, you have no idea how unprepared you are. Seriously.

    Gur hacercnerqarff ortvaf ba gur irel svefg cntr. Nf va: unysjnl guebhtu gur obbx, V fgnegrq jbaqrevat jura Ybxv jbhyq fubj hc.


    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Okay, sorry about that. I meant to convert it to Rot13….but my fingers are too fast. Hopefully no one saw that before I edited it myself.

      *hides in shame*

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      HA, yes. Unprepared. But I loved that bit, mostly because I like being smart and predicting things;

      Zr: Bxnl, fb tbqf rkvfg. Vgf yvxr gur Crepl Wnpxfba Obbxf.
      Uvz: Lrc, cerggl zhpu.
      Zr: Fb, gurer'f cebonoyl fbzrbar jub jr gubhtug jnf n crefba, ohg vf npghnyyl n tbq.
      Zr: Fb, Ybj Xrl, evtug?
      Uvz: Jung?
      Zr: Ybj Xrl= Ybxv. Gur Abefr Tbq. Ur'f zber jryy xabja guna Bqva, ng nalengr.
      Uvz: Thrff lbh'yy whfg unir gb ernq.

      Unys n qnl yngre:


      • FlameRaven says:

        Hahaha. That's something I totally missed on my first reading, but looking at it now I'm like OMG SO OBVIOUS. Makes me laugh, because it really is easy to skip over and then later you're like "oh, duh."

      • cait0716 says:

        I had that exact same conversation with my mom when she first picked up the book

      • sparadigm says:

        V xrcg rkcrpgvat Ybj-Xrl gb fubj hc ntnva orpnhfr V pbhyq gryy ur jnf vzcbegnag, ohg V qvqa'g znxr gur pbaarpgvba gung Ybj-Xrl = Ybxv.

      • monkeybutter says:

        lol I should have read further down before responding to your comment.

        V ybir pngpuvat guvatf, gbb, naq V sryg fbbbb fvyyl sbe zvffvat gung. Jura V ernq, V hfhnyyl urne gur jbeqf va zl urnq, fb gurer vf frevbhfyl ab rkphfr.

    • barnswallowkate says:

      V ernq vg orpnhfr V urneq Ybxv jnf va vg, naq zl png vf anzrq Ybxv. Zl zbz cebabhaprf uvf anzr nf Ybj Xrl. Naq V fgvyy qvqa'g pngpu ba hagvy gurl fcryy vg bhg arne gur raq bs gur obbx. JGS.

      • knut_knut says:

        oops I forgot to copy my rot13'd comment and replied with your own comment. fail

        Gung vf GUR ORFG anzr sbe n png! V qvqa'g pngpu gur Ybj Xrl- Ybxv guvat rvgure hagvy V svavfurq gur obbx :/

    • Kit says:

      V YBIRQ gung erirny! V gbgnyyl qvqa'g pngpu vg hagvy vg jnf fcryyrq bhg ng gur raq, naq V jnf whfg yvxr, "Bu tbq, vg'f fb BOIVBHF!"

  20. Ida says:

    I just have to take to Internet linguo and say OMG! OMG! When I saw you were going to read "American gods", I went into spin. This will be awesome! This book means so much to me, you have no idea. It was the first Gaiman book I read, and it opened up a – well, I wouldn't say a new world, but a new level of this world. A new parallell reality of this world, maybe?

    I LOVE Neil Gaiman. He's just such a wonderful writer, and such an awesome man. I think you will fall into the trap, too, Mark, and become a Gaiman worshipper. We are a pretty big bunch too. Better than any other religion. I would say welcome, but I'll wait until you've finished the book.

    And sorry for an old cliché, but you are so. NOT. PREPARED.

  21. pennylane27 says:

    Ok. I have never read Gaiman before, and having just read the first chapter I can say I am hooked. And confused. Your reactions are the same as mine. Just… WHAT THE HELL IS GOING OOOOON?!

    I will read this one chapter at a time with you Mark. I will find my self-control.

    Also, I found the book in Harper Collins page, can someone tell me how many chapters there are, just so I know if it's complete? I'll probably buy it later though. I can't help myself, I need books.

