Mark Reads ‘American Gods’: Chapter 6

In the sixth chapter of American Gods, Shadow meets the gods. In his head. On a tiger. And that’s not even the strangest thing in this chapter. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read American Gods.

CHAPTER SIX

Well. I didn’t expect any of this. Gaiman seems to be a huge fan of making me feel utterly bewildered and lost, more so than any book I’ve chosen to read for Mark Reads. There are so many phrases, terms, and characters that are completely out of the realm of understanding for me, but that doesn’t mean I dislike what I’m reading. I wanted to do a single book to keep myself on my toes, and I’m pretty happy so far that I’ve chosenAmerican Gods to do this. It really isn’t like anything I’ve done on this site, and it’s forcing me to think differently about how to write about this book.

Shadow’s experience is hallucinatory and I couldn’t help but think of Lewis Carroll, or maybe even Roald Dahl, who both dropped characters into another world so rapidly and without explanation. Sure, we have some context to this, but…no, seriously, the animals on the carousel become real and Shadow can see the true nature (or natures, in some cases) of the gods before him and they’re riding toward’s Odin’s Hall and what the holy fuck is going on. The multi-faceted visions, the animals, the impossibility of it all….Gaiman makes no attempt to rationalize this in any realistic way, and I kind of love him for that. It’s weird. Go with it.

“None of this is truly happening,” he said to Shadow. He sounded miserable. “Is all in your head. Best not to think of it.”

Yeah, Czenobog, that might be a bit hard because Shadow is riding a goddamn tiger. Oh my god, he’s miserable while riding a centaur. Should I type that again? Czenobog is miserable while riding a centaur. This book, I swear. I will never get that opportunity again. I’m taking it and you can never take it from me.

I don’t know what Gaiman is doing to me at all, but I like it. I love that Shadow is at a point in this journey where everything is so bizarre that there’s really no point in actively  challenging what he’s seeing or experiencing. And perhaps this is me doing that thing where I read into something far more than I should, but Shadow just submits himself to the experience, and I find that to be an intriguing subtext to me. Of course he’s confused. Who wouldn’t be? The man he’s been traveling with just told him he’s Odin, for christ’s sake. I think it’s perfectly fine to feel a bit frazzled by this, but his dedication to his job (which requires him not to ask a whole lot of questions) feeds into this nicely. He accepts this first, then asks those questions later. And even when he doesn’t really get a good answer, it doesn’t eat away at him either.

Oh, and this whole segment takes place in Shadow’s mind. Literally. Or maybe figuratively. Who knows? It doesn’t matter, I guess, and I don’t feel like it would enhance this story to know these sort of details. Gaiman truly doesn’t spoon feed us answers or context either, but I’m finding that it’s okay to be a bit ignorant of what all these references mean because it’s not required to understand at all. I don’t know who Compé Anansi is, nor do I know who the woman in the red sari is supposed to represent. The story that Compé Anansi tells, while surprisingly entertaining, doesn’t help to shed light on his identity if you hadn’t studied non-Western religions at this point already.

So what I ultimately appreciate is that it’s almost the point of all this that I don’t know who these gods are. When Wednesday finally gets up to speak to the few gods who didshow up, it’s pretty much spelled-out what the main conflict of all of this is, but not in a way that’s condescending to me. The speech he gives really isn’t for us, but for the few gods who have arrived: they have barely survived here in America. As Wednesday describes it, “Not enough to make us happy, but enough to keep going.” Many of these gods (or, as it seems, versions of them) were brought to America by those who traveled here. We’ve seen this in a couple flashbacks, most recently Essie’s history.

God need belief and worship to exist in these physical bodies. (Is that how they die? When the last person stops believing? Is there a…I don’t know, a delivery system for worship?) For these gods who are old and dying, life has not been easy at all, but we finally learn why Wednesday has enemies and why he’s gathering the gods together:

“Now, as all of you will have had reason aplenty to discover for yourselves, there are new gods growing in America, clinging to growing knots of belief: gods of credit-card and freeway, of internet and telephone, of radio and hospital and television, god of plastic and of beeper and of neon. Proud gods, fat and foolish creatures, puffed up with their own newness and importance.

“They are aware of us, and they fear us, and they hate us,” said Odin. “You are fooling yourselves if you believe otherwise. They will destroy us, if they can. It is time for us to band together. It is time for us to act.”

