Mark Reads ‘American Gods’: Chapter 3

In the third chapter of American Gods, I can barely comprehend what the fuck is going on. HOW IS THIS POSSIBLE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read American Gods.


Okay, I’m hooked. I can’t lie. I’m not at a point where I’m ready to propose to this book or anything, as I still have a loving affair going with the His Dark Materials trilogy, but I am comfortable stating that I am truly fascinated by what little I know about American Gods. I think I’m starting to get a handle on how this alternate history works, and chapter three provides more details that I think will be crucial towards understanding what this is all about.

I thought that perhaps Gaiman might push the plot forward more before I’d found out additional details about this world because…well, Wednesday is pretty stingy about giving Shadow any information on who the kid on the limo is. All he says is:

“I know who he is.” He sat down, heavily, on the room’s only chair. “They don’t have a clue,” he said. “They don’t have a fucking clue.”

That’s it! It’s clear that Wednesday will give information when he thinks it is necessary, and right now, it’s not necessary. So I resolved myself to accepting that I would just have to wait to find out what was going on. It seems Shadow resolves himself to the same, retiring to his own hotel room to take that bath he promised himself and to devour an entire pizza. (If you’re at all curious, Gaiman’s description of that episode of Jerry Springer is remarkably accurate. Though…does anyone remember the early days before his show turned into a circus? I swear it used to be a real talk show? But perhaps I’m imagining that.)

I expected that Shadow would wake up the next morning and we’d begin his journey to clean out his life in Eagle Point before he set off with Wednesday. I thought that Gaiman was giving us foreshadowing by having nearly every train of thought of Shadow’s lead straight back to Laura. Would this be his experience in their old apartment? Would getting rid of her possessions be a catharsis on his point?

He drifts off to sleep and haves another seemingly nonsensical dream. Well, it starts off that way, but it’s now obvious to me that this is not his imagination making up anything. Is someone sending him messages through his dreams? I’m not sure yet, but we’re given one of the most basic ideas of the universe of American Gods: there is a place that gods go when they are forgotten. Of course, this takes me back to the end of chapter one and Bilquis. Is she trying to avoid ending up here? Is she trying to keep herself alive? Does this mean that gods have physical bodies as long as someone believes them?

I don’t think Shadow has quite put all of this together. For now, the dream just disturbs him. All those statues of gods with unfamiliar names and unfamiliar shapes: what do they have to do with him? Why is he seeing them? My only guess is that someone or something showed Shadow the hall of the Gods in order to get him to understand what he’s gotten himself into. But if that’s the case, that doesn’t really explain what happens once he wakes up.

I actually had to read the sentence a couple times to make sure I didn’t misread the words upon the page:

There was a woman sitting on the side of his bed.

He knew her. He would have known her in a crowd of a thousand, or of a hundred thousand. She sat straight on the side of his bed. She was still wearing the navy-blue suit they had buried her in.

Her voice was a whisper, but a familiar one. “I guess,” said Laura, “you’re going to ask what I’m doing here.”

I think that’s a fair question. He’s hallucinating, I thought. It’s his grief. So I kept looking for signs to prove that this was just a vision, but instead, every detail that Gaiman provides suggest that she is physically there in front of him. Why can he smell “an odor of rot, of flowers and preservatives”? Is his hallucination that rich? Laura asks for a cigarette to calm her nerves, which is also bizarre. If she’s a vision or even a ghost, why would she need a cigarette? Shadow obliges her, and I honestly expected him to return and find that she wasn’t there at all, and he’d just shake off the experience as a by-product of his bottled-up grief.

Nope. She’s still there. He touches her when he gives her the cigarettes and the matches. Her fingers are cold. Meaning she has a physical body that he can touch. That’s not how ghosts work. So…what? Why is there mud under her fingernails?

The two begin to talk, awkwardly at first, and we learn that Laura was involved in the armed robbery that got Shadow put in jail, which certainly gives us a reason why she didn’t abandon him when he went to prison. They also discuss the three years he was away, and I’m pretty sure this is one of the most awkward things I’ve read in a long time. Shadow is talking to his dead wife about how cheating on him got her killed. To be fair, her justification isn’t all that surprising: she got lonely. Robbie and her became good friends. It just happened, and it continued for the next two years, until the night she died. And Shadow was wrong about what happened there, too. Laura was the drunk one, and her attempt at sexy times in the car is what got them killed.