  22. sparadigm says:

    That section at the end is honestly one of the weirdest things I've ever read. Also, I just don't buy that someone would be as verbose as that guy was while having sex; did he honestly make that up off the top of his head?

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      That ending section is weird….but then its meant to be. I went into the book with a slight understanding for what its about, so it was a titch less confusing.

      Let's just- spoilers?

      • sparadigm says:

        I've read the book before, so I get that it's supposed to be weird, but I can't even imagine what my face must have looked like when I first read that part.

        • Elexus Calcearius says:

          Oh, I can definitely imagine. It was probably similar to my face. XD

          But…V nffhzrq gung ur jnf orvat cbffrffrq ol n frk Tbqqrff, guhf jul ur jnf fb yhpvq.

          • sparadigm says:

            Gung'f xvaq bs jung V jnf guvaxvat gbb – gung fur zhfg unir fbzrguvat gb qb jvgu vg, orpnhfr bgurejvfr vg'f whfg gbb haoryvrinoyr (naq ynhtunoyr!).

            • mal612 says:

              oh yeah, it was definitely her influence.

              and no joke, the first time I read that scene years ago, I had to re-read it like 2 or 3 times to figure out what was happening!

    • notemily says:

      You can un-rot-13 this if you don't mind a Hint Spoiler: V qba'g guvax gubfr jrer ragveryl "uvf" jbeqf.

  23. elusivebreath says:

    I don't really have a comment yet, except to say that yay, I don't have to go spend my last $10 at the bookstore, because I already have this one.

  24. Mauve_Avenger says:

    I started reading this book a few years back when I missed my transfer bus home and was therefore stuck at a shopping center for an hour. I went straight to the bookstore and IIRC this was the first thing I picked up. I have to say that it was incredibly awkward reading the "Somewhere in America" section of this chapter in their cafe. I kept glancing up to see if anyone was looking at me (IRL paranoid parrot).

    I ended up checking it out at the library to finish it, so this is one book I don't have on-hand to refer back to. I pretty sure I can remember all the major points in the correct order, but I'm guessing that if I end up commenting much I'll have to get the e-book to make sure I don't post massive spoilers.

    • knut_knut says:

      Haha, I like how you kept checking around to make sure someone wasnt' reading over your shoulder (I'm an IRL paranoid parrot too). I was listening to the audiobook on the train this morning (not a fan of the recording so far) and I kept turning down the volume because I was worried people could hear it through my headphones

    • episkey825 says:

      I just read it at the gym and was worried that the guy on the elliptical next to me could see it. Of course, I had also enlarged the font so I could read it and not have to squint, which made me even more paranoid.

  25. pennylane27 says:

    It's so weird having to stop myself from reading the rot13'd comments. I want to know what you're saying! But I don't. Not helping my wavering self-control. Will distract myself with A Game of Thrones. Oh god I'm reading way too many books at the same time.

  26. barnswallowkate says:

    I read this book 2-3 years ago and also found the first chapter completely disorienting. It didn't help that the first time I checked it out from the library I'd somehow gotten the Spanish version, and I don't know Spanish =P

    The "puppy" stuff and end of this chapter grossed me out too. Ugh.

  27. jahizzle says:

    Sweeeeet! I just started reading this on the off chance that this is what you were doing! I’ve never read anything by Gaiman either so this is exciting. I’m a bit ahead so I can relax and enjoy the reviews then read along!

  28. TalentedKitty13 says:

    YAY! A book I can read along with Mark for the first time (I read the reviews for The Hunger Games and The Book Theif without having read the books but this is the first time I have thought to actually download a copy) (Plus I've been told that I would enjoy Gaimon)

    I read the review before I downloaded the book so I knew what was to come before I began reading, but it was definantely a treat to read through it wholey. Mr. Wednesday creeps me out. He reminds me of a character in The Stand (will not say more incase Mark hasn't read it). I haven't decided if he will turn out to be a good guy or not. My initial reaction is no, but then again I thought that about Snape and in a way I was wrong 😛

    Also, the ending just bothered me…my predictions are that Bilquis will the the "bad guy" throughout the book and it will be interesting to read from her perspective if it continues in this fashion.