Well. Well. This is interesting. I’m totally on board with this, but I have just one question: Why? These new gods are clearly more powerful and I doubt there’s going to be a resurgence in Odin-worshipping in the United States, so why do these gods of technology and modern materialism care? The old gods will eventually disappear? Is this an issue of dominance? I was glad to get confirmation that non-religious concepts could result in the creation of gods, but I still don’t understand all the rules of this world quite yet.

I did not expect the complete rejection of Wednesday’s plan by everyone, though. The gods are entirely reluctant to join a war that might certainly lead to their death. How can gods destroy one another, though? As long as there is still some belief, can they even be terminated? Regardless, I get the sense that this is not the first stunt Wednesday has pulled before. The gods are offended at the very suggestion, and as soon as it started, they’re all taken out of Odin’s Hall and Shadow’s mind, finding themselves in the room with the Carousel at the end of the last chapter. Well, that went well, didn’t it?

It did not, and yet….all the gods are going to a nearby restaurant to continue talking? Or just eat? Won’t that be a tad awkward? “Hi, I just rejected your awful plan, can you pass me the salt?” Okay, sure, they don’t hate each other, but Mama-ji is quick to explain why she wants no part in this.

“If you ask me, he wants a last stand. He wants us to go out in a blaze of glory. That’s what he wants. And we are old enough, or stupid enough, that maybe some of us will say yes.”

I admit that Wednesday does seem the type, but I’m also lacking any real history of the interactions between the gods. They must have met before this and there must be a reason that Odin seems to make himself out to be some sort of leader of the whole group, though I’m now imagining that this was something he did entirely of his own choosing.That would be in-character.

(Who is the young man that hums?)

I confess that I was completely shocked by the return of the…wow, I almost typed “masked crusaders.” What is my brain doing? So soon after the last altercation, the men who kidnapped Shadow the first time are back for another round. (Though, now that I think about it, it’s entirely possible that these men represent a different group, too.) He’s taken to a mysterious building and held in a cell with metal walls and…shit, things get brutal remarkably fast. Why are these people doing this, though? Like Shadow, I feel like I’m missing some huge point to this, that there’s some crucial piece that Wednesday forgot to tell Shadow that would help put this all together. This seems like overkill to me, but again, I admit that I probably have no real idea of what’s going on.

While waiting for hours for anyone to show up, Shadow occupies himself with coin manipulation. It’s something that’s happened so many times that I am wondering if this is going to be an important plot piece later in the novel. But it only keeps him busy for so long before he finally falls asleep out of exhaustion. Which is always a terrible, terrible idea, but what can you do? They gave him a blanket and everything!

But the more I read about the interactions between this mysterious force and Shadow, the less I think it has anything to do with the first group who assaulted him. These gods (or helpers of gods?) speak so much different than the cybergods we met before. They use terms like “state’s evidence,” and Shadow recognizes rather quickly that they’re acting out a good cop/bad cop routine right in front of his eyes. Are these representations of people’s worship of “authority” maybe? At this point, virtually anything is possible. If there can be gods of phone or gods of internet (WHAT A TERRIFYING THOUGHT), certainly this could extend to other areas, yes? But those seem like older concepts, so they wouldn’t necessarily be newer gods wanting to extinguish archaic beliefs, so….what?

I am sure of this:

“But I can assure you,” said Stone, with another smiley smile, “we are the good guys.”

WHEN, IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, HAVE THE GOOD GUYS EVER KIDNAPPED A PERSON, BEAT THEM, TORTURED THEM, AND DETAINED THEM AGAINST THEIR WILL, SAID A LINE LIKE THIS, AND THEN ENDED UP BEING RIGHT? The answer is never and every time I see this, it makes me laugh. LOL U AREN’T FOOLING ME. Especially when they start beating on Shadow and any issue they might be supporting is all but lost on me in an instant. Sorry, not going to care about you at all anymore. Why are you doing this to Shadow? What is so terrible about him siding with Wednesday?

Gravely injured by the beating and left alone in his cell again, Shadow’s thoughts begin randomly drifting, landing on his dying mother, his silver coin, noises outside the room, but he eventually gives in to the pain and passes out. I recognize the character trope working here and Gaiman isn’t really subverting it, so much as he’s embracing the idea of a character taking on a small assignment and being horrifically thrust into a world he had no idea existed. But usually the beatings are reserved for mid-story acts and instead, Shadow is now unconscious on the cold metal floor because he chose to help out Wednesday, not knowing what he has gotten into.

And even recognizing the trope didn’t help me to guess what would happen next: Laura returns. And she still has a body and Shadow isn’t imagining it.

“Where did all the blood come from?” he asked.

“Other people,” she said. “It’s not mine. I’m filled with formaldehyde, mixed with glycerine and lanolin.”

