Mark Reads ‘American Gods’: Chapter 2

In the second chapter of American Gods, Shadow takes a job, fights a leprechaun, takes a ride, wakes up hungover, buries his wife, and gets kidnapped. Sort of. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read American Gods.


I forgot to mention this yesterday, but I am reading the 10th Anniversary edition of this book. i am an adult i swear

If anything, Gaiman’s got my attention already. I can say that much about this book so far.

Actually, I can say a lot of things about this chapter, but I know that I’ve crossed the point of being woefully ignorant and into the realm of “Please Feed Me More Information, Neil Gaiman.” And I’ll tell you why: Mr. Wednesday is a presumptive motherfucker. He knows what Shadow wants and needs. He orders for him. He has all the answers, he’s going to purposely tease you with them, he will frustrate you forever, and he gives absolutely no fucks at all. Here is an accurate portrayal of Mr. Wednesday’s day-to-day life:

And that is canon.

Shadow has had enough of Mr. Wednesday’s unbelievable behavior and his creepy stalking, so he continues to reject the job offer. Besides, he has a job anyway.

“Would that be the job at the Muscle Farm?”

“Maybe,” said Shadow.

“Nope. You don’t. Robbie Burton’s dead. Without him the Muscle Farm’s dead too.”

WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS BOOK DOING TO ME. His wife and his friend and his job? What the hell? Suddenly, his job proposal seems like the only logical choice left, and it seems Shadow’s opening up to the possibility. But he ignores the newspaper the man tries to hand him, choosing to enjoy his first real meal since getting out of prison. WHICH NO MAN SHOULD DENY. I’m glad that Gaiman doesn’t ignore the little flashes that Shadow would have of both his past and his wife, and especially given that his wife has just passed, it adds to the character’s realism that a mediocre bowl of chili in a side-of-the-road bar would trigger thoughts of his wife’s superior recipe. Which I kind of want to try because I fucking love chili.

But this pleasant memory of his wife disappears when Shadow finally gives the paper Mr. Wednesday gave him some attention. It turns out that his wife and Robbie actually died in the same car, meaning that his wife and his best friend are now inextricably linked in their death. Was Robby drunk? Probably, and Shadow imagines his wife fighting him, trying to get him to sop. It’s like Shadow is merely existing to get punched in the face over and over again.

It’s at this point that Shadow, resigned to accept the randomness that life has given him, essentially agrees to take on the job that Mr. Wednesday offers him. And everything just gets weird. Shadow tries to rig a coin toss to prove that Mr. Wednesday has shit luck, but the man ends up guessing correctly. Mr. Wednesday also claims to know exactly what Shadow will drink, and goes to get mead (IS THIS A GAME OF THRONES WHAT THE FUCK) while Mr. Sweeney sits down next to him. (Side note: My god, nothing is more American than the hat/shirt Mr. Sweeney wears. Bless this book.)

And how does Mr. Sweeney finally introduce himself?

“You working for our man then?” asked the bearded man. He was not sober, although he was not yet drunk.

“It looks that way,” said Shadow.

The bearded man lit his cigarette. “I’m a leprechaun,” he said.

Haha what.

Shadow did not smile. “Really?” he said. “Shouldn’t you be drinking Guinness?”

“Stereotypes. You have to learn to think outside the box,” said the bearded man. “There’s a lot more to Ireland than Guinness.”

“You don’t have an Irish accent.”

“I’ve been over here too fucken long.”

“So you are originally from Ireland?”

“I told you. I’m a leprechaun. We don’t come from fucken Moscow.”

It’s too matter-of-fact. I’m starting to put things together. I don’t think Mr. Sweeney is lying at all. I think he’s a leprechaun. Well, at least the concept of one, but he clearly looks different than what we assume one to be. Soooooo….what is this book??? And who is Mr. Wednesday? And why mead?

“I brought you mead to drink because it’s traditional. And right now we need all the tradition we can get. It seals our bargain.”

Okay, so Mr. Wednesday is obsessed with tradition and…he’s a mythical being as well? Why else is he hiring Shadow to help him, almost like Shadow is a bodyguard? (Or his own shadow DO YOU GET IT IT’S A GREAT PLAY ON WORDS). How does he know a leprechaun? How does he know the reason why those “everybody-shuts-up-at-once” moments happen? As I started asking myself these questions, it seemed more and more obvious that Mr. Wednesday was some form of a metaphysical being. I don’t think he’s lying about pretty much everything he tells Shadow in this chapter. It would be too easy to just write him off as someone who’s a habitual liar and a bit delusional.

So Shadow accepts that this all just a tad strange and agrees to work for Mr. Wednesday, though not before making a few demands, which includes going to Laura’s funeral and working for $500 per week, to be raised to $1000 a week if he lasts six months. He also stipulates that he’ll hurt people if necessary, but will not go back to prison. Mr. Wednesday responds by telling him he won’t have to, which also seemed more like a promise that he could control. What sort of power does Mr. Wednesday have? Why does he require that Shadow drink three glasses of mead to seal the deal?

Mr. Sweeney himself is not above being weird as fuck either. After catching Shadow playing with a coin, demonstrating his ability to master illusions, the leprechaun pulls multiple gold coins out of thin air. But it’s not a magic trick, and Gaiman makes that clear from the way he writes it. Mr. Sweeney is actually able to create coins out of nothing. Yeah, there’s no way he’s not a leprechaun. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE. MUST KNOW MORE.