  29. Jenny_M says:

    This is my first time since Book Thief that I've been able to read along with Mark on a book I've never read before, yay!

    First impressions? I really like Gaiman's style. It reminds me of Stephen King when he's writing well – ala The Stand (which, could that be a Mark Reads thing, or has he already read it?). Not so much in King's frantic stream-of-consciousness way that he gets, but more in the, well, GETTING Americana and the nuances of humanity. I love that. So yes, I think I am going to enjoy this book.

    • pennylane27 says:

      Oh my god The Stand.

      • knut_knut says:

        so many nightmares

        • xpanasonicyouthx says:

          Right? I read that when I was TWELVE. I was nine when I read IT. I FEEL LIKE THIS ADEQUATELY SUMMARIZES MY WHOLE LIFE.

          I will do the Dark Tower series for Mark Reads eventually! I do love me some King.


          • knut_knut says:

            HOW DID YOU SURVIVE???!!! I read it earlier this year/late last year and it gave me terrible nightmares (but the book was soooooooo goooooooood). Sometimes I think about it when I'm stuck in traffic o_O

          • pennylane27 says:

            NINE. HOW? I mean, my grandma was the one who lent me The Stand two years ago, then I read The Shining (which I couldn't read at night or when I was alone) and she always tells me that It scared her the most. Still haven't read it.

            • knut_knut says:

              Haha your grandma sounds adorable! I can’t think of a more un-grandma like author than Stephen King. I still haven’t read IT but I saw the movie while I was at camp, in a log cabin, in the middle of nowhere. At one point I jumped straight off the couch and into a bowl of ice cream. The movie ruined clowns and carnival music for me (no big loss).

              • pennylane27 says:

                My grandma is the best! 😉 She can even use the Internet to play Sudoku and chat with her friends.

                I saw some images from IT and I was instantly terrified. I never liked clowns. And carnival music was ruined by another book, which Mark is going to read, so spoilers?

          • monkeybutter says:

            omg I was nine when I read It, too! And man did I love it. My Stephen King phase started after I dressed up as a gory princess for Halloween in 4th grade and a neighbor asked if I was Carrie, so it was just the right time in my life for those books. /csb

            I never finished the Dark Tower series, so yay! And I've been meaning to read Under the Dome. I'll add it to my neverending list!

  30. Asta says:

    I very litteraly squealed when I saw that you're finally reading this book. Very excited to follow your reviews.

  31. Black Cloister says:

    I swear I am in the middle of this book at this very moment. Hell yes, I'll slow up for you.

  32. Ryan Lohner says:

    So, like I said above, I’m reading this for the first time along with Mark and just finished chapter one.

    Unfortunately, I’d read the TV Tropes page so I was spoiled for Laura’s death, but it still hit pretty hard coming right after their adorable flashback. And it’s very cool how in so few pages, Gaiman makes the prison a real place full of real people, despite it probably not being that important (though I do expect some of those other prisoners to show up again at some point).

    As Shadow moved on, I was very impressed by how much the British Neil Gaiman “got” America, and I’m sure he did a lot of driving around here to prepare for writing this. I may not have been to Crocodile Jack’s itself, if it even exists (is there any word on that?) but I’ve been to a ton of places just like it.

    And of course, Bilquis. I actually laughed a bit when the producer wonders what his being eaten by a vagina would look like to a third party, just as I was struggling to picture it myself. Yeah, shit just got real.

  33. Heather says:

    Yay! Are you going to read Anansi Boys, too? It's one of my fave Neil Gaiman books.

  34. Jordan says:

    Yay Good Omens for the future! So excite!

  35. daughterofeld says:

    OMG YES!!!!!!!!!!! THIS.

  36. Maya says:

    Ahhhh I totally thought you were going to be reading Good Omens (which is one of my favorite books ever written). Well, here's the perfect excuse to re-read this book (and make it the 10th Anniversary Edition this time).