The closure might help, but what is this all about? My own thoughts were wandering to how this was even possible.

“I don’t know much more than I did when I was alive. Most of the stuff I know now that I didn’t know then I can’t put into words.”

WELL, YOU’RE NO HELP AT ALL. Why are you even here? Why come back?

“You’ve gotten yourself mixed up in some bad things, Shadow. You’re going to screw it up, if someone isn’t there to watch out for you. I’m watching out for you. And thank you for my present.”

Well, yes, I agree that Shadow has no clue what he’s gotten himself into. But watch over him? Does this mean Laura is going to show up again? What does watching over him actually entail? Oh god, are guardian angels real, too? WTF.

Laura’s tongue flickered into Shadow’s mouth. It was cool, and dry, and it tasted of cigarettes and of bile. If Shadow had had any doubts as to whether his wife was dead or not, they ended then.

Well, that’s unsettling. His wife is dead. This is her actual body, the same one that was supposed to be buried. And she’s promised to “watch over him,” whatever that means.

Shadow looked out the doorway. The night clerk kept on reading his John Grisham novel, and barely looked up as she walked past him. There was thick graveyard mud clinging to her shoes. And then she was gone.

So it was real. It really happened. This was not a hallucination. And when Shadow immediately goes to get Wednesday to tell him what happens, this is outright confirmed. Well, first Shadow sees that Wednesday has the motel clerk in his bed. Okay. Wednesday ponders what Shadows tells him, then follows him to the other room, only clad in a white room towel. ALSO THIS IS IMPORTANT:

There was a white scar down one side of his torso.

As soon as I read that, I went A-HA! There is no way that Gaiman would include that if it were not important. The conversation between these two men is very brief. Shadow admits that he’s ready to leave town as soon as possible, Laura’s apartment be damned. So it looks like this journey is going to start a whole lot earlier than I anticipated. I like this. But for Shadow, there is a moment here where Gaiman allows him to take in the situation, and it’s a fairly gutting scene:

It had been a very long time since Shadow had cried, so long he thought he had forgotten how. He had not even cried when his mother died. But he began to cry then, in painful, lurching sobs. He missed Laura and the days that were forever gone.

For the first time since he was a small boy, Shadow cried himself to sleep.

I genuinely feel awful for Shadow.

Coming to America
813 A.D.

Oh. OH THIS PART. OH HOW I LOVE THIS SO MUCH. Like chapter one, Gaiman switches the point of view, this time focusing on a group of explorers? Exiles? Travelers? I’m not sure what to call them, but they seem to be willingly escaping their gods:

The men said, “We are far, far from our homes and our hearths, far from the seas we know and the lands we love. Here on the edge of the world we will be forgotten by our gods.”

I didn’t think these “gods” would be named, but the leader of this group tells a very specific story that made me SO UNBEARABLY EXCITED:

“The all-father made the world,” he shouted. “He built it with his hands from the shattered bones and the flesh of Ymir, his grandfather.”

THAT CAN ONLY BE ONE BEING: ODIN. ODIN. And if you know anything about Norse mythology, there is a VERY SPECIFIC ELEMENT TO ODIN’S STORY:

He sang of the nine days that the all-father hung from the world-tree, his side pierced and dripping from the spear-point (at this point his song became, for a moment, a scream), and he sang them all the things the all father had learned in his agony: nine names, and nine runes, and twice-nine charms.

WEDNESDAY IS ODIN. OH. MY. GOD. And there was that whole bit earlier where Shadow was sure Wednesday had a glass eye. ODIN GAVE UP ONE OF HIS EYES IN THE PURSUIT OF WISDOM. ;ka a;kdlfja df;a;lsdkfja sd;fh Does that mean Loki is somewhere in this? Oh god, ODIN IS REAL IN THIS BOOK. Holy shit, that is so awesome! And…oh my god. The scraeling. This is the story of the first Norse men who come to Greenland, isn’t it? IT IS. But what does this have to do with what’s going on now?

It was more than a hundred years before Leif the Fortunate, son of Erik the Red, rediscovered that land, which he would call Vineland. His gods were already waiting for him when he arrived: Tyr, one-handed, and gray Odi gallows-god, and Thor of the thunders.

They were there.

They were waiting.