“Which other people?” he asked.

“The guards,” she said. “It’s okay. I killed them.”

What? What?

“It’s easier to kill people, when you’re dead yourself,” she told him. “I mean, it’s not such a big deal. You’re not so prejudiced any more.”

THAT IS LIKE THE BEST-WRITTEN LINE IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE!!! Oh my god. She’s not prejudiced against death any more because she is dead herself. But I love that this is further proof that Laura’s promise to her husband is real. I’m not sure of the logistics of this. Can she just disappear and reappear at will? Or only when her husband needs her? Maybe that’s the key to this; perhaps it requires some sort of belief on Shadow’s part.

“Oh, and one of the men had gone into the cell down there to jack off with a magazine. He got such a shock.

“You killed him while he was jerking himself off?”

She shrugged. “I guess,” she said, uncomfortably. “I was worried they were hurting you.”

Not only is that dedication to your husband, but what an awkward situation to be in when you are murdered. Maybe the guy’s last thoughts were pleasant? Who knows? Either way, I have to say that while this may seem a bit convenient to have Shadow’s wife show up to save her husband when he needs it, I’m happy there’s at least an emotional reason for this. As Laura says to Shadow, “You shine like a beacon in a dark world.” She is drawn to him for some other reason. She confirms to Shadow that she thinks she knows what’s going on, but we’re not told anything beyond that.  Gaiman instead chooses to give us some depressing character development on Laura’s part as a way to add depth to what might have just been a two-dimensional plot point.

She is dead. She is helping her husband through a confusing journey, but that does not mean she doesn’t have her own desire as well.

“I want to be alive again,” she said. “Not in this half-life. I want to be really alive. I want to feel my heart pumping in my chest again. I want to feel blood moving through me–hot, and salty, and real. It’s weird, you don’t think you can feel it, the blood, but believe me, when it stops flowing, you’ll know.” She rubbed her eyes, smudging her face with red from the mess on her hands. “Look, I don’t know why this happened to me. But it’s hard. You know why dead people only go out at night, puppy? Because it’s easier to pass for real, in the dark. And I don’t want to have to pass. I want to be alive.”

I’m glad that she has some choice in this, that she’s not just some pawn to push the plot forward. She is just as confused and lost as Shadow, maybe even more so because she lacks a living body. And as Shadow begins to walk south, no idea where he’s supposed to go, I find myself wanting to know more about Laura as well.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since ’09.

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116 Responses to Mark Reads ‘American Gods’: Chapter 6

  1. Ryan Lohner says:

    You don't know Anansi? I loved those stories as a kid, even if he was a huge jerk in most of them. And once Shadow saw him as a spider, I made the connection and kicked myself for not figuring it out. A god in the form of an old black guy who calls himself Nancy? Where was my mind?

    • cait0716 says:

      Anansi was the first god I recognized because I heard so many of his stories as a kid. We did a whole unit in 7th grade comparing the various trickster gods (Anansi and Coyote and Loki). I think we were supposed to be learning about mythology in general, but the stories of the trickster gods are so much more accessible to kids that we just focused there. I love his story about stealing Tiger's Balls.

    • FlameRaven says:

      That was my thought, too. I definitely ran into several Anansi stories in the various "collected story" books we got as kids. Although obviously none as lewd as the one presented here.

      He's definitely very similar to Coyote in that he spends his time more or less trolling everyone and it is a thing of brilliance. 😀

    • monkeybutter says:

      Same, I was a little suprised! We learned about Anansi in 3rd grade, and then talked about him again when we covered Coyote and Raven in 5th grade, and they inevitably came up again when we learned about Greco-Roman deities (Hermes and Mercury are the closest, I guess, Odysseus was pretty clever, and Eris is the god of starting shit!). Tricksters always got the most attention whenever we learned about gods 🙂

      Would this be a good time to mention that I'm always giddy when it's time for a Coyote chapter in Gunnerkrigg Court?

      • Dent D says:

        Coyote is my favorite in Gunnerkrigg. As much as I kove the side character development we have now, I want to see more Coyote soon! 😀

      • quenstalof says:

        So I didn't know what Gunnerkrigg Court was so I checked it out, and I think I've lost 2 hours so far reading through it and its really enjoyable.

        So thanks!