What I’m enjoying about this book so far, and what keeps me interested, is that Gaiman takes what we’ve seen so far, and then he makes it stranger. As I said before, he has a very direct style, so there’s not an incredulous tone when Mr. Sweeney orders Shadow to fight him in order to learn how he pulled off that coin “trick” of his. There’s no shock when we learn that Mr. Sweeney is entirely serious. Shadow quickly just assumes that this is some sort of test that Mr. Wednesday set up and obliges Mr. Sweeney in a brutal fight in the bar. This might be my favorite detail, though:

He became very aware of the audience around them. Tables were pulled out of the way with protesting groans, making a space for the men to spar.

I love that it almost implies that the bar, full of regulars, is used to this occurring on a weekly basis, and it’s irritating that they have to accommodate it.

“So how’d you do the coin production?” asked Shadow. He swayed back and twisted, took a blow on his shoulder intended for his face.

“To tell the truth,” grunted Sweeney, “I told you how I did it when first we spoke.”

SEE? What did he say when they were first talking? That he was a leprechaun. IT’S TRUE, ISN’T IT.

After slipping on an ice cube, Mr. Sweeney finally yields to Shadow. (I can’t help but use the word “yield” after reading so much of A Song of Ice and Fire. SORRY IT’S INGRAINED IN MY HEAD NOW.) In celebration of the victory, Shadow begins to drink, heavily, while Sweeney falls asleep. Who does that??? Apparently a living leprechaun. WHY CAN’T I BE HIM.

The narration skips to the next morning, where we learn that Shadow has forgotten most of the night before, waking up with a hang over in the backseat of Wednesday’s car. Where the two are ultimately headed is a mystery, but first, they stop so that Shadow can clean himself up in a gas station. There’s another incredibly bizarre scene here, and it’s one that I don’t have the slightest clue about. Wednesday essentially fakes being confused about using cash and credit. “He seemed very old, suddenly,” is how Shadow observes it. Wednesday was obviously on the verge of tears, an old man made helpless by the implacable plastic march of the modern world. At first, I assumed this merely meant that he was genuinely confused by such a thing, but back at the car, Shadow points out that he knows Wednesday did this on purpose, getting free gas in the process.

“So what are you? A two-bit con artist?”

Wednesday nodded. “Yes,” he said. “I suppose I am. Among other things.”

And I accepted this, too, despite that I wasn’t sure why he would do that. Wednesday didn’t seem to have a limited amount of money, so why con someone out of a tank of gas? I was confused, admittedly, the more I thought about this, but I didn’t know what it all meant, so I put it in the back of my mind. Wednesday drives Shadow through Eagle Point, and he sees how much his town has changed in the three years. The Muscle Farm is closed indefinitely. No Super-8. A Wendy’s in its place. His wife is dead. They’re all part of this new world, and it’s one he feels numb towards. But it’s nothing compared to his experience when he goes to see Laura for the last time. I can’t imagine how bizarre it must be to enter a room full of people who recognize you, but haven’t seen you in three years, who don’t greet you, and who only look on with a mixture of fear and sadness. Even Audrey Burton, the widow of Shadow’s best friend, doesn’t recognize him. Maybe Shadow has changed too much. Or maybe her grief is too powerful.

Audrey placed her spring of summer violets on Laura’s chest. Then she pursed her blackberry-colored lips, worked her mouth for a moment and spat, hard, onto Laura’s dead face.

WHAT IS THIS BOOK DOING. What??? Why would you do that? What did Laura do? Shadow chases after her and….oh lord.

“They didn’t tell you?” Her voice was calm, emotionless. “Your wife died with my husband’s cock in her mouth, Shadow.”

She turned away, walked out into the parking lot, and Shadow watched her leave.

He went back into the funeral home. Someone had already wiped away the spit.

THIS BOOK. THIS BOOK. Good god. I hate even typing this sentence, because it’s basically asking for the opposite, but HOW COULD THIS GET ANY WORSE FOR SHADOW. Oh, he could ride to the funeral with Laura’s mother, who not only blames Shadow for Laura’s death, but thinks he’s a barbarian. THAT’S PLEASANT. THAT’S TOTALLY REASONABLE. And look, Laura’s funeral itself is goddamn depressing. I liked that Gaiman matched Shadow’s emotion with the weather, casting the sky with an “featureless” grey. I also liked that Shadow didn’t have some giant speech prepared for his wife, either; he just gives her the gold coin he got from Sweeney, says good night to her, and then, “I’m sorry.” That’s it.

Afterwards, Audrey strangely tries to give Shadow a ride, which…seriously, you just spit on his dead wife’s face. I don’t think he’s in the mood. I’m just guessing here, okay??? But she’s oblivious to how awful she sounds, trying to give Shadow a justification for what she did.

Shadow turned. “Do you want me to tell you that you were right when you spit in Laura’s face? Do you want me to say it didn’t hurt? Or that what you told me made me hate her more than I miss her? It’s not going to happen, Audrey.”

She drove beside him for another minute, not saying anything. Then she said, “So, how was prison, Shadow?”

“It was fine,” said Shadow. “You would have felt right at home.”

CAN YOU FEEL THE BURN. Holy shit. Thankfully, I think she gets the message and she finally leaves Shadow alone. And he truly is alone, in every sense, his whole family gone, his friends gone, and he walks alone in the snow back to the hotel where he’s supposed to meet Wednesday. However, we only think he’s alone, because after he trips into the snow and mud, he’s attacked from behind and passes out after getting a mouthful of…chloroform? Does that actually work? I’ve always wondered that. It seems like a convenient thing to use, and it happens so often, that I’m not sure it’s actually real.

Anyway….well. WELL. In the last pages of chapter two, we’re introduced to what appears to be the main conflict, though I am bewildered by what I just read. Clearly, Wednesday has some mortal enemies of his own, but…what. what WHAT IS GOING ON. From what I can tell, the people who capture Shadow are young. In fact, the main guy refers to a group of his minion as “the children.” Why are they so young? It’s clear that they despise Wednesday so much?