  37. Emily Crnk says:

    Oooohhhh!!!! Read this over the summer, along with pretty much everything else Gaiman. Seriously- That man? Genius. Although with him, it's beautiful descriptions and probing into the human consciousness on one page, cannibalistic vaginias on the next.

  38. feminerdist says:

    OH NO! I mean, this is good, I've been wanting to read this too! But….

    *flails trying to figure out how to get this book in the next half hour*

    I'll probably have to catch up to you. But I also know absolutely nothing about this book, other than it's apparently awesome and Neil Gaiman wrote it.

  39. Tilja says:

    You chose a great book, and just when it hit its ten anniversary. I read it just a few months ago myself. Probably this year, although it could've been end of last year, can't remember that clearly among all the amount of books I piled up in my head continuously for months on end. I know this one took me close to 5 days to finish, which is quite a lot for me, so it stays present a bit forward compared to many of the others I've read, which just occupy the same place in time due to the velocity with which they went back to the shelf finished in a row. There was a moment before mid-year in which a sickness made me stay in bed permanently for a couple of weeks and books just went through my hands one per day, to the point that I can't remember how many I read. Right now I'm going through something like that but for other reasons and at a rate of half per day.

    I can tell you one thing about this book. It's probably all you imagine it to be, but most likely it's what you don't imagine it to be. Either way, it's a treat to find out just how good you are at being shocked.

  40. Dani says:

    Aw, I'm so glad that you'll be reading Good Omens sometime! It's been my favourite book for about ten years now 🙂

  41. arctic_hare says:


    Urk. Anyway. I really enjoyed reading this the first time, just for spotting all the mythological connections and whatnot. I also love how Gaiman just gets America. Not going to say any more, though, because I KNOW TOO MUCH. Suffice to say… you en't prepared. 😉

  42. SixCraftsUnder says:

    I'M SO EXCITED YOU ARE READING THIS BOOK I CAN'T EVEN. ALSO: The full cast audio book makes the book EVEN MORE AWESOME after you've read it. Do it do it do it!!!

  43. Kiryn says:



    Anyway. That thing with Bilquis–I can't even begin to picture what that would look like. Just….what. I don't get anything in this book yet.

    Also, what was that about Narnia? I didn't hear about this at all. And so you're definitely not going to read it? What's going on there?

  44. The thing about this book…I don't know, maybe reading it Mark-style would be different. But most people I know who have read it and subsequently reread it find things they missed, or that seem to have changed, or touches they swear were never there on previous readings. I've had that experience with this book too. It's dreamlike, i think; the story is solid, but the atmosphere billows and floats.

  45. Mary Sue says:

    I personally think that American Gods is one of the best places for US folks new to Gaiman to start.

    Also, you are so, so, adorably, nowhere near even slightly aware how unprepared you are. YAY!

  46. Natalia (@mellafe) says:

    I remember I read this one about a thousand years ago and I blame my youth for not liking it. I think I will open it up again an read with you because a)I've never done that, and b)Neil Gaiman is my favorite author in the world (not only because he kissed my cheek when I met him, hee hee).

    Anyway, Neil is always good for the soul, I say, because he has a way with words and humour and, again, favorite author ever. I know people rave about Good Omens but my favorite book in the world is Neverwhere, so I hope you give that one a read too. It'll make you happy. Yes.

  47. LilithDee says:

    Fan-freaking-tastic. The second book I read by Neil Gaiman and one of my favorite books of all time. I love that you pointed out the whole countryside thing, that is so true. So much respect for the American landscape here and… and… well just, you just made my week, is all. : )

  48. Melissa says:

    I've had this book on my shelf for months, but never read it. I am excited to be as unprepared as Mark and read along!

  49. doesntsparkle says:

    I read this book almost ten years ago, so I don't remember all that much about it. However, that sex scene at the end of the opening chapter has been burned in my brain.

  50. Mitch_L_Grooms says:

    OK, having now read the first chapter I can ALREADY tell how unprepared you are, purely because I'm familiar with Neil Gaiman's writing style. SO MUCH SHIT IS GOING DOWN. *flaaaaaail*

    One thing: I sort of felt like the man Bilquis consumed was some sort of possessed, and that's why he suddenly got all flowery with his worship. I'm basing that on nothing but a feeling, but since she can EAT PEOPLE WITH HER VAGINA, it doesn't seem unreasonable!