Oh sweet christ, this book is going to be fun.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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152 Responses to Mark Reads ‘American Gods’: Chapter 3

  1. Heather R says:

    See, when I read that chapter last night, I got the impression the the Norsemen were afraid about being so far from home and from their gods. And the leader was telling them that if Odin made the world, why wouldn't he be in this part of it too.

    I thought they seemed reassured by the storm as proof that their gods(or at least one of them) were there with them.

    (Man, I haven't read this book in ages, so I'm trying really hard to stick to one chapter at a time and follow with you)

  2. cait0716 says:

    Shadow's bubble bath is just so sweet and sad. I have this great image of an over-sized man sitting in a tub that's a bit too small so the water and bubbles barely cover his thighs trying to relax. But he was going to have his bubble bath, damnit!

    I'm so excited you made the Odin = Wednesday connection! It took me a whole lot longer when I first read this book.

    I don't think the explorers were fleeing their gods so much as exploring and worried that they had reached a godless land. The leader assures them that Odin will be in this land, too, and that calms them down and cheers them up. Given that this book is American Gods, I'm pretty sure they landed in America, not Greenland. Also, the section is titled "Coming to America" Wasn't Vineland the name given to the northeastern coast? Massachusetts or Maine or so?

    The inclusion of the Springer show was kind of awesome. Just another great little detail to say this is America.

    • knut_knut says:

      Greenland is technically part of the Americas, isn't it? Although I'm pretty sure the title is referring to the US

      Vineland, or at least where Leif Ericson landed, is in Newfoundland I think

    • pica_scribit says:

      I assumed it was refering to the site of l'Anse Aux Meadows, the short-lived Viking settlement in Newfoundland.

      • cait0716 says:

        That's possible. Then again, the story says that they were lost to history and legend. So this probably doesn't refer to any settlement we can point to. It's just a group of random men who didn't manage to leave their mark on the world.

        • knut_knut says:

          Actually, you may have originally been right. According to wiki, which is always true and never lies, there may have been settlements in Maine and Massachusetts, although there’s really not enough evidence to prove anything. Plus, the gods can walk it’s not like they were confined to Massachusetts. When Gaiman said “They were there. They were waiting” I always picture a little gods welcoming party, so in my mind, the gods that were left behind could have walked to Newfoundland. 100 years is plenty of time!

          • cait0716 says:

            That's adorable. I've always had a much more sinister image in my mind, like a black cloud just waiting to engulf them when they reach the shore. But I like your image better. Now I see a little welcome banner and one of those baskets with muffins and stuff.

            • monkeybutter says:

              Hehe, I had imagined it darkly as well, but I much prefer the idea of Odin handing out guides to local sights while Thor and Tyr dole out muffins and freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. Norse God Welcome Wagon is my new head canon.

    • Mandy says:

      Yeah, it took me about three reads through the book to make the Wednesday = Odin connection. jeez.

  3. knut_knut says:

    Oh god, Shadow crying 🙁 SO SAD!!! I’m really glad he kind of dealing his grief, even though this whole situation is bizarre and might not be conducive to the whole healing process. At least he got answers??

    If I didn’t get that Wednesday is Odin by now I will build a time machine, travel back to when I was first reading this book and punch myself for being so damn thick. The only way Gaiman could be more obvious is if giant neon signs saying “HE IS ODIN” popped out of the book. Let’s mention Wednesday has a scar and then write about Odin having a scar. Call Wednesday an old tree-hanger and then go on a long spiel on how Odin is the gallows god.

    Question for knowledgeable people: What was with the shadow of a crow flying through Wednesday’s hotel door? I know practically nothing about Norse mythology (I need to learn more! Any suggestions on where to start?) and was confused. I know Odin has 2 crows but that’s about it.

    yby sberire ng Qbrf gung zrna Ybxv vf fbzrjurer va guvf?

    • cait0716 says:

      I'm a bit confused by the crow, too. Odin has ravens. So they could be flying out to see who's knocking on the door at 2 in the morning. Sort of like security or something. But then Shadow connects it to crows, not ravens, which seems weird. Of course, that could just be Shadow's ignorance.

      Frevbhfyl! V jbaqre ubj ybat vg jvyy gnxr uvz gb svther gung bar bhg.