      • KvotheCase says:

        Your school… Taught you those things? O.o
        My God. How astoundingly awesome.
        Sorry, it's just… At that age we were being told Abrahamic God loved us more than our parents, and when we studied Greco-Roman civilization they somehow managed to completely skip over the deities part until, of course, they got to Christian conversion.
        I am so. Very. Jealous.
        ;P

        • Frianna says:

          I'm also so jealous of all of you. But maybe now I don't have to be that ashamed that I didn't recognize Odin (before Mark did). Why didn't we ever have anything about mythology in school? Or maybe one or two pages in our history book…

    • pica_scribit says:

      I remember hearing Anansi stories as a kid, too, and *I have no idea where from*. I've just always known who Anansi was, even though the culture that spawned him does not in any way touch my own heritage. *baffled*

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I remember Anasi, and adore him both here and in general. However, i've forgotten which pantheon he originates from. I'm thinking First Nations native America, but that can't be right; they don't have tigers and monkeys, or even classic gods for all I know…

    • t09yavorsaur says:

      I loved Anansi stories but I never recognized him as a god when I was a kid so I was surprised when he showed up here. Thinking about it now though its very clear he was some kind of First Spider or something.

      Anansi is for some reason connected in my head with Aesop but I dont think they go together, do they? I think we learned about them at the same time.

    • Alexis says:

      I learned about Anansi on Wishbone…It's strange the episodes you choose to remember as a child O_o

    • Marie says:

      What about the Raffi song? The "Anansi he is a spider, Anansi he is a man" one. Does anyone else remember it? I still hum it to myself sometimes.

      • Kit says:

        That was one of my favorite songs as a kid! And yeah, with all the Anansi talk in here, I've got it stuck in my hed now. ;p

      • Shiroikami says:

        YES. THIS.

        That was the first way that I ever heard about Anansi, then, as I got older I got interested in other mythologies and found out that, not only was Anansi a trickster god, but there were OTHER AWESOME TRICKSTERS in other mythologies too. Now I know lots of mythology about various tricksters in the assorted pantheons (plus lots of random myths and details from Greek/Roman, Norse, Egyptian and Native American mythology). Because Trickster gods are the BEST. They always have more fun than the other gods. 😀

        Also, that song was the reason that Anansi was one of the first gods I recognized in this book.

  2. Ryan Lohner says:

    Something that just came to me: one of Shadow's passengers is a Silence! Maybe that's what got Gaiman involved in this current season.

  3. jaccairn says:

    This book is a gateway to expand your knowledge of world religions and mythologies, you look things up to understand the story better. I must admit that watching Gargoyles had expanded my knowledge base beyond the norse/greek/roman range so I knew who Anansi was and some of the others.

    • cait0716 says:

      This book definitely opened my eyes to a whole world of mythology. I've read it countless times (enough that it has a dedicated bookmark) and I'm still finding more things I need to go and look up. Or little details that I didn't catch the first time around. And I'm constantly impressed by Gaiman's knowledge of all these mythologies.

    • Zozo says:

      GARGOYLES. YES.

  4. cait0716 says:

    I didn't figure out the Wednesday = Odin connection until this chapter when I first read this book. I knew so little about mythology back then that I really needed to be hit over the head with it. And now it's fun to go back and see all the little clues.

    I like that Laura killed all those men to free Shadow. She really does love him. And her line about not being so prejudiced anymore really is genius.

    • BklynBruzer says:

      I made the Wednesday = Odin connection right when he told us his name was Wednesday because it was his day (Wednesday is from Odin/Wodanaz like Thursday is from Thor), but I discarded it as just being a coincidence until some point around this chapter, then I felt kinda awesome about myself.

  5. ambyrglow says:

    The story that Compé Anansi tells, while surprisingly entertaining, doesn’t help to shed light on his identity if you hadn’t studied ancient or archaic religions at this point already.

    I'm a little uneasy about tagging non-Western religious traditions as "ancient or archaic." Can we just say "non-Western" instead? My understanding is that Anansi is a figure from Ashanti cultural tradition, and the Ashanti are still quite alive and practicing their traditional faith today.

  6. knut_knut says:

    This chapter went on FOREVER! But not in a bad way. I thought for sure I accidentally started reading the next chapter, but nope. I’m also REALLY curious to see how the AG TV show will do the carousel ride. It has the potential to be amazing but also go so horribly wrong and cheesy.

    I was sooooooooooo excited when Mr. Nancy was revealed to be Anansi! In elementary school we had a picture book of Anansi stories and I completely forgot about it and him until I read American Gods. Ahhh, memories :’)

    I have no idea who the peculiar young man is (at first I thought he was HAGRID!! but then realized he’s not very tall 🙁 Maybe a descendant?) but that other guy is DEFINITELY the Silence.