“You tell Wednesday this, man. You tell him he’s history. He’s forgotten. He’s old. And he better accept it. Tell him that we are the future and we don’t give a fuck about him or anyone like him. His time is over. Yes? You fucking tell him that, man. He has been consigned to the Dumpster of history while people like me ride our limos down the superhighway of tomorrow.”

I know that Gaiman has a beautiful thing for words, and I can’t ignore how this teen posits Wednesday as being ancient, whereas he and his cohorts are young. Is this a clash of old versus new? This kid’s entire language is of technology. Reality has been “reprogrammed.” Language is called a “virus,” and religion is an “operating system,” and prayers are “spam.” This has to be intentional. But why?

“You should know that if we do fucking kill you then we’ll just delete you. You got that? Once click and you’re overwritten with random ones and zeros. Undelete is not an option.”

What are you talking about? WHY DOES THIS ALL HAVE TO DO WITH THE “dominant fucking paradigm?” What has Shadow got himself into? A mess, I’m sure, but I’M LOST.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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150 Responses to Mark Reads ‘American Gods’: Chapter 2

  1. Ida says:

    I love how Shadow reacts to everything. It's just so… matter-of-factly. Okay, that guy knows everything about me. That's irritating. That guy is a leprechaun. So why doesn't he speak with an Irish accent? Bless you, Shadow. I also love his name. Shadow is a wonderful name, and it fits him so well.
    I just have to say that whenever I try to picture Shadow in my head, he looks like a darker version of Neil Gaiman. What would you make of that?

    Seeing it this way, I realize how fucking DEPRESSING and bizarre this book is. And that says a lot, given that it's written by the guy who wrote The Sandman. I think the times I've read it myself, I was just too busy being excited at its awesomeness. All the realism just goes on, because Gaiman just puts it there among all the weirdness. I love him so much.

    I am very proud that I quickly figured out who Wednesday was. But then again, I am a sucker for all forms of folklore and mythology.

  2. hansfish says:

    Fun fact! Chloroform is actually toxic to humans, so when it knocks you out it's actually just poisoning you slightly. (This is why it's so easy to screw up giving someone chloroform and, uh. You know. Kill them instead.)

  3. Ryan Lohner says:

    My theory is that the limo guys are a personification of technology itself, created due to modern people worshipping their gadgets so much. While Wednesday and the others are of the old world, and are starting to become obsolete.

    Love Sweeney already, and I hope we see a lot more of him. His presence actually kind of reminded me of the infamous Daria episode Depth Takes a Holiday, and how this story is kind of that one done right.

    • arctic_hare says:


      • Nomie says:

        I’ve been working my way through my Daria box set while I pack for a move, and that was the only episode I couldn’t finish so far. UGH. WHYYYYYYY.

        (The big wet rainstorm’s overrrrrr!)

        [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ‘0 which is not a hashcash value.

  4. cait0716 says:

    It’s like Shadow is merely existing to get punched in the face over and over again.

    I really love Mad Sweeney. Except for the height, he's everything I would expect from a leprechaun. Drinking and fighting and producing gold from thin air. I also love the little detail that Jack's Crocodile Bar does not in fact have any crocodiles, but is full of alligators. And Shadow is probably the only one who even notices.

    I know the kid in the limo is described as a young man, barely out of his teens, but I still imagine a snotty, pimply 15-year-old who thinks he's better than he is. Maybe when I'm older, this kid will get older, too.

    • MelvinTheBold says:

      "Maybe when I'm older, this kid will get older, too."

      He seems more like one of those people who won't. Some people are always 15 and pimply, no matter how elderly they may get.

  5. John Small Berries says:

    "Wednesday didn’t seem to have a limited amount of money, so why con someone out of a tank of gas?"

    Because he can?

  6. knut_knut says:

    “Which I kind of want to try because I fucking love chili.”

    I’m glad I’m not the only one who had this reaction. Does she put the beer IN the chili? All books should come with recipes in the back.

    My face when Mr. Sweeney said he was a leprechaun: ?_? ????????????? This book is so straight forward that I just wasn’t buying it and kept trying to find a logical explanation despite him CLEARLY being one. Leprechauns eat lucky charms cereal and sprinkled gold glitter on the floor of my 2nd grade classroom! They’re not 7ft tall, getting into bar fights! Now that I’ve gotten used to the idea, I kind of love Mr. Sweeney. Glitter is a nuisance anyway.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      I like how Gaiman adds in that Shadow duplicated the recipe exactly but it still wasn't the same. Kind of a disclaimer of "Don't blame me if you try this and it doesn't live up to the hype."

    • Maya says:

      My roommate made chili with beer in it. It was super delicious.

    • FlameRaven says:

      Neil Gaiman himself doesn't seem to be much of a recipe person; he's talked on his blog about how one day he made the perfect porridge, but as his cooking is mostly adding random bits of things, he could not actually remember how to recreate it, and spent months experimenting to get it right. I can see Laura's chili being much the same.

      Actually, I ran into this frustration when I was trying to write down all my dad's old family recipes for dishes I loved. He had a stack of cards with the recipes, but they were usually just a list of ingredients with a few measurements, many of them as vague as "a dash of salt" or "a handful of x." No cooking time, temperature, or any instructions on how to mix them together. Most of it I had to learn by sitting and cooking with my dad, since the only way to tell if you're doing it right is if it looks or smells right.