      • knut_knut says:

        Oops *facepalm* I can’t tell the difference between crows and ravens, but between American Gods and ASoIAF it seems like ravens are the bird to have, not crows. Odin doesn’t have any connection with crows or birds in general too, does he?

        Fvapr jr fnj Uhtvaa naq Zhavaa ynfg puncgre V nffhzrq gurl jrer nyernql bhg qbvat uvf jbex fb V gubhtug znlor guvf pebj jnf qvssrerag sebz gur gjb bs gurz.

        • cait0716 says:

          No, I think he just has the two ravens and two wolves.

          I started looking some things up, but that is just a black hole of research that will suck up my day if I let it. Ravens and crows are pretty closely related, though, and almost interchangeable in some mythology

          • knut_knut says:

            Thank you!

            Yea, every time I try to looking something up on Norse mythology I find that I’ve spent all day on it and I’ve ended up somewhere completely unrelated, like species of cockroaches. Goddamn the internet and all its information!

    • Araniapriime says:

      Yes, Odin has two crows, Huginn and Muninn — thought and memory.

      • cait0716 says:

        Huginn and Muninn are ravens, not crows.

        • Araniapriime says:

          True, but most people can't tell the difference. Could you, if you saw one on the wing? (Check the shape of the tail.)

          • cait0716 says:

            Not at all. I don't think I could tell any of the large, black birds apart. So Shadow probably couldn't either. That could be Gaiman's intention, though it seems like a slightly odd detail

            • Araniapriime says:

              Ravens are much larger than crows. MUCH. Like, a hawk to a pigeon. Their call is different. And if they're flying, a crow has a rounded tail like a fan, while a raven's tail is pointy like an arrowhead. And ravens hate populated areas.

              • Marie the Bookwyrm says:

                Well this chapter is being told from Shadow's viewpoint. He probably doesn't know the difference between crows and ravens. And it looks like caito716 said basically the same thing. 🙂

    • pica_scribit says:

      Odin is often associated with two ravens called Huginn and Muninn (thought and memory).

    • Ida says:

      He has ravens. They represent Thought and Memory, and they are his spies, you could say. They fly around watching the world, and then they report for him. Thus, he knows everything that's going on in his kingdom.

      Also: YAY, ODIN! I already knew it, but then again, here's this little bonus point: The Swedish word for wednesday is "onsdag" – short for "Odens dag" or "Odin's day". Gaiman knows what he's doing. He always does his research. As I'm Swedish, I'm also rather familiar with the Norse mythology, and the title of the story as well as his name and the glass eye were dead giveaways!

    • Vikinhaw says:

      I actually got that Wednesday is Odin in the first chapter cause Wednesday comes from Woden's day and Woden is related to Odin. And when he said 'it might as well be Thursday' (Thor's day) in relation to the lightning I knew for sure.

  4. pica_scribit says:

    Glad you're enjoying this, Mark. Wasn't sure how familiar you were with Norse mythology, so didn't know how long it would take you to start sorting through some of the clues. For example, do you know that our names for the days of the week come from Norse Mythology? Thursday = Thor's day and all that?

    My degree is in Medieval History, and one of my profs was one of the foremost authorities on Viking Scotland, so I took a lot of classes about Medieval Scandinavian culture. Yeah, I love this book. Sort of makes me think of Douglas Adams' The Long, Dark Teatime of the Soul, even though the tone and setting is completely different.


  5. pica_scribit says:

    DON'T DO THIS! Mark likes to work these things out on his own. He will be super pissed if he sees this comment.

  6. roguebelle says:

    Scrambling this because I'm not sure if it would count as spoilers or not, so, erring on the side of caution:

    Cbbe Znex vf whfg tbvat gb unir gb tvir hc ba gur vqrn gung rirelguvat svgf gbtrgure va guvf obbx nf sne nf gur cybg'f pbaprearq. Tnvzna vf abg fb yvarne n fgbelgryyre. Urer, nf jvgu gur Fnaqzna frevrf, ur vapyhqrf ybgf bs cvrprf gung qba'g qverpgyl nssrpg gur znva cybg, gung qba'g arprffnevyl rira zrna nalguvat gb vg, ohg gung ner gurzngvpnyyl vzcbegnag, gung uvg fbzr qrterr bs erfbanapr. Vg'f bar bs zl snibhevgr guvatf nobhg Tnvzna'f fgbelpensg, ernyyl, vf gung vg tbrf fb sne orlbaq gur glcvpny aneengvir nep.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I agree very much. Vgf yvxr n chmmyr lbh unir gb fbyir. Gur cvpgher gnxrf n juvyr gb orpbzr pyrne.