  7. Meenalives says:

    To me, Mama-ji's identity was obvious almost as soon as she spoke. I can definitely see why Odin would want her on his side. It does seem odd to me that gods like Xnyv (Mama-ji's name rot13-ed, though I don't think it's really a spoiler since it's so obvious to anyone who knows Hindu mythology) who are still objects of large-scale active worship, would be counted in the same category as Odin or Czernabog, who are almost forgotten or at least no longer worshipped. As she said, Mama-ji is still doing quite well for herself.

    • cait0716 says:

      I think Shadow mentions her name in this chapter – after he parks the car he's wondering if it can really be her

    • roguebelle says:

      Nygubhtu, V jbhyq vzntvar, gur irefvba bs ure va Nzrevpn qbrf yrff jryy guna gur irefvbaf bs ure ryfrjurer.

      • cait0716 says:

        Lrnu, gurl gnyx nobhg guvf n ovg zber jvgu Wrfhf va n srj puncgref. Ur'f qbvat terng va Nzrevpn, abg fb jryy va bgure pbhagevrf (Nstunavfgna, V oryvrir)

    • FlameRaven says:

      Yes, Mama-ji is identified as Kali by Shadow when he is thinking about his passengers. As you said, for anyone familiar with Hindu mythology, there's really no other figure so described. The skulls and knives especially are her symbols.

      I think it's a sliding scale of strength and influence, and Odin was calling up more or less anyone he could find. Mama-ji/Kali seems to be doing pretty well for herself, Odin and Anansi are not doing as well, Czernabog is probably forgotten almost entirely except for fragments. (I wonder if he gets anything from his representation in Fantasia?) It makes me wonder what counts as "worship" or belief to strengthen these gods. Does just telling their stories help them? Or do you have to believe they're real?

      • cait0716 says:

        I kind of get the sense that Czernobog went into the cow-killing business as a way of keeping himself alive. Like he could feed on those deaths in some respect. Sort of like Bilquis becoming a prostitute and the Zorya telling fortunes. They take what they can get where they can find it. I do hope that all those kids watching Fantasia gave Czernobog a bit of a second wind

      • notemily says:

        Czernobog talking about Fantasia would make my day.

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      I thought the same thing about her. She has a very large following in India, and I thought there were enough devout worshipers in America not to have this problem.

      • FlameRaven says:

        That's probably why Mama-ji seems to be so strongly against Odin's idea of "taking something back" — she's doing pretty well, so there's no need to stir up trouble and maybe lose what influence she has.

  8. roguebelle says:

    "I wanted to do a single book to keep myself on my toes, and I’m pretty happy so far that I’ve chosenAmerican Gods to do this. It really isn’t like anything I’ve done on this site, and it’s forcing me to think differently about how to write about this book."

    I thought you might feel like this. I haven't read 'Infinite Jest', so I don't know about that one, but everything else you've read has been — however fantastic — much more in the style of traditional narrative. The story moves from point A to point B and on through the alphabet to the conclusion. The characters' plotlines may split and re-merge later on, but it's still a linear progression. 'American Gods' (and a lot of Gaiman's work in general) doesn't work like that at all, so I can see where that would be a different mental gear to throw into.

  9. Noybusiness says:

    You never heard of Anansi?! One of my first favorite books (which I still have) is a Classical Mythology compilation that includes the one where Anansi wins the Sky God's stories from him. And he was in the Panther Queen episode of Gargoyles, voiced by Levar Burton.

    • Viridescence says:

      I remember when Wishbone did an Anansi story. It was pretty awesome. They had Wishbone in a little doggy spider costume and everything. Really stuck in my brain, that did.

      • ravenclawgirl says:

        YES! I loved Wishbone as a kid (still do, if I'm honest) and that's where a lot of what I remember about Anansi comes from. Also, when we started reading classics in high school, whether or not Wishbone had done an episode on it was about as good a predictor as any as to whether or not I would like that particular book.

    • Hotaru_hime says:

      OMG. I totally remember that Gargoyles episode!!! He was voiced by LeVar Burton?!
      *squees of joy*

  10. Maya says:

    “None of this is truly happening,” he said to Shadow. He sounded miserable. “Is all in your head. Best not to think of it.”

    Anyone else think of Dumbledore's last words to Harry when they read this?

    • Elexus Calcearius says:

      Yes!

      "Of course its all in your head Harry, but why should that mean it isn't real?"

    • monkeybutter says:

      Yes! And then I thought that Huginn and Muninn dipping their beaks into Wednesday's head was a much darker way of extracting memories than the old wand method. I'm just gonna assume that the wand Gondlir bears is the elder wand, because everything is Harry Potter.