      • knut_knut says:

        I think that’s how you should cook but it’s nice to have a base recipe to tweak 🙂 My mom cooks the same way. She buys all these cook books, glances at the ingredients, closes the book, and does her own thing. It works, though! She learned to cook by watching her mom cook and tasting the food to see if it needed anything else. Unfortunately, my sister and I were never allowed in the kitchen while my mom was in there because she thought we were annoying and distracting 🙁

        • FlameRaven says:

          The first few times I make a dish I follow the recipe pretty exactly. Once I've memorized it I start small variations. But overall I mostly trust other people to come up with much tastier things than I can.

        • cait0716 says:

          That is the complete opposite of my mom (who is a chemist, which may explain things). She follows recipes exactly. If something says "a dash of salt" or "season to taste" she CANNOT make the dish. If a recipe says it serves 4 and we'll have 7 people eating dinner, she doesn't double the recipe (that would result in leftovers) she 7/4ths it. She will use fractions of an egg if she needs to. Her food is all delicious, but incredibly meticulous.

          • pennylane27 says:

            I need exact instructions too. I am always afraid I will add too much salt or pepper or whatever and the food will be ruined. But I was always hopeless with fractions, so I would probably double the recipe – moar food for me later!

          • FlameRaven says:

            Ha! I had a roommate who was a pharmacist. He would carefully measure out the water for ramen to get the exact amount needed. When we teased him about this, he said "I don't want it to be too concentrated or dilute!" No one else could see the need for such precision. A few milliliters either way… probably not going to make a difference.

          • knut_knut says:

            Wooooooooooooow that’s really impressive! How long does it take her to cook? I guess if she’s used to it the whole process doesn’t take her very long. I was always taught that in cooking the measurements didn’t matter much but baking you have to be exact. I hate hate HAAAAAAAAAAAAATE when I halve a recipe and the original called for 1 egg. Do I give up and buy more butter so I don’t have to halve the recipe in the first place or do I suck it up and battle through trying to cut an egg in half?

            • cait0716 says:

              It can definitely take a while.

              If you scramble the egg before adding it to whatever you're cooking, you can treat it like any other liquid. Usually it's about 1/4 cup, so half an egg become 1.5 tablespoons.

              I'm slowly weaning myself from this method and trying to experiment a bit, but it's not easy.

              • knut_knut says:

                That’s normally what I end up doing but there’s always a little part of me going BUT WHAT IF! What if it’s not right and then the cookies taste TERRIBLE AND EVERYONE DIES????

                I’m definitely not at the experimental stage with most dishes, but there are a few that I’m comfortable enough with to deviate from the recipe.

          • notemily says:

            Dude, your mom is like Alton Brown! Except that he actually does use "a pinch of salt" in his recipes. I love food chemistry.

        • With my mum, I stand just outside the door of the kitchen awaiting her instructions – experience has taught me that (especially since we have a small kitchen) this is the best method of helping her.

          Randomly though, I didn't learn to cook from her or from "food technology" lessons at school. I learnt from a combination of seeing my grandpa cook things and watching A HECK OF A LOT OF TV.

          That's right, TV has actually proved incredibly useful for something 😀

          • monkeybutter says:

            I learned how to chop veggies efficiently from America's Test Kitchen, so I will second that! Food programs are useful!

    • monkeybutter says:

      She puts beer (stout probably) AND red wine in the chili. And yeah, I've had beer chili before and it was good, but I never complain about chili. Same with stew. I want to eat cold weather food now, dammit.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      My dad always puts a little bit of beer. Sometimes a dash of red-wine. Th alcohol burns away, but it leaves just a titch of flavour behind. (Good chili recipes and their ilk are important things to know in life.)

      And yes, its brilliant how straight forward he is.

    • pica_scribit says:

      My best friend's husband is from Northern Ireland. He jokes that he won't eat Lucky Charms because he finds them offensive.

  7. kasiopeia says:

    I love how the funeral scene is written. In a bizarre, sad way. It feels real and of course her family wont like Shadow, even if he didn't do anything wrong (towards Laura at least).

    And the fight with the leprechaun is amazing 😀 And then he just falls asleep XD

  8. You should know that if we do fucking kill you then we’ll just delete you.
    It's all about the Pentiums, baby!

    Jbhyq lbh ybbx ng gung, frpbaq puncgre bs guvf obbx. Gur cybg vf EVTUG GURER. Bar guvat V ybir nobhg guvf obbx vf gung sbe, yvxr, gjb-guveqf bs gur obbx, vg'f fbeg bs hapyrne jung vg'f ernyyl nobhg orpnhfr Funqbj vf fvzcyl tbvat nobhg univat jrveq tbqyl nqiragherf, ohg evtug shpxvat urer, Tnvzna rfgnoyvfurq gung gur obbx vf nobhg gur jne orgjrra gur byq naq arj tbqf.

    • FlameRaven says:

      V XABJ. Zna, V fgnegrq guvf obbx ntnva ynfg avtug, naq V'z ernqvat puncgre 1 naq V'z yvxr UBYL FUVG GUVF VF BOIVBHF. V zrna, abg bayl qb jr unir Ybj Xrl Ylrfzvgu, jubfr anzr vf fb pyrne nf gb or ernyyl qvfgenpgvat, ohg gurer ner fb znal pyhrf nobhg Ze. Jrqarfqnl. Bar bs uvf rlrf vf qnexre terl guna gur bgure, ur zragvbaf "n yvggyr gubhtug … n yvggyr zrzbel", ur zragvbaf vg vf "uvf qnl"… fb znal pyhrf. V erzrzore orvat ernyyl pbashfrq gur svefg gvzr V ernq guvf, ohg ba erernq, xabjvat gur cybg (naq orvat zhpu byqre naq zber snzvyvne jvgu Tnvzna'f jbexf) rirelguvat vf evtug gurer naq fb boivbhf nf gb or oyngnag.