    (Ybj Xrl Ylrfzvgu? FREVBHFYL? Naq gura "Zvtug nf jryy or Guhefqnl" naq GUVF VF FB BOIVBHF. Arireguryrff, cyrnfr ab fcbvyref, nf V bayl unir zl snzvyvnevgl jvgu zlguf naq Tnvzna gb tb ba, urer.)

  51. Maya says:

    RE: The Problem of Susan- I just went to go re-read some commentaries on that piece, and I found this story:

    It's basically an approach to The Problem of Susan but through the world of "The Golden Compass." And it's WONDERFUL.

  52. Jabberwocky says:

    If you ever get a chance, I highly recommend finding any of the audiobooks of Gaiman's works that he reads himself. The man's voice is just… mesmerizing. He came to our city a few years back to accept some kind of library award and did about an hour of speaking and reading. It was awesome, and I'm pretty sure I could sit and listen to him read all the time and never get bored.

    Failing that, search on Youtube for "The Problem with Saints", a short song he did for the 8-in-8 project.

  53. bookworm67 says:

    OMG this book has been on my to-read list for forever! Now I need to go find it in the school library…oh god, I think I did that already, actually and it wasn't there. NOOOOO.

  54. This is my favorite book in the world. Oh, Mark. So very unprepared.

    Question, are you reading the regular edition or the Tenth Anniversary edition that just came out? Out of curiosity.

  55. Alley says:

    Yay, you picked a Gaiman novel that I haven't read, so I actually get to read along and be unprepared with you for a change!

  56. Cakemage says:

    As …awkward… as reading that sex scene is, imagine that you decided to listen to the book on tape instead, and you had no idea about that scene in advance.

    Yeah, it was an interesting experience, to say the least. Especially 'cause mom was listening to it with me. Yeah.

  57. Angelllla24 says:

    I can’t wait… a “quote” (it’s like 3 pages long) in the middle of this book is my favorite ever. So much so that I painted it onto my apartment wall in college. A full wall Gaiman mural. I cried when I moved out and refused to paint over it despite losing my deposit for not doing so. I’ll post pics when we get that far!!!!

  58. pica_scribit says:

    I've read it before, but I still downloaded samples of both the regular and 10th anniversary editions to my Kindle, just to be extra prepared.

    • notemily says:

      I've read it before too, but that was when it came out, which is now 10 years ago, so I remember very little. Thanks for the info about the Kindle; I have the Kindle app on my phone so I downloaded the sample there. It's actually easier for me to read it that way than on my computer, for some reason.

  59. Suzannezibar says:


    Also, um, for the record…I have that weird habit of naming my electronics after my favorite characters in literature/film/etc. And my iPod's name happens to be Shadow :D.

  60. Hanah_banana says:

    Eeee exciting! 😀 I started American Gods a while ago but then I forgot to read it for ages so this is the PERFECT excuse to pick it up and re-read it again.

    I have no deep insights to give into this chapter because I am multi-tasking and re-watching Impossible Astronaut (which is MURDERING MY HEART in the light of The God Complex oh my god D:) but Laura's death is just devastating. I mean, we know that Shadow is a criminal, an armed robber, but it's still so tragic that his wife whom he wants to get back to so badly is suddenly dead and he can't be with her after all. ALL THE TRAGEDY.

  61. ChronicReader91 says:

    Here I was sure the “mystery book” was going to be Good Omens. Darnit, and I was almost done with that book too. That’s OK though, I was reading this one too. My previous knowledge was about the same as yours except for one detail: V xabj gung gur prageny pbaprcg unf fbzrguvat gb qb jvgu zlgubybtl. Since that’s pretty much my favorite thing in the whole world there was no way I was skipping this one.

    I would LOVE to travel more and I’m jealous of you for having been to so much of the country. I want to travel internationally more because I’ve never been out of the country, my stateside travel has been tragically limited as well. I’ve been no further north than New York and Pennsylvania (and I was too young to really remember either of those trips) and no further south than Georgia, and nothing west of the east coast. I need to just take a road trip or something.