    • notemily says:

      Zl snibevgr guvat nobhg Fnaqzna vf gung znal bs gur guvatf lbh guvax jrer whfg yvggyr guebjnjnl fgbevrf NPGHNYYL PBZR ONPX ng gur raq. V fgvyy qba'g xabj ubj ur qvq gung.

  7. alex says:

    well like you mark, I have very little clue about Gaiman other than the titles of the books he wrote, specically caroline, and the movies and tv shows he made- like stadust or mirrormask or the Awesome The Doctor's wife for doctor who.

    but this is looking Exciting (NORSE MYTHOLOGY!) so i'm glad you're sticking with it.

    mark watches on the other hand- seemed to have disappeared- what's going on with that?

  8. pennylane27 says:

    I know what you mean, Mark. I am so hooked my self-control is really being tested. I will not give in to the temptation to finish the book during the weekend.

    Soooooo, Wednesday is Odin. Sure, no big deal. I was not flailing and refraining from shouting something thus waking everyone up, and OMG JFKSAFJEIGSVNA CCANEGUHAFNSKA

    Seriously. I know almost nothing of Norse mythology, and I only realised it was Odin because I know that's the most important god. But that's about it, other than Thor and Loki. I enjoyed reading the comments with other clues, like the names of the days of the week. Oh dear god Gaiman rules.

    But now I can't stop wondering who still worships and remembers Odin, because he's not forgotten like the gods in the museum thingy, and if the others are still out there too, and why does Odin need a protector?

    Also, I can't stop picturing the explorers and therefore the gods as the Normans in Asterix. Like this:


    • Vikinhaw says:

      There are Neo-Pagans religions like Wicca which worship pre-Christian gods/goddess. I've met some Wiccans who worshiped Celtic gods/goddess. I don't really know that much about it but I'd imagine there must be some people somewhere who worship the Norse gods. Perhaps there are enough people to keep him around?

      Also that comic is great and I may now have to picture them like that

      • Mauve_Avenger says:

        Modern Norse paganism is called Asatru. Apparently it gets quite a bit of flak for racism because some people within that tradition think that only people with Norse/Germanic heritage can truly belong to the religion, which in turn feeds into the whole white power/racial supremacy thing. No doubt the belief that quite a few Nazis were immersed in those types of traditions would play into that perception, as well.

      • Rob Grebel says:

        My wife used to be Neo-Pagan, and her focus was on Norse mythology. In fact, her son was given the name "Thor-bjorn" (or something to that effect) at his Wiccaning. So yeah, there are enough of them out there that Odin would still exist in this particular mythology.

  9. pennylane27 says:

    Oh yeah, and Laura came back from the dead to watch over Shadow. Yep. That totally makes sense.

    This? Laura’s tongue flickered into Shadow’s mouth. It was cool, and dry, and it tasted of cigarettes and of bile. DEEPLY DISTURBING. jesus christ what is this book.

    • muselinotte says:

      My brain was already quite fuzzy from this book, and it still is… but that kiss made me go all O_o

  10. Maya says:

    Oh man, I forgot the reveal came this early. IDK why I thought it was like halfway through the book…maybe I was just really dense when I first read it and didn't figure it out until they spelled it out for us. But what a way to set things up! Gaiman is really good at ending chapters at a place where you're like "OH GOD I HAVE TO KEEP READING OR I WILL DIE." I love/hate him in that way.


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    Only because we had the Community gifs yesterday.

  11. Julezyme says:

    Mark, after you have read this book and figured it mostly out (probably won't figure it ALL out, not on a first read – although maybe you will, with the whole community here to help! i'm just saying this bc I sure as hell didn't) … Please go back and re-read it! Because as awesome as it is to figure out that Wednesday is Odin (which, props, you twigged way earlier than I did, which was with much head-smacking – "my day" and all), reading it again after you know, well, everything you will only know when you have finished the book, is very rearding indeed.
    Enough said!