      • Mauve_Avenger says:

        Fcrnxvat bs gubhtug naq zrzbel: V qba'g erzrzore vs vg jnf va guvf puncgre be gur svefg bar abj, ohg V'z nyzbfg pbzcyrgryl fher gung jr'ir rapbhagrerq Uhtvaa naq Zhavaa nyernql. V guvax gurl jrer fvggvat ba n cbjre yvar?

        • knut_knut says:

          Lrf! Gurer jrer 2 pebjf fvggvat ba n cbjre yvar va guvf puncgre (be znlor vg jnf ynfg…cerggl fher vg jnf guvf bar)

    • trva says:

      gah I'm trying to remember the cypher for this and its not coming… anyone want to help me out w/ the name?

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Nu, ohg urer'f gur guvat. Lbh qba'g xabj vg evtug sebz gur fgneg. Lbh guvax vgf nyy nobhg gur jne orgjrra byq naq xarj, ohg rira gur pyhrf ner cneg bs bar tvnag pba.

      Orpnhfr, p'zba, gur byq tbqf unir arire orra avpr.

      • cait0716 says:

        Gehr. Gur onax wbo gurl chyy va gur arkg puncgre vf gur gehr sberfunqbjvat bs gur cybg. Ohg guvf jubyr obbx vf bar ovt fyrvtug bs unaq, fb lbh arire xabj vg hagvy gur irel raq. Tnvzna vf dhvgr gur zntvpvna

  9. pennylane27 says:

    Ok then. I think I understood… wait, I understand nothing.

    I'm on holiday and procrastinating, so yesterday as I was reading the chapter on my Kindle for PC, I highlighted some parts and took notes. I HAVE TOO MUCH FREE TIME.


    Wednesday is eating a rare steak. Look, I like undercooked meat, but so bloody and blue it might never have been introduced to a kitchen flame? Is he a werewolf? Did he get bitten by Greyback like Bill?

    Sweeney. Like you Mark, I believe he is actually a leprechaun. And someone needs to explain the coin tricks slang to me. I think it's going to be important later, but I'm at a point where I think everything's important, so yeah.

    I love "Fool on the Hill" by The Beatles.

    The funeral and Audrey's revelation were just awful. I was kind of expecting something like that since Shadow read they were in the car together, but nothing so explicit. I don't understand how she didn't… er, move when she felt the car swerving though.

    Finally, the limo. I laughed at Shadow's suspicion the young man had practised smoking in that impressive way in the mirror. Also, what the hell is he smoking? Why would you smoke toad-skins?

    I agree with you Mark on the technological language he uses. And the passage when he talks about reprogrammed reality has been highlighted by thirteen people on Kindle. Look, I don't know.

    So basically I'm lost too.

    • knut_knut says:

      UUUGH Mr. Wednesday’s steak made me feel SO SICK. I like meat but I like it REALLY, REALLY DEAD. I don’t care if it ~ruins the meat~ I want it well done. The smell, look, touch, EVERYTHING about raw meat makes me nauseous 🙁

      Don’t some toad skins have psychoactive properties? So I guess he was smoking them to get high

      • pennylane27 says:

        Ooooooh, that's why! I just wikipedia-ed bufotenin and while there are many chemistry symbols and words I do not understand, I got psychedelic and psychoactive, so you're right.

        Still, that sounds disgusting.

        And well done meat is kind of a blasphemy in my house, we all like it juicy and red, but nowhere near what Wednesday's eating. And I'm going to stop writing about meat because I'm getting hungry and some people might find it off-putting. 🙂

      • elusivebreath says:

        lol I am the opposite of this! If I could just cut if off of the cow and eat it then, I would. Actually that sounds really gross.

      • Marie says:

        Me too! I can barely even deal with a little bit of pink, much less rare. Way too nauseating.

    • tanbarkie says:

      Blue steak is best steak. Don't sully the interior with heat!

    • Wednesday is eating a rare steak. Look, I like undercooked meat, but so bloody and blue it might never have been introduced to a kitchen flame? Is he a werewolf? Did he get bitten by Greyback like Bill?

      That's how I like my steak – only formally introduced to the grill. 😀

      Why would you smoke toad-skins?

      I reckon he's seen that episode of the X-Files with the toad-licking.

  10. FlameRaven says:

    So I've caught up, now. I had forgotten how long the chapters in this book are. 30 or so pages each. I guess I'm just used to shorter chapters, or maybe it's just that Gaiman's other works are not nearly as long (I think most of his other books are around 300 pages tops).

    Anyway, I was curious to see how much of this story is "real" so I started looking up locations. Eagle Point, IN is a real place. It's a bit east of South Bend. (Tried to post a link to Google Maps, but my code keeps getting destroyed.) Well, I think it's actually a location within Penn, IN, some kind of marina or something, but still. I couldn't find anything for Nottamun, though.

    One thing that's striking me on reread is just how many clues Gaiman is giving us into the nature of things. Little pieces of things, all over the place. But I won't spoil the surprise by pointing any of them out. I will say that I am liking this book much more than I remember; it has never been one of my favorite Gaiman books, but I think I'm seeing the sense of it now. Even the creepy-as-hell sex scene in the last chapter had some poetic elements in the man's "prayer."

    I'm looking forward to reading the rest of this bit by bit, and maybe catching more things that I didn't notice the first time.

    • cait0716 says:

      This is one of those books that a lot better the second time through. You can't help but miss the majority of the hints on your first read, so going back and picking them all out is a lot of fun.