  62. PUDDING says:

    Shame I've never read it before. I was hoping you would read Coraline.

  63. Rose says:

    /joins the cult of Gaiman worshippers

    American Gods is actually my least favorite Gaiman novel; I liked Anansi Boys a lot better. Probably because [ROT13 for possible spoilers, just in case] vg sryg pbaibyhgrq gb zr, pbzcnerq gb Tnvzna’f fvzcyre naq zber cbrgvp jbexf yvxr Arirejurer, naq V erzrzore ernqvat – naq nterrvat jvgu – n erivrj gung fnvq gung Tnvzna unq nyernql hfrq znal bs gur gurzrf cerfrag va guvf obbx va Gur Fnaqzna gb zhpu orggre rssrpg. Cyhf, Nanafv Oblf unq n ybg srjre zbzragf va vg gung znqr zr tb JGS qhevat zl ernqvat.

    Nonetheless, it was still better than 90% of the other books I’ve read and I’m ecstatic to see that you’ll definitely be reading Good Omens and Neverwhere in the future; these are among my all-time favorite books!

  64. Andrew says:

    Oh fuck yes. American Gods is one of my very favourite books.

    I love the sex scene. I love that it's so weird and surreal and horrifying (and yet also, dare I say, oddly beautiful?)

    And I love Shadow. I relate to his way of thinking – I very much am the type who rationalises things, keeps my emotions in check, keeps to myself, etc. I just remember finding him fascinating and wanting to know more about him.

  65. muselinotte says:

    I am so glad it's near the end of the month, yet I'm not completely broke.
    So I hope I can get my hands on an English version of American Gods tomorrow…

    In other news… I am enamored by the Maurice Moss .gif
    <3 <3

  66. Kit says:

    My favorite thing in this book, aside from the heavy use of mythology, is the places Shadow goes. There's a hugely important bit that takes place somewhere I've been, and I was so excited to see that place name and picture everything as it happened in that place.

    Also, regarding The Problem of Susan (which I think I've read, but can't remember for sure…), I read a fantastic Harry Potter fic once in which Susan was Lily and Petunia's mother….

    • Mew says:

      I found the story! Well, I found a story that has Susan as Lily and Petunia's mother, but I'm not sure of it's the one you read. It was such an awesome idea that Harry could be related to Pevensie family that I couldn't resist looking! It's on, called "Legacy" by Tanydwr.

  67. vannevar says:

    Haha, I have the original edition but not the 10th anniversary one. I went to my library's webpage to place a hold — all the books are checked out (pretty recently I might add) and there are four people ahead of me in the hold queue. Come on, who else is from Upstate NY? 😉

  68. kasiopeia says:

    I had forgotten that you was reading this book, and what a pleasant surprise! 😀 This is one of my favorite books, and I'm really glad I get to experience it with you 🙂

    The realism thing is really interesting, and it's one of the things I think Neil Gaiman does best in all his books: He mixes the fantastical with the realistic, and he makes it all seem so possible, real and like it's just right around the corner. And there's not that many authors you manages (or even tries) to do that. I love a lot of authors who write fantasy/scifi, and I love a lot of authors who do realistic books. But Gailman is the only one that mixes them both and does it so well ^^

    Have a good and fantastic read Mark!

  69. Danielle says:

    Awesome! You are utterly unprepared and I think you're going to enjoy it.
    Als GOOD OMENS YES YOU MUST READ IT. That and Nation. Next two one-offs, y/y?

  70. @lnich says:

    Ahaha 😀 I recommended this book to my brother last year when he was looking for a gift for his girlfriend. When she got to the Bilquis part she started IMing my brother about wth kind of book he'd given her . . . XD

  71. Mew says:

    Hooray! It's wonderful to see someone else reading this. (But you are so not prepared for it.) Have you heard of the mini-sequel to this? It's a short story called "The Monarch of the Glen" and it's by Neil Gaiman and is in the book "Fragile Things".
    And I can't wait for you to start reading "Good Omens"! It's one of my favorite books of all time and is my personal favorite of Gaiman's.