    • episkey825 says:

      I love this! I also felt like Wednesday used Shadow back in chapter five to convince Czernobog to come to the meeting at House on the Rock in the same way that Dumbledore used Harry to convince Slughorn to come back to Hogwarts. Especially when Wednesday said this line:

      Good job last night with Czernobog, by the way. I would have closed him on coming eventually, but you enlisted him more wholeheartedly than ever I could have.

  11. Merrick says:

    When I was a kid I'd listen to that Raffi song about Anansi ("Anansi he is a spider, Anansi he is a man. . .") but could never quite make out what the name was. The best I could do was "My Nancy." Then a decade or so later I'm reading this chapter and I'm suddenly "That's it! That's the character from the Raffi song! Anansi!"

  12. Noybusiness says:

    "WHEN, IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, HAVE THE GOOD GUYS EVER KIDNAPPED A PERSON, BEAT THEM, TORTURED THEM, AND DETAINED THEM AGAINST THEIR WILL, SAID A LINE LIKE THIS, AND THEN ENDED UP BEING RIGHT?"

    I immediately started trying to think of a Battlestar Galactica example.

    • cait0716 says:

      Didn't Starbuck and Lee do this to that man working with Zarek back in the first season?

      • Maya says:

        Oh yeah, that guy who was trying to assassinate Roslin. So I guess it has happened…kind of.

      • ChronicReader91 says:

        It could also be when Starbuck was interrogating and torturing Leoben. They did discuss right and wrong- I don't remember is she ever actually said that humans were "the good guys" but it was something to that effect, wasn't it?

        • cait0716 says:

          Yeah, but her point there was that Leoben had been part of a plot to wipe out an entire species, which Starbuck classified as sin. So I think she still got to hold onto the moral high ground in that scenario.

  13. Marie the Bookwyrm says:

    The humming young man baffles me; but I think the other guy might be Hades/Pluto. He has a helm of invisibility and there was a line about him leaving an impression of wealth (when Shadow tried to memorize his appearance).

    • Alexa says:

      Right, the god that everyone forgets. Gaiman refuses to tell anyone who he is, though Hades/Pluto is a predominant theory.

      • Kiryn says:

        OMG!!!! IF HE REALLY IS HADES, THAT WILL MAKE ME A VERY HAPPY CAMPER. HADES IS MY FAVORITE GREEK GOD!!!!

      • Jenni says:

        I think the forgettable god is the 8th Dynamic, and the reason Shadow can't remember his name is because he hasn't reached enlightenment. The reason Mr Gaiman is being so coy with this is because of the Scientology connection. He is very private about his personal connection to The most American religion and hence THE most American God.

    • cait0716 says:

      The humming young man vf Nyivff, nf uvagrq ol gur snpg gung uvf anzr fbhaqf yvxr Ryivf. Ur'f gur xvat bs gur qjnesf va Abefr zlgubybtl

      Not really sure that needs to be rot13ed, but I figured I'd play it safe

      • James says:

        There were two men, though. I thought the other one was Alviss? Shadow can't really remember anything about the humming guy, who I think could well be Hades, "the unseen". The deep, resonant humming and "down, down, down" seem to fit in, as does the "impression of wealth", Hades also being called Plouton from Πλούτωνος, "rich one".

  14. FuTeffla says:

    'WHEN, IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD, HAVE THE GOOD GUYS EVER KIDNAPPED A PERSON, BEAT THEM, TORTURED THEM, AND DETAINED THEM AGAINST THEIR WILL, SAID A LINE LIKE THIS, AND THEN ENDED UP BEING RIGHT?'

    ^ To quote the mighty Sir Samuel Vimes, you can't claim to be a good guy and then do bad-guy things.

  15. monkeybutter says:

    Ha, yes! People who have to reassure you, contrary to all evidence, that they're the good guys, generally aren't. "I know we beat the everloving shit out of you, but…"

    I really like the imagery of them riding towards Valaskjalf. It's not what Gaiman describes, but I imagine it like Shadow is looking into a broken mirror, and each shard is reflecting a variation of the God he's examining from a different angle, representing a different moment in time. It's the only way my brain can process what he's seeing. And I adored Anansi's story because, like I mentioned above, trickster gods are my favorites. And I love that we get to see some new Gods, as well as Czernobog being Mr Crankypants. I honestly don't remember who the guys in the backseat are supposed to be, so I sympathize with Shadow's confusion!