      • FlameRaven says:

        I think another major problem is that the first time I read this book I was like 16, and a lot less familiar with Gaiman's work and the types of themes he uses. At about the same age I was reading Game of Thrones, and I remember finding that series very confusing and overwhelming. I felt much the same way about American Gods. Everything just seemed too subtle and I was really frustrated since I couldn't figure out what was going on. Now that I know what happens, it does help in picking out some of the early clues… but I think the greater part of it is just that I am much older and pick up on things I couldn't as a teenager.

        • cait0716 says:

          That makes sense. I was 18 when I read this book, and it was my first Gaiman, too. I was content, at that point, to just go where the story took me. I didn't worry too much about details, and I liked the story well enough. It definitely sparked an interest in both MORE GAIMAN and mythology of all kinds. When I came back to the book years later with a better knowledge-base, I enjoyed it a whole lot more.

          • FlameRaven says:

            This wasn't my first Gaiman; I think I had read a number of his other works. But I guess I was expecting something more like Neverwhere (the book) where you get a feel of the world mostly through hints, and not all that much is really clearly described. This book felt a lot bigger and more complicated than his other stories, and also more subtle, so I had a hard time picking up on what was going on. His other books are a bit more straightforward.

            Mind you, given the plot of this book, the subtlety makes sense, but I didn't appreciate that when I was younger.

      • Elexus Calcearius says:

        I should probably pick up a copy then. The first time I read it I was borrowing a friend's, but I bet there's tonnes of little clues.

        • FlameRaven says:

          I have no idea where my copy of American Gods went, but fortunately I live in a house with 2 other bibliophiles, which means we have 2-3 copies of most anything Gaiman.

  11. Maya says:

    Wow, I've forgotten a ton of stuff from this book. I really need to get my hands on a copy *kicks the library for having all of them checked out rn*

  12. pennylane27 says:

    Oh and

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    That last one reminds me that's how I'm picturing the young man in the limo.

  13. fandomphd says:

    I always thought "protesting groans" referred to the sounds the tables made as they were moved… your interpretation is more fun, though!

  14. Elexus Calcearius says:

    And so it begins.

    I'm going to be very interested to see how long it takes you, and other first time readers, to hook onto this story's concept. Some of you will be quicker first. But the thing about Gaiman, is that he's a lot like Rowling in some ways. They both lay down clues. Keep your eyes out. We're watching.

    • James says:

      I'm a first time reader, but this stuff is my jam and I've read a fair bit of Gaiman (including Sandman) so I know to look for stuff but yeah. I've known who Wednesday is pretty much since he gave his name 😀 SO MUCH JOY.

  15. monkeybutter says:

    It's hard to talk about this without spoilers, but I'm really enjoying your confusion. I guess I'll just focus on other things that this chapter reminds me of!

    I can't see or hear "Walkin' After Midnight" without imagining Hank Hill dancing with Ladybird wearing a red cowboy hat. For me, it just underscores the AMERICA of Jack's Crocodile Bar and Mad Sweeney's appearance. Then there's the limo full of pimply jerks at the end of the chapter, whose words remind me of some themes in Snow Crash, and I think an association with cyberpunk and trying really hard to be really cool (synthetic toad skins!) really works for them. Also, I think what they say about language being a virus is pretty true. Just look at the ASOIAF vocab leaking into your review! But don't worry, we don't have to intervene until you start throwing around "craven" and "helm."

    • vannevar says:

      Going on with the cyberpunk connection to things, "Language Is a Virus" was a song by Laurie Anderson:
      [youtube DZkjoXyexKk youtube]
      it was arguably inspired by Burroughs, as it crops up in his book [i]The Ticket that Exploded[/i]. But the song references some of her work from [i]Big Science[/i] — and in [i]Neuromancer[/i], arguably the codifier for all things cyberpunk, it's no mistake that the precursor to the Panther Moderns are called the Big Scientists.

      • calimie says:

        I should read some Burroughs, all my "language is a virus" references take me to Grant Morrison (I simply adore his The Invisibles). I love the concept, it's so true!

      • monkeybutter says:

        This is a great comment, and I really need to read some more Burroughs.

    • knut_knut says:

      Ooo, I like your cyberpunk connection! If/when they get the miniseries going I'm excited to see how they'll interpret the limo guys.

      As long as Mark doesn't start using "teats" I'm ok with the ASOIAF vocab

    • notemily says:

      Haha, the way the kids in the limo talk is basically what I think of when I think of cyberpunk. "Hey, look at me, I have ~technology~ and I'm so cool!" It's… not my favorite genre, to say the least.

      • monkeybutter says:

        lol I like some of the genre, but I see it the same way you do. If Gaiman is making fun of it, I'm on board!

  16. pica_scribit says:

    I'm gonna take this opportunity to defend the awesomeness that is mead. I dunno what kind of mead you're gonna find at a quirky bar in the midwest, but I would assume it's not the good stuff. Having tried dozens of varieties in my lifetime, I have to say that some of it is amazing. Best stuff I've had? Moniak Mead from Scotland. Seriously, if you ever get the opportunity…. Greatest variety of quality mead? The Meadery of the Rockies in Colorado.

    • FlameRaven says:

      Crocodile Jack's definitely doesn't seem like they'd have any quality stuff, but there is a winery in Bloomington, IN called Oliver that does produce mead, which I've had and it's pretty good. It's totally conceivable that the bar could get it from there– Oliver's stuff is generally about $6 a bottle but is very tasty for all that.

    • arctic_hare says:

      Yeah, good mead is way better than the swill Wednesday's got Shadow chugging here.