  72. Erica says:

    Mark is doomed to an eternity of never, ever, ever being prepared.

  73. Aslee says:


    'American Gods' was my first Gaiman book, followed by 'Stardust' then 'Neverwhere', 'Good Omens', etc. ((I recommend all of them, by the way. Especially 'Anansi's Boys'.)) I was… thirteen at the time, I think, and I just STARED at the book at the end of the chapter. Just… sat in class and stared.

    And then the bell rang, and I went to math, and I read the rest as I pretended to derive formulas.

  74. BradSmith5 says:

    Hm, just read the first chapter. I'm enjoying this mellow writing style, and I love all of the dialog and how it complements the narration. My only complaint so far is that there's too much cliché stuff in here like "Storm's on the way," and a strange person with dual-colored eyes.

    Oh, wait, no, I CAN complain some more. The main guy's name is SHADOW and we get lines like this: "Shadow became more quiet, more shadowy, than ever."

    At least that final bit was, uh, quite unique! Ha,ha,ha.

  75. Rachel Fatale says:

    OMG, MARK. I AM SO HAPPY YOU ARE READING THIS NOW. I JUST finished reading this book today, and I LOVE IT SO MUCH. I don't know why it took me so long to read it, because Neil Gaiman is my favorite author and I've been reading his books for ten years. I read the first 150 pages or so about six years ago and then got distracted by life and never got around to it again until now. ANYWAY, I'm also really excited because I'll actually get to read all of your updates when they're NEW. I haven't read any of the other books you've reviewed except for Harry Potter, and I've just started reading those ones.

    Also, 200 comments in 12 hours? Sheesh, you're so Internet famous now. <3

  76. meg120 says:

    I'm so excited you are reading American Gods! It's one of my favorite books and perhaps tied with Neverwhere for best Neil Gaiman book, in my opinion. I have been following markreads for a while, since the end of Mockingjay at least, but am apparently just getting around to leaving a post. One of the things I like about Gaiman's writing is his descriptions. I am looking forward to re-reading American Gods as you read it for the first time.

  77. celestineangel1 says:


  78. notemily says:

    Just so you know, Mark REALLY doesn't like spoilers, and that extends to things like "this is the structure of the book." He says in this entry that he doesn't know anything about the book and wants to keep it that way. I don't think he wants to look up the names, either, because that might spoil him as well.

    Here's a link to the full spoiler policy.

  79. SisterCoyote says:


    I am so glad I saw this now, instead of several chapters in. Mark! You are not prepared! For the awesome!

  80. Patrick721 says:

    Mark, you started reading this on a Wednesday. I am grinning like a fool here, because I am a mythology nerd and I am in my motherfucking element here. So excite for you to read this.

  81. Vikikiwa says:

    I haven't read this before so I so excited to read along and not do the whole book in one day must not do whole book in single day must not do whole book in single day
    I have read too much Gaiman before because I'm reading this and I'm thinking 'I see what you're doing there'

    Guhefqnl naq guhaqre. Gube boivbhfyl naq Jrqarfqnl vf Bqva'f qnl.
    Ybj Xrl ylrfzvgu = Ybxv yvr-fzvgu
    V srry xvaqn pyrire sbe trggvat vg va Puncgre bar.

  82. Brieana says:

    Holy shit! I have been hoarding this book for a while and now have even more reason to read it now.

  83. reflion says:

    I hope you enjoy American Gods–personally, it's my least favorite of Gaiman's works (too dark and edgy compared to, say, Anansi Boys).

    I'm excited to know, however, that you'll be reading Good Omens! The light-hearted humor will make a great counterpoint to American Gods, and it's a Pratchett book besides.

  84. Kaotik4266 says:

    "I think a lot of people who don’t live here can’t fathom how the US works, since our country is so impossibly large. Like…the idea that it takes DAYS to drive from one side of the country to another is unbelievable to most people"
    As an Australian, I know how this feels. It's a four and a bit hour flight from my home town, a state capital city, to any other state capital city.