  12. Angie says:

    The name in itself was actually a clue from the beginning. Odin was called "Woden" back when, and Wednesday was originally Wodensday — that's why it has the D in it, instead of being Wennsday or something more logical like that, considering how we pronounce it. Thursday was Thorsday and Friday was Frigsday, to continue the Norse Gods theme, at least in English.

    • Kiryn says:

      Would Tyrsday have been Tuesday then? Sorry, I'm really not that familiar with Norse mythology.

    • episkey825 says:

      I have to confess that I have almost no knowledge of Norse mythology and would have never understood any of this if I hadn't watched the movie Thor just last weekend. There is a part in the movie where they show a picture of Thor and the words Thor's day, or something like that, and I totally had a face-palm, mind-blown moment. I had no idea that Thursday was named after Thor. And now I'm reading this book and some of the same characters are being introduced and I'm getting this strange feeling, almost like deja vu or something. This is so exciting!

    • Jenni says:

      Sunday- Sunna Goddess of the sun

      Monday Mani god of the moon

    YES! I knew from the name alone, so I'm glad you've finally gotten there so I don't have to keep my mouth shut. Heh.


    • notemily says:

      *cbvagf naq ynhtuf*

    • @lnich says:


      Fcrnxvat bs Ybj-Xrl, V jbaqre ubj jryy gung zvfqverpg jbexf va gur nhqvbobbx, yby.

      • notemily says:

        Jung V guvax vf fb travhf nobhg gur Ybxv/Ybj Xrl guvat vf gung ol gur gvzr lbh ernyvmr Jrqarfqnl vf Bqva (nffhzvat lbh qba'g nyernql xabj) naq fgneg ybbxvat sbe bgure tbqf va gur obbx, Ybj Xrl vfa'g nebhaq nalzber. Fb jura ur pbzrf onpx yngre vg'f yvxr OYNZ!

    • V npghnyyl YBY'q jura V ernq gung nobhg Ybxv. V nqzvg, V qvqa'g trg Ybj-Xrl=Ybxv hagvy vg jnf erirnyrq qhevat zl svefg ernq-guebhtu. Ohg gura, V qvqa'g trg Jrqarfqnl=Bqva hagvy nobhg unysjnl guebhtu gur obbx rvgure.

  14. Angelllla24 says:

    I wish I were as perceptive as Mark. Maybe having taken the time to blog about a book a chapter at a time would help. Usually I can’t stop myself and just plow through books enjoying the mood. With this book I had no clue Wednesday was even a God, let alone Odin until like, the end. I just plow through and then get thoroughly smacked in the face with things that are probably obvious to everyone else! But it sure is fun! That’s why I love this book. Even the second time through once I got the whole Odin thing everything that came along… Wham.

  15. MidnightLurker says:

    Rot 13 is old hat, I'll put my spoilers in Al Bhed. ^.^

    Ed ec fedr knayd aspynnyccsahd dryd E luhvacc dryd E — y Hunca sodrumuko yht Sekrdo Drun vyh cehla dra yka uv cajah! — lusbmadamo seccat "Muf Gao Moacsedr" uh vnaygeh' byka dfu dra vencd desa E nayt drec puug. 🙂

    • knut_knut says:

      haha your Al Bhed spoilers are giving me flashbacks to my disasterous first attempt at FFX. Terrible.

      I'll Al Bhed mine too
      Tet oui lydlr Sn. Fathactyo? Ed'c rynt du lydlr frah dra funt/hysa ec cbammat bruhadelymmo, druikr!

  16. arctic_hare says:

    LOL. I was wondering when you'd catch on to the Wednesday = Odin thing, Mark! 😀 I wasn't sure how familiar you are with Norse mythology, so I didn't want to assume anything, but then… you confirmed that you do in your review for this chapter. xD I confess, I spotted him right off because of his name, I know the origin of us calling that day "Wednesday", plus the other little clues. Now you see why Sweeney called him an old tree-hanger last chapter! I loved that.

    Poor Shadow. 🙁

    Vf Ybxv va guvf? Bu trr, V qhaab. Znlor. WHFG ZNLOR. Nunununun.

    • It's so weird; I figure things like Wednesday being Odin's day are common knowledge. So, to me, a mysterious "Mr. Wednesday" in a book called American Gods basically said, "Hi, this is Odin." But then it seems like other people went, like, almost the entire book without realizing he was Odin. I wonder when Gaiman expects the reader to have figured it out.