    • cait0716 says:

      Neil Gaiman has said that he's had both very good and very bad mead and he simply thought it would be funnier to make Shadow drink the bad mead.

      I've had some awesome mead and also highly recommend it to anyone and everyone

      • Avit says:

        What's it like? I'm planning to have a test-taste-fest in December, but no harm asking…

        • cait0716 says:


          Honestly, it depends on what gets mixed in with the honey. When I lived in Boulder, I went to the Redstone Meadery a lot, and they had tons of varieties. In general, it's lighter and sweeter than either wine or beer, and the alcohol content is similar to wine.

          There are really as many varieties of mead as there are of wine or beer, though. Usually some sort of fruit will be blended in, berries or peaches or something. I had one with grapes once that was a bit like watered down wine.

          • pica_scribit says:

            Meads made with fruit are generally called melomels, unless it's grapes and then it's pyment. Mead with herbs or spices in is a metheglin. Yeah, I'm sort of a mead geek.

        • pica_scribit says:

          Anything from really, really sweet to completely dry, dark to pale gold, rich honey flavour to sickly sugar water. The best stuff is amazing. The worst, as Sweeney says, is diabetic piss.

    • I have a bottle of mead chilling in my refrigerator at home right now. I live in a wine state, and I love it.

  17. pica_scribit says:

    Oh, by the way, the Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab does an AWESOME line of perfumes based on Neil Gaiman's works, seven of them out of American Gods. (I'm a total BPAL addict; been trading imps online for years.) That link is full of SPOILERS, obviously. The description for their Mad Sweeny blend is "barrel-aged whiskey and oak". Bilquis is "honey, myrrh, lily of the valley, rose otto, fig leaf, almond, ambrette, red apple, and warm musk." Proceeds from their Gaiman collection go to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

  18. arctic_hare says:

    Man, there isn't much I can say here that's not spoilery, sadly. Except for "you are not prepared" and "keep your eyes open for clues".

    Guvf puncgre vf fjvzzvat va gurz. Gur xvq va gur yvzb, Jrqarfqnl'f rlrf, Fjrrarl pnyyvat uvz n gerr-unatre… bu tbq, V ybyrq fb uneq ng gung bar jura V svefg ernq vg. V nyernql xarj jub ur jnf, bs pbhefr, fb vg jnf uvynevbhf gb zr. V'z unccl gb fnl V fcbggrq zbfg bs gur tbqf va guvf obbx evtug bss gur ong, orpnhfr V'z n ovg bs n zlgu trrx. Abefr vf zl snibevgr, fb V tbg Ybxv naq Bqva rnfvyl, naq V jnf gvpxyrq cvax ol gur Vovf naq Wnpdhry Shareny Ubzr. FB. CRESRPG. <3

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Hasbeghangryl sbe zr, V'z yrnfg snzvyvne jvgu gur Abefr tbqf, fb V jnf fybjre ba gur hcgnxr, nygubhtu V thrffrq Ybxv va nqinapr. V jvfu gurer unq orra zber Terrx tbqf; gung'f zl fgebat cbvag.

  19. pennylane27 says:

    I've just remembered that mead appears in Harry Potter too! Hagrid drinks mulled mead in PoA and Slughorn was giving mead to Dumbledore for Christmas, and then Ron gets poisoned.

    • Pseudonymph says:

      I've had mulled mead! It's delicious and perfect for the winter holidays because its spicy and warm. It made me think of Harry Potter, too. The kind I had came with spice packets and you just steep them in the mead after its been heated.

  20. ChronicReader91 says:

    At first I assumed Sweeney was joking about being a Leprechaun, but Gaiman quickly dispelled any inclination of mine to think metaphorically by having him PULL GOLD COINS FROM THIN AIR. I couldn’t help associate them with the Leprechaun gold from Harry Potter and I wondered if Shadow would find his coin had disappeared later. It was sweet that he put it on Laura’s grave. I hope that doesn’t have any unfortunate ramifications for him later. Speaking of Laura- Audrey, wtf? OK, you feel betrayed; I get it, but maybe save it for after the funeral?!? I was very happy Shadow told her off. Poor Shadow, by the way. You're absolutely right, he seems to be the universe's puching bag so far in the book.

    The kidnapping the end was really bizarre. The tech talk was over the top- even the most tech-savvy people don’t speak entirely in computer terms, so I’m guessing the young man is some kind of embodiment of the computer age? Or a computer himself? (OMG MAYBE HE’S A CYLON.)

  21. Appachu says:

    Mr. Wednesday should wear a black hat. That is all.

  22. Dent D says:

    Can I just say how wonderful Shadow's comments to Audrey are? I love that he still cares for Laura despite knowing how she died. The circumstances don't make it any easier to let go of her. At the same time, I kind of like Audrey even though we probably aren't supposed to. Yes her actions weren't really mature, but she comes across as a very realistic character.

    Sweeney! Beautiful, intense, drunk, tall Sweeney. I don't know why, but I really appreciate that Gaiman wrote "fucken" instead of "fuckin'". Small nuances in dialogue sometimes make all the difference. We're told he is a leprechaun, and if he really is you have to appreciate the loss of his Irish accent because he has "been here too fucken long". What kind of leprechaun emigrates to America?

    Lrf, gung ynfg dhrfgvba vf fbzrjung eurgbevpny vs lbh'ir nyernql ernq gur obbx!
    Bu zl tbq, V qba'g xabj vs Znex vf cercnerq sbe gur arkg gvzr jr zrrg Znq Fjrrarl, cbbe oybxr. Npghnyyl, cbbe Ovydhvf gbb. Gurl ner gur svefg gjb tbqf jr zrrg jub bhgevtug qrzbafgengr gurve tbq cbjref, naq gurl ner pnfhnygvrf va gur jne.