  85. Dent D says:

    Mark, I've been reading you since somebody pointed out that you were covering Avatar: The Last Airbender. I never thought you'd do American Gods, SO EXCITE!

    I have never read the 10th Anniversary Edition so now I have an excuse to pick it up and reread. AG is one of my favorite novels. I don't get this feeling about many books, but AG is one of those where after I read it, I felt *changed* without being able to identify what of me was now different.

    So many thoughts but I worry so much about spoilers, I think I'll hold off for now. Can't wait!!

  86. Sarah says:

    Oh, YES. American Gods! All I knew about this book going in was that it was written by Neil Gaiman as well, so I had just about the same level of preparedness as you. And it was a GLORIOUS experience.

    Though to be honest, I wasn't sure how I felt about the opening bit with Shadow and the death of Laura and Mr. Wednesday… and then I got to the end of the chapter, called my best friend, and was like, "So, I'm reading this book where a guy totally got eaten by this girl's vagina. This is going to be AWESOME." And lo, I was was right. I think it was that promise that yes, there IS something supernatural and powerful and just plain WEIRD on the horizon that helped me realize that this was, in fact, going to go in a direction I would really enjoy.

  87. clodia_risa says:


    I love and adore this book and will be rereading it again shortly, as I seem to have forgotten a few details.

    I hope you love it as much as I do.

    [sits back with a tub of popcorn]

    Abguvat arj haqre gur fha ohg: Ybj Xrl, Jrqarfqnl. Tnvzna vf nznmvat ng chggvat guvatf jr nyernql xabj haqre bhe abfr naq znxvat hf abg abgvpr gurz ng nyy. Vg’f nyy gurer ba gur cntr.

    Nyfb, ur znxrf zr srry yvxr V arire svavfurq tenqr fpubby jvgu nyy bs uvf ersreraprf. V ybir gung nobhg uvz.

    Vf Wnpx’f Pebpbqvyr One nabgure tbq-unyy? Fborx’f, V thrff?

  88. Michelle says:

    Oh yeah, that scene. Pleasant.


    Please read Discworld next.

  89. theenglishman says:

    I'm surprised no one's put a link up to this yet, which uses the text from Chapter 1 of American Gods.

    [youtube Vms1rY9gmZw youtube]

  90. I'm pretty excited about this as I've only read Good Omens but had bought American Gods a few weeks ago. I was wondering what to read after finishing A Feast for Crows, saw you were reading this and lo and behold, my decision has been made for me 🙂
    OMG THAT SEX SCENE! If that scene doesn't make you happy that you're celibate or gay then… No, I have no words.

  91. Kelly L. says:

    OMG! I have not read this book for probably about five years, I am so excited to revisit it! I love me some Neil Gaiman.

    Also: YES. You must read Good Omens.

  92. Kelly L. says:

    Question: how is the 10th anniversary edition different from the "regular" version? Or do we not know that? I'm just curious since you made a point of pointing out that it was different.

  93. Hotaru_hime says:

    I didn't even know you were reading American Gods omg what is wrong with omg
    This first chapter is all kinds of what the fuck.

  94. James says:

    This is the first time I'll be reading something along with you! I've been meaning to read this for ages, so thanks for the impetus! I'm going to catch up with you and then try to keep the same pace. Seeing as I only have an e-book it should be easier to do (nothing against them, I just can't read text on a screen as easily or continuously as I can on a page). Even though this is my first time reading this, I'm at an advantage because I have some idea what the premise is. Also Neil and I share a major interest that is relevant to this story and there's stuff in this chapter that makes me flail like a muppet because I've read Gaiman before so know what to pick up on and *FLAIL*

  95. bookling says:

    I am late to the party, but OH MY GOD MARK I AM SO EXCITED YOU'RE READING THIS.

    Can you even believe Gaiman is British? It's amazing how he captures small-town America. He moved over here after spending time traveling the country doing research for this book.

  96. Hailey says:

    I loved this book! And I also HIGHLY Recommend Good Omen's. It's got a fantastic story, and humor and I just… I adore it. (I read it two days ago. You WILL have trouble reading a chapter at a time though.)

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