      • I concur with the common knowledge thing – I learnt about the Norse gods in primary school. Possibly. Thinking about it now, it does seem odd that a Catholic primary school would teach about them…but wait a minute! We studied the Vikings. It all makes sense now.

        And to your rot13 comment: Yes. I facepalmed.

        edit: And now, I realise that since the Anglo-Saxon's invaded Britain, OF COURSE, I learnt about it at school.

        • arctic_hare says:

          My mother went to a Catholic school when she was growing up, and anything she knows about ANY old gods is what I've told her. Don't think many other people in my family know it either. So I'm not really that surprised to find people who don't know this stuff. Common knowledge isn't always as common as we think, sadly. Granted, I do live in the US…

          • @RaudhrGarm says:

            Unfortunately it is the same with any religious school. I went to an Irish, primary Catholic school, and the amount of information given to us about other religions was zilch. Everything about mythology etcetera I've essentially learned on my own. They don't event teach any of the more eventful Christian stories, you know the ones that teach you how messed up the religion is.

  17. elusivebreath says:

    Being unfamiliar with Norse Mythology, I did not get this Odin thing AT ALL until like the very end of the book when I was looking up something unrelated lol. DUH.

  18. lossthief says:

    Oh mark, you just had the very same experience I did with the "Coming to America" part when I first read this.

    With just 1 small detail I noticed that you didn't.

    But I won't ruin it for you. Because I want to see your head ASPLODE when it hits you.

  19. Ryan Lohner says:

    As someone who was obsessed with Norse mythology as a kid, I'm really excited now. I made the connection at the exact time Mark did. And don't forget Shadow feeling like a black bird had flown through him when he opened Wednesday's door: Odin was kept informed about Earth by two ravens, after all.

    The whole thing with Laura reminded me of Christopher discussing his movie idea on The Sopranos:

    "I don't get this. So he's a ghost?"
    "As I understand it, he's like a zombie of sorts."
    "So…he's a ghost?"

  20. monkeybutter says:

    I forgot something I thought of while reading last night! Wednesday's bit where he says "too much talking these days. Talk talk talk. This country would get along much better if people learned how to suffer in silence" reminds me of Death telling the American to shut up in The Meaning of Life. I love it so.

    [youtube YoBTsMJ4jNk youtube]

  21. Mary Sue says:

    This is why I love reading books with you, Mark. Because I've read American Gods at least a dozen freakin' times, and I never once noticed the line about that scar.

  22. pennylane27 says:

    That wiki page says that Mani is actually the personification of the Moon, so everything is kind of related. And I just facepalmed hard at the realisation that Lunes is day of the Moon. That's my native language! Though I'm not sure we use the Greek names, more like the Roman names or the names of the planets.

    BRB doing research.


    I <3 you. This is what I love the most about this whole Mark Reads thing – the moment when it dawns on you exactly who someone is or what's going on.

    • SporkyRat says:

      It is the best part! It's the part where you go, 'Oh! Oh!! I know what's about to happen! How's he going to react to this revelation? OH IT'S THE BEST REACTION EVER ilu mark 4 eva' and just feel so happy.

  24. pandalilies says:

    Odin!!! I am so excited you're reading this book.
    It is one of my favorites, forever and ever amen.

  25. SporkyRat says:

    Oh Mark, I'm so enjoying you reading this blind. I was handed this book and told to read it and I'm so glad someone else is having the 'wtf? omg this is awesome!' reactions that I did!

  26. @Eafiu says:

    Our reactions are exactly the same regarding the mythology drops. 😀 😀 This book is too awesome. Needs to read again. Fast.

  27. episkey825 says:

    I just wanted to say that this is my first time actually reading along with Mark chapter by chapter and it's a book I have never read, by an author I have never read. I'm finding the experience to be thrilling! I can't wait to come home and read the review and all of the comments. I'm so excited to be a part of this with all of you!

  28. I admit, it took me a while to get Wednesday=Odin when I first read this book. My knowledge of Norse Mythology was severely lacking when I was 16.

    (I didn't have the chance to comment these past few days, and I probably won't for a while. I got the 10th Anniversary edition for my birthday and started to read it about a month ago. I'm about 2/3 the way through, so I'm going to wait until the reviews to catch up to really comment on things because I never remember the chapter breaks.)