    And Mr Wednesday's con. The guy rides in first class, wears a nice suit and apparently has the assets necessary to give Shadow a job with certain guarantees. And yet he scams a cashier for free gas. What gives? He's another character that I was instantly drawn to liking even though for all intents and purposes he is a shady guy.

    Lrf, rira nsgre ernqvat NT gjvpr V fgvyy ybir Ze Jrqarfqnl. Ur'f whfg fb vapbeevtvoyr. V nz fher dhvgr n srj crbcyr jvyy or hcfrg jvgu uvf enzcnag frkvfz (vf vg arkg puncgre jr frr uvz fperjvat gur ubgry pyrex naq yngre gnyxvat nobhg oernfgf naq purrfr?) ohg gung vf uvf punenpgre, pregnvayl abg zrnag gb or Tnvznva rfcbhfvat uvf bja ivrjf. Ze Jrqarfqnl fperjrq bire fb znal crbcyr/orvatf/ragvgvrf va gur anzr bs uvf ovt pba, ohg V ernyyl erfcrpg rirelguvat ur frg hc. Naq gur eryngvbafuvc orgjrra uvz naq Funqbj vf pbzcyvpngrq va gur njshy naq njrfbzr jnl ng gur fnzr gvzr, V ybir vg.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Qba'g jbeel; rira gubhtu Ze. Jrqarfqnl vf frkvfg, vgf cerggl boivbhf ur'f zrnag gb or. Nalbar jub xabjf n fvatyr guvat nobhg zbfg zlgubybtvrf jvyy grfgvsl gung gur tbqf jrer hfhnyyl uhtr wrexf, naq Abefr zlgubybtl jnf ab rkprcgvba. Vgf uvf punenpgre!

  23. Jessica says:

    This is an American book. I went to one of Neil Gaiman’s 10th anniversary events this summer, and he talked about how and why this book is stylistically different from most of his other work, and that is both because the starkness of the narration reflects Shadow’s mood and because he wanted it to have the ‘transparency’ in the narrative akin to writers like Stephen King. Essentially because it is an American book. You get a little bit more of Gaiman’s usual voice in the ‘Somewhere in America’ sections, which are not from Shadow’s point of view. So, do not be surprised when you read other stuff of his and it is stylistically vastly different.

    He also talked about how very difficult it is to write from the point of view of a character who has had so much shit happen to him at the very beginning of the book that he is comfortable in his blank numbness and just accepted all the WEIRD SHIT that starts happening to him.

  24. tangeria says:

    i cannot wait until all is made clear for you. this book is one of my favorites, and one i re-read fairly often. neil gaiman is full of the awesome.

  25. BradSmith5 says:

    A new antagonist appears, and it looks like he's keylogged all of Shadow's passwords! He's got our hero's life in the recycle bin, his soul in a untitled folder, and his pride encrypted in a 2 gig zip drive! This dude's reformatting the hard drives of the UNIVERSE, man! 11001001!

    Okay, I can deal with the Irish stereotype. Especially one that doesn't have a phonetic accent. But that tech-talk from the geek was just a TAD too much.

  26. Hanah_banana says:

    OH MY GOD IT IS SO HARD READING ALONG WITH MARK AND NOT BEING ABLE TO SIT AND LAUGH BECAUSE I KNOW ALL THE ANSWERS. AND ALSO NOT BEING ABLE TO TRANSLATE EVERYONE'S rot13 TALK. I feel like I've just moved to a foreign country and I don't speak the lingo and all the cool kids are like 'yeah, we know what's going on BUT WE WON'T TELL YOU' and I just have to sit here and cry because I don't understand.

    This is literally the first time I've read anything along with Mark and DAMN it's hard. My respect levels for Mark just went flying through the roof because if every single day there were comments in rot13 I would read ahead just so I could know what the hell everyone was talking about.


    And, uh, this book continues awesome? Even though I DON'T UNDERSTAND it is about gods and being of theological academic bent this is very pleasing to me. 😀

  27. SorrowsSolace says:

    I'm so excited your reading this Mark. Gaiman's my favourite author and AG is my favoured book of his. The HSQ builds like mad and I do agree with some other folk here that for the most part his voice so to speak isn't as present as in other works. Still, the book has a way of staying with you, no matter how much time passed after you read it.

  28. Marie the Bookwyrm says:

    Ooooh, I just bought the 10th Anniversary edition a few weeks ago. I was afraid Mark had the original version, & I'd be reading stuff he didn't have & get confused!!!!! Anyway.

    After the first chapter I have to say that I kind of felt like I knew Laura & liked her. With Audrey's reveal, I actually felt a pang of disappointment. But Shadow, bless his heart, still loves her. And yeah, I like the way he told off Audrey.

  29. James says:

    I am so happy you've picked up that Wednesday is something more than he seems! I'm reading this for the first time, too, but I've known who he is since he gave us a name for himself (and I flailed because I suspected as much) and every subsequent hint and nod to that has made me flail ridiculously. I'm excited to see where this is going. I have my suspicions, but mostly I am a giddy little ancient geek.

  30. TalentedKitty13 says:

    Oh wow. So far behind. Must. Catch. Up. Totally had to reread chapter 1 in order to get caught up. Ok. So onto Chapter 2.

    When I first heard that Laura and Robbie died together in the car crash my first thought was, "I bet they're sleeping around with each other." Then when Audrey spat on Laura at the funeral parlour my suspicions were confirmed. (Yay! I'm a genius lol)

    Ok. Who on earth was it who kidnapped (and then subsequently released) Shadow?


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