    • ABBryant says:

      "…And I adored Anansi's story because, like I mentioned above, trickster gods are my favorites…"

      Have you read the Trickster's duo by Tamora Pierce? It revolves around a trickster god's plan.

    • ChronicReader91 says:

      Trickster Gods are awesome. It's so cool how so many religions have this one guy who exists just to MESS WITH PEOPLE and then GET AWAY WITH IT. Like the god of practical jokers.

  16. arctic_hare says:

    Anansi! <3 I love him.

  17. barnswallowkate says:

    IDK, riding a centaur might be kind of awkward, I can see why Czernobog wouldn't like it. It's sort of a horse but then you're right up on the back of the guy's head and he can turn around and chat with you while you ride him, and what are you supposed to say? Like "Hey what's up thanks for carrying me around, how is your day going?"

    Since my daemon is my iPhone I'm pretty sure the Internet is my god and I'm a hardcore LOLcat-evangelist.

    I feel like I should like badass zombie Laura but I can apparently not get over the "puppy" thing and I'm still grossed out.

  18. chrisjpardo says:

    I'm late to the party! But I decided to stick around here and try and get my read on a bit more, so I was a few days late in buying American Gods at the weekend but now I'm on schedule.

    It's been a bit strange, going from someone who really hasn't read much fiction over the last few years apart from His Dark Materials, to go straight from one author/style into another. I've never read any of Gaiman's books before, and like Mark I had absolutely no idea what to expect, or what the book was about. But Gaiman's quite literal style is markedly different to Pullman's more descriptive scene-setting, and this took me a while to adjust to. But I quite like it; I get the feeling that if Gaiman doesn't tell me something, it's very much intentional at this stage. And I'm willing to go along with the ride. I AM ONBOARD.

    I'd say the last 2 chapters have finally caught my full interest, and I'm hooked and excited to see where it goes. I also know pretty much no mythology. Never did it at school here in the UK, so there's a lot of this that's probably going over my head at the moment.

    =======================================

    Total side note:

    As a non-newbie to the HDM trilogy, I knew what was coming, and thought it'd be cool to do something I wanted when I read them the first time (but was too upset to do so), and write a song (bit of a hobby). As luck would have it, I had time off work shortly after we all finished The Amber Spyglass so I had no excuses. It was my way of 'dealing' with the ending :p, so I wrote a song called 'Will & Lyra'; it's meant to be a duet, hence me straining to do the female parts!

    So here it is (on myspace)

    Feel free to let me know what you think! Here endeth the self-promotion.

    • ChronicReader91 says:

      Hi, welcome back! *waves* It's interesting to go straight from Pullman to Gaiman, because they have SUCH different writing styles. Slightly jarring, but in a fun way.

  19. NopeJustMe says:

    Sorry but Shadow describing a God behind him as "another man, in a dark suit, who Shadow could not remember" aehfuaefaegae!g IT'S THE SILENCE. RUN SHADOW RUN.

  20. Ida says:

    Neil Gaiman is completely bemused by the fact that not everyone is as much into mythology as he is. When he was about to write HIS version of the Orpheus myth, he was told that nobody would understand it, because so few knew it. So he had to change his version of the myth to a more straightforward example, explaining the story. Surely he'd be just as happy.

  21. Kiryn says:

    And yeah, the idea of the Internet being a god is very, very creepy….just think Mark, we're worshipping him/her right now.

    Unprepared forever and ever, man.

  22. Hotaru_hime says:

    You don't know who Anansi is? Well. I guess it was just my elementary school, huh?
    Can you imagine the Internet as a god though? What physical shape would it take? Would it just be a bunch of open browsers, set to whatever the most popular forums are, a massive, disfigured shape of our dark desires (rule 34 anyone?) and our yearnings to understand?
    I'm really glad I had some mythology background though, or this book would have really confused me.

  23. threerings says:

    Interestingly, though I DID learn Mythology in school, it was all Greco-Roman. I studied Egyptian mythology on my own, and later learned Celtic and Sumerian and Buddhist and Native American, but when I read this book I had no idea who Anansi was.

  24. ChronicReader91 says:

    How could I have not figured out that Mr. Nancy = Anansi? I LOVED Anansi the Spider stories when I was a kid (though considering the content of this one , I think they were considerably changed to be “family friendly”.) I love how Wednesday is like “No stories!” and Anansi is like, “OK, no stories” and then immediately starts telling a story.