  29. Shaylani says:

    I'm thinking I should brush up on Norse mythology. All that I know, I learned from Xena, and I don't think that's going to help me much!

  30. notemily says:

    Oh, thanks, that's fascinating! I like how they also don't get the connection between Odin and Mercury:

    The connection between Mercury and Odin is more strained than the other syncretic connections. The usual explanation is that both Wodan and Mercury were considered psychopomps, or leaders of souls, in their respective mythologies; both are also associated with poetic and musical inspiration.

    • t09yavors says:

      Maybe it has to do with them both being Gods of criminals in a way, I dont know much about Odin but Wednesday is a bit of a conman here and gallows=criminals while Mercury is the patron of theives.

  31. notemily says:

    I also find it hilarious that the Scandinavian languages translate "Saturday" as "day you do the laundry."

    • pica_scribit says:

      Laundry once a week would make them a surprisingly clean people, historically speaking! But then, I suppose most people only owned a couple sets of clothes back then….

      (side note: I love making viking (lady) costumes. those apron dresses are about the easiest thing in the world to make and one of the most comfortable things to wear!)

  32. Lady X says:

    Wednesday is Odin?!? Asdf jkl; asdf jkl;ugh I was so uprepared for this book. I’m actually reading chapter-a-day and it’s looking like I wil reeeeaaally regret it. I think the number one thing that I love so far about Neil Gaiman as a writer is how…matter of fact he is. Dead people can walk around, Norse gods hook up with motel clerks, 7 foot tall leprechauns get into bar fights and BACK STORY SCHMACK STORY. Having had little experience ( and by experience I mean a Stardust fanvid a friend of mine did and Doctor Who)with Gaiman I already can tell what’s going on to-read list 🙂

  33. Sophia says:

    I have a read this book a million times, and NEVER noticed the scar thing. Yes. This is going to be FUN.

  34. AAS says:

    Oh, sweet…oh, oh, yes! This requires caps-lock: THANK HEAVEN SWEET ARGH WHAT IS THIS I DON'T EVEN THANK YOU! While I should be working on my freshman writing seminar stuff, I'm reading this and I think I'll do a reread of American Gods with you, okay? Because I only read it once when I was fourteen and oh, god, was I horrified and delighted and just aargh, so yeah.

    Also, if you do Good Omens, I will love you forever and aargh. All of your Mark Reads have just left me completely incoherent. Thank you, TVTropes for bringing me here. Thank you.

  35. muselinotte says:

    This is the first time I'm reading a book along with Mark of which I am blissfully ignorant.
    I've been meaning to read American Gods for quite a while, so this is the perfect opportunity.
    It took me a few days to get a copy and now I'm finally all caught up and so far, I am LOVING it.

    The only other thing I've read of Gaiman is the short stories collection 'Fragile Things'. This already made my brain very, very happy.
    American Gods has so far made me very, very confused… but in an extremely pleasing way.
    And mostly my brain is screaming: "What? What is this? What is happening?… Hello? WHAT?"

  36. Hotaru_hime says:

    I remember reading the end of this chapter and then immediately facepalming because ODIN. WEDNESDAY. Woden's day. Odin's day. In a book about gods.

  37. daisysparrow says:

    I just bought this book today on my Kindle, and I'm already hooked. When I realized that Wednesday = Odin, I literally jumped a bit away from my book and just stared at it like…"oh my god." Yeah, people stared.

  38. TalentedKitty13 says:

    Written before reading Mark's review.

    First off. Cheese and meatball pizza? I WANT!

    Bilquis=Huber? I believe so. Now when do we get to meet Leucotios and Hershef?

    Laura saying "I'm still grateful. I never should have got you mixed up in it." Does that make reference to what Shadow got thrown in jail for (Which we still don't know why) (Edit after reading Mark's review. OH!)

    Kissing a dead person is kinda creepy.

    OOOOH!!!! I think I know who Mr. Wednesday is! (Scratch that. I have two thoughts of who he could be) (Edit after reading Mark's review. Well my first thought was on par with Mark's guess)

  39. Exciting! (and creepy)
    I just wanted to share the Croatian cover, which didn't make sense to me until now:

  40. Hailey says:

    You caught o a whole lot quicker than I ever did! I know more about greek mythology and Irish folklore so the whole Odin thing went completely over my head for a /very/ long time.

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