    About Wednesday’s plan…I can definitely understand why he feels threatened by the new “gods”, but does he really think they’re going to destroy the old gods? IDK, but I like how Mama-Ji points out that new inventions and fads are hardly new, and that the old gods have outlived them all. I also love that her reaction is like "settle down, you silly, reactionary child, I've been aorund way longer than you." 😛

    And speaking of Mama-Ji- SHE’S KALI. OMG THIS IS SO FANTASTIC I HAVE TO KNOW WHO ALL THE OTHER GODS ARE RIGHT AWAY GAIMAN WHY ARE YOU KEEPING THEIR IDENTITIES SECRET WHY ARE YOU TORTURING ME.

    The best part about dead Laura saving the day: “It’s easier to kill people, when you’re dead yourself,” she told him. “I mean, it’s not such a big deal. You’re not so prejudiced anymore.”

    I think I might be falling in love with this book.

    • kristinc says:

      That quote reminds me of Lister from Red Dwarf: "Death's not the handicap it use to be in the olden days."

  25. ChronicReader91 says:

    And LOTR! Hell, I just want him to do a book that I can read and write rot-13 comments about. 😉

  26. kristinc says:

    The Mama-Ji perfume oil from Black Phoenix is really nice. A lot of the American Gods collection just did not work on me, but that one did.

  27. fandomphd says:

    So I read this book ages ago and I only have vague impressions of what happens, so my following comment may be allayed by future chapters/events, but this chapter kind of bothered me in ..

    …gung V ernyyl qba'g srry Xnyv naq Bqva pna or rdhngrq va grezf bs "sbetbggra" tbqf. V jbhyq fnl nyzbfg abobql jbefuvcf Abefr tbqf va gur HF, naq znlor ur trgf zragvbarq va uvfgbel/zlgubybtl pynffrf, ohg gung'f vg. Jurernf Xnyv vf cneg bs Uvaqhvfz, juvpu vf fgvyy na npgvir eryvtvba. Rira pbzcnevat gur H.F. gb Vaqvn, gurer'f yvxr … bire n zvyyvba crbcyr va gur H.F. jub oryvrir va Uvaqhvfz naq cerfhznoyl n ynetr cbegvba bs gurz oryvrir va Xnyv? V'z bayl trarenyyl njner bs gur onfvpf bs gur eryvtvba, ohg V guvax vg'f fnsr gb fnl gung Xnyv jbhyq or fbzrbar jub'f npghnyyl fgvyy oryvrir va naq/be jbefuvcrq jurernf Bqva vf abg.

    Naljnlf, vg whfg xvaq bs srryf yvxr Tnvzna vf qvfzvffvat Uvaqhvfz nf n zvabevgl eryvtvba gung vf nyzbfg nf sbetbggra nf Abefr, juvpu — hu, V srry yvxr qbrf n infg qvffreivpr gb nyy gur crbcyr va gur H.F. jub jbhyq qvfnterr. (rot-13'd because I'm not positive exactly how much Mark has figured out).

    In any case, I hope that my misgivings are allayed in future chapters by clarification or something.

  28. James says:

    Again, first time reading so this is just speculative, but I'm pretty sure Laura's appearance is related to the coin. You didn't comment on what Zorya Polunochnaya said when she gave him the moon coin, and I think it's going to be important and that it's tied to Laura's appearances and her oath to be his protector.

    ANANSI. I fucking love him, gah. I just have this immense fondness for Trickster gods. And as people have pointed out, Mamaji is outright said to be a form of Kali. I think the humming man is Hades, personally. His name means "the unseen" which fits in with the forgetting him and he's also known as Plouton (which the Romans got Pluto from) which means "rich one" and that fits with the impression of wealth. Also the "down, down, down" bit. I hope it's Hades, I love him.

    Onward! One more chapter and I'm caught up 🙂 So exciting!

  29. TalentedKitty13 says:

    Mr. Nancy=Anansi the spider OMG! I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN!!!

  30. Merus says:

    Little alarmed that no-one mentioned that the guys in black are clearly G-Men – the idea of authority as men in dark suits who know too much and do awful things because they can and because it's apparently 'for the greater good'. Hence 'we're the good guys'.

  31. enchantedsleeper says:

    Shadow’s experience is hallucinatory and I couldn’t help but think of Lewis Carroll, or maybe even Roald Dahl, who both dropped characters into another world so rapidly and without explanation.

    Which character by Roald Dahl are you referring to? o.O Roald Dahl wrote a ton of stories… though I'm guessing you mean Charlie of Chocolate Factory fame since he's the only one this statement seems to apply to. But it confused me for a moment because unlike with Lewis Carroll, I don't think there's any one story by Roald Dahl that's like the one everyone thinks of when they hear his name